Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX-01) is currently vying to be the next Texas Attorney General, clearing the way for one of four potential Republican successors.
Aditya “A.D.” Atholi, Joe McDaniel, Nathaniel Moran, and John Porro are on the ballot in the Republican primary. Though there are four Democratic candidates in the March 1 primary, The Texan’s Texas Partisan Index ranks the district at R-74%, making a Republican victory on Election Day overwhelmingly likely.
A.D. Atholi is an oil rig worker and manager who once worked in Gohmert’s congressional office in Washington, D.C.
In an interview with The Texan, he pointed to the federal government and emphasized his concerns about issues such as insufficient border security and the national debt.
“The root cause of everything is federal government overreach, federal government size, and federal government ineptitude,” Atholi said.
“So that’s why I’m running because I think now is when we have to draw a line in the sand and actually fight against these career politicians and the special interests that only want the status quo, and they’re not looking to solve problems.”
A former Marine artillery officer, Atholi commented on how he would approach illegal immigration.
“I think all border security funds — instead of Congress allocating it to [the U.S. Department of Homeland Security] or different federal agencies — should go straight to the border states,” Atholi said. “What we do with that is we bypass the federal bureaucracy that is completely out of touch with not just the American people, but they’re out of touch with their own workers.”
The candidate also indicated that he intends to join the House Freedom Caucus.
Atholi reported $21,737 in contributions in the most recent campaign finance report.
“I am an outsider candidate who doesn’t have a membership to the Smith County political bubble. I am not someone who settles and I am not the one to be quiet. I don’t quit,” entrepreneur Joe McDaniel stated on his campaign website. “I aim to familiarize Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party with the stubborn persistence that comes out of having to push to succeed.
The Texan has not yet heard back from McDaniel’s campaign. No campaign finance information is available for McDaniel.
Nathanial Moran is a lawyer who has been the county judge in Smith County since his predecessor, Joel Baker, was removed from office by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct in 2016.
Moran has been endorsed by Texas Right to Life, a pro-life interest group based in Houston.
As county judge, Moran led a measure to make Smith County a “Second Amendment sanctuary” in 2019. Only one member of the commissioners court, Democrat JoAnn Hampton, opposed the decision.
Those who have endorsed Moran’s candidacy include Tyler Mayor Don Warren and Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola).
One point of controversy in the race is Moran’s response to COVID-19, which included a stay-at-home order that lasted until April 30, 2020.
After stating emphatically on March 23, 2020, that he had “no plans” to issue a stay-at-home order and that it would be a “last resort,” Moran instituted one Friday the same week, citing public health and the uncertainty of the coronavirus.
In an interview with The Texan, Moran emphasized that the order was a temporary measure designed to protect human life — one that no one was arrested for violating.
“The conservative groups in Smith County have given me thumbs-up positive reviews for how I handled COVID because in truth, there was no notebook for this,” Moran said. “There was no ability for us to say, ‘Hey, let’s look at history and try and figure out how this works.’”
One of those conservative organizations is Grassroots America We The People, which endorsed the county judge and stated his “record proves he is a conservative.”
Moran further stated that Smith County was among those that declined to enforce Gov. Greg Abbott’s statewide mask mandate.
The county judge offered glowing words for Gohmert and stated that his aim is to be true to his own personality while following the congressman’s lead as a conservative stalwart.
Moran reported $342,750 in contributions in the most recent campaign finance report.
John Porro is a physician assistant who serves on the board of directors of the Texas Association of Physician Assistants.
In an interview with The Texan, Porro emphasized that he is centering his candidacy on opposition to socialism.
“Because we’re fighting against socialism, the first thing we need to do is push back their gains that they have made against the First Amendment because all the other amendments flow through the First Amendment,” Porro said.
“You cannot have a socialist society if you have freedom of speech, and that is why they’re attacking it so hard.”
Porro worked as the captain of a volunteer rescue squad on Long Island, New York, and was among those who responded after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
He emphasized that he came from a Christian, conservative home and characterized it as “refreshing” to be in East Texas among like-minded people.
“There is the elephant in the room that I am originally from New York, and when I moved down to Texas, I moved to Dallas,” Porro said. “What I didn’t realize when I was born in New York, is that I was actually an East Texan who was accidentally born in New York.”
Porro reported $40,759 in campaign donations in the most recent filing.
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- A.D. Atholi
- Attorney General
- Border Security
- border wall
- East Texas
- Elections 2022
- Grassroots America--We The People
- Illegal Immigration
- Joe McDaniel
- Joel Baker
- John Porro
- Louie Gohmert
- Nathaniel Moran
- Second Amendment sanctuary
- Smith County
- Texas Association of Physician Assistants
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."