Elections 2022Cornyn Lambasts Paxton Over Legal Issues, Attorney General Blasts Senator as ‘Bush GOP’

Two of the state's top Republicans exchanged fire just days before the GOP runoff election.
May 20, 2022
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A former Texas attorney general did not mince words with the current attorney general, as the incumbent stares down a primary runoff just days away in his bid for re-election.

There is little love lost between Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who served as Texas attorney general from 1999 until 2002, and current Attorney General Ken Paxton — and Cornyn made that abundantly clear this week.

While taking questions, Cornyn was asked about the GOP runoff for attorney general, which pits Paxton against Land Commissioner George P. Bush. Cornyn criticized Paxton for his ongoing legal snares, saying, “This is the chief law enforcement officer for the state of Texas, and it’s the source of embarrassment to me.”

He did not go on to endorse Bush in the comments.

Shortly after, Paxton responded on Twitter gibing his predecessor, saying, “I’m not shocked by the Senator’s comments. He represents the Bush wing of the GOP. I’ll never relate to Senator Cornyn’s ability to compromise with radical Senate Democrats in DC.”

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“I’m focused on stopping Biden’s disastrous agenda [and] defending Texans’ conservative values.”

Paxton has faced a barrage of allegations and some, yet unproven, charges since taking office. An indictment for alleged securities fraud has lingered with little movement for seven years. More recently, he was accused by several of his previous top lieutenants of abusing his office by granting favors to businessman Nate Paul. In every case, Paxton maintained his innocence.

But those and other allegations of impropriety have sullied the attorney general’s reputation in some corners of his party — collectively enough to draw multiple primary challengers. In the March 1 primary, Paxton pulled in over 40 percent of the vote, but fell substantially short of the 50 percent line needed to avoid a runoff.

Recent polling of the attorney general runoff has shown some mixed results, with Paxton oscillating between a comfortable win and a slight edge over Bush with substantial numbers of undecided.

The attorney general race has very much been about personal differences between the candidates — both acknowledging similarities in the way they would operate the office they seek. But Paxton’s opponents, now down to just Bush, have homed in on the allegations against Paxton while the incumbent has returned fire attacking his challenger’s family legacy.

It will be one of the most-watched contests on Tuesday night.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.