The race for the Republican attorney general nomination in Texas is heading to a second round.
Incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton and State Lands Commissioner George P. Bush were forced into a runoff after neither candidate got 50% of the vote in Tuesday’s primary.
The other Republican candidates, former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertGOP blocks house bill banning race-based hair discrimination (R-Texas), were eliminated.
The result was not entirely unexpected. While polls showed Paxton in the lead, he fell below the 50% mark. A February poll by the University of Texas to Tyler/Dallas Morning News showed Paxton leading Bush, 39% to 25%, while Guzman and Gohmert trailed in third and fourth place, respectively. 13% and 7% support.
Paxton also acknowledged the possibility of a runoff against Bush ahead of the primary, saying last month that he “is going to win or I’m going to have a runoff with George P.”
Paxton is also expected to face relentless attacks — from Bush and Democrats — on a host of legal and ethical issues, including an impeachment in state court for securities fraud and corruption allegations. and abuse of power.
While Paxton could still very well clinch the nomination in the second round, the primary was also seen as a test of the former president’s strength. donald trumpDonald TrumpArizona GOP asks court to overturn vote-by-mail system McCarthy slams GOP members who spoke at white nationalist conference: ‘Unacceptable’ First jury trial against defendant starts riot from January 6 MOREapproval. Trump backed Paxton last year, overriding other candidates who also sought to portray themselves as staunch allies of the former president.
But Bush’s success in denying Paxton an outright victory could raise further questions about the reach of Trump’s endorsement in a Republican primary fight.
“You’ve seen the ability of candidates not chosen by Trump to always find a space or a place,” said a Texas Republican strategist. “And with Paxton, you haven’t seen him far enough from the field to avoid a second round.”