Two Democratic candidates for attorney general who launched campaigns earlier this year — former Galveston mayor Joe Jaworski and civil rights attorney Lee Merritt — have now been joined by another candidate, former American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Rochelle Garza.
Garza had previously announced a run for Congress to replace retiring Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX-34), but changed those plans after Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX-15) reportedly announced he’d run in the new 34th Congressional District.
“Our state is under attack by politicians who have passed some of the most restrictive laws in the country and sided with special interests over Texans,” said Garza. “It’s time for Texans to take a stand. I’m running for Texas Attorney General to be a voice for hard-working Texas families and protect their interests and our civil rights in court.”
Garza launched her new campaign on November 1, the same day that Attorney General Ken Paxton appeared before the Supreme Court to defend the Texas Heartbeat Act, a law that was passed by the state legislature earlier this year as Senate Bill (SB) 8.
All three candidates have been critical of SB 8, with Merritt and Garza making the subject a central issue in their campaigns.
Merritt said that “Protecting access to abortion in Texas wil save lives,” and Garza said, “Systemic racism & economic barriers already make it difficult for BIPOC to access reproductive healthcare, and SB8 is only making matters worse here in TX.”
He says that he will advocate Medicaid expansion, “lead a statewide effort to legalize adult-use recreational purpose cannabis,” create a new “Civil Rights Division” within the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), and “turn Ken Paxton’s wasteful voter fraud division into General Jaworski’s voter access division.”
Jaworski also says he would use his prior political experience at the local level to support “local decision-making authority.”
“I am the only democrat in the race who has served in elected office, specifically serving my community as councilmember, mayor pro tem and mayor,” Jaworski told The Texan in an email. “Our present AG opposes local decision making authority; I have the experience of serving my community locally, and I know how to support and protect cities, counties and school boards in court.”
He said that his OAG “opinion section will side with cities, counties and school boards on matters where interpretation is required.”
Jaworski also told The Texan that he would seek to address “private authorization” abuse by private insurance companies.
“I am a fan of private insurance,” said Jaworski. “I will make sure, however, that insurance companies respect the training and discretion that Texas licensed physicians exercise every day when treating their patients, rather than routinely denying claims to pad their profits.”
But keeping with the common theme among all of Paxton’s challengers, Democrats and Republicans alike, Jaworski said his top issue in the OAG would be to “conduct myself with integrity, transparently and honesty, leading a 4,200 employee staff to achieve the highest and best outcomes.”
The primary election is currently slated for March 1, 2022, with candidates able to file for the ballot between November 13 and December 13, 2021.
Merritt and Garza did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publishing.
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Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.