The ticket Novemember ticket for Texas Attorney General is set after Ken Paxton handily advanced to general election as the Republican nominee, despite looming legal troubles, along with Democrat Rochelle Garza, who’s declared victory in the statewide race.
The Associated Press called the race for Paxton over his opponent, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush, shortly after 8:30 p.m. CT, as results from across the state continued to come in.
With 87% of polling places reporting, Paxton has 68.2% of votes to Bush’s 31.8%, unofficial results from the Texas Secretary of State’s office show. Garza has 62.8% of votes to former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski’s 37.2%, with 88% of polling places reporting.
Paxton’s campaign did not immediately return an email seeking comment.
Bush issued a statement soon after 9 p.m. conceding the race. In it, he referenced the Tuesday mass shooting at a Uvlade elementary school where at least 18 children were killed.
“Things didn’t go as we planned. But after the tragic events of earlier today, it’s important to keep life’s temporary disappointments in perspective,” Bush said. “There are grieving parents in South Texas today. My family and I are grieving with them.”
He thanked his families and supporter.
“We will continue fighting for the rule of law in Texas,” Bush said. “I trust and pray in Governor Abbott’s ability to control the southern border and work to ensure the system of justice and respect for Texas laws are honored and maintained.”
Border security was among Bush’s top priorities on the campaign trail.
Paxton has been hit over his legal troubles that have spanned years. Paxton has been indicted for securities fraud since 2015 and is reportedly being investigated by the FBI for allegedly using his office to aid a political donor. Bush has criticized Paxton for his legal problems while also defending himself against the establishment label that comes with his last name. Bush is the son of former Florida governor Jeb Bush and grandson of former President George H.W. Bush.
“I’m proud of my family’s contributions to Texas and America, but this race isn’t about my last name,” Bush says in a video advertisement. “It’s about Ken Paxton’s crimes.”
Polling from the Texas Politics Project at UT-Austin shows the majority of those polled were only somewhat familiar with Paxton’s legal problems or knew or new little or nothing about them. Sixty-three percent of Republicans said they viewed Paxton at least somewhat favorably compared to 40% who viewed Bush at least somewhat favorably.
Paxton has received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, who mentioned Paxton during a visit to Austin earlier this month.
“He’s got a big election — get out there and vote,” Trump said, according to the Austin American-Statesman. “I hear you’re doing well, but let’s bring home the bacon. Bring it home.”
Bush raised more than Paxton during the campaign finance period covering Feb. 20 to May 14, but Paxton still has a multi-million dollar campaign war chest, reporting more than $4.4 million in his campaign war chest.
Bush reported some $2,323,232 in contributions and $2,758,903 in expenditures during the roughly three-month period. Paxton reported about $2,013,987 in contributions and $2,617,334 in expenditures.
Democrats Jaworksi and Garza brought in just a fraction of the money that’s coming in for the Republican runoff. Garza reported about $333,716 in contributions and Jaworksi $372,852 for the Feb. 20 through May 14 period. Garza spent $366,249 to Jaworski’s $370,747.
Both Democrats have said their experience distinguishes them from their opponent.
Garza, a civil rights attorney who previously worked for the ALCU, took on Paxton and the Trump administration in a case involving a pregnant 17-year-old immigrant who was denied access to an abortion while in detention. Jaworski has served on the Galveston City Council and as the city’s mayor and now works as a mediator.
In an Election Night statement, Garza too reflected on the shooting in Uvalde.
“Today is a sober reminder of why we need new leadership in Texas. I am deeply saddened by the news from Uvalde today,” Garza said. “As a new mom and a Texan, my heart breaks for the children, teachers and their families.”
If elected, Garza would be the first woman to serve as Texas Attorney General. Garza already had her sights set on November Tuesday night.
“I decided to run for Texas Attorney General to fight for Texas families, protect our freedoms and keep our communities safe. Indicted Ken Paxton is corrupt and unfit to hold public office and cares more about lobbyists and donors than the lives of our children. He has abused the AG office for political gain and forgotten the struggles of everyday Texans. That changes once we vote him out in November. “
Jaworski in a statement released earlier in the night said he’s waiting for all votes to be counted as he thanked supporters.
“We will wait patiently while our democratic process unfolds,” he said. “Once we have the official results, I will make another statement about the status of this campaign.”