HOUSTON — A new UT poll shows three Republican candidates gaining ground on incumbent Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in the March primary.
A University of Texas poll released Feb. 14 shows Paxton with 47% of the vote, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush with 21%, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman with 16%, and Rep. Louie Gohmert with 15%.
If no candidate gets more than half the votes, the top two move on to a runoff.
“A lot of these candidates are nipping at (Paxton’s) heels,” said Charles Blain, President of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute.
Blain also worked on Gov. Greg Abbott’s campaign in 2014.
“I think Gohmert’s entrance really took away some of that air out of the room when it comes to terms of his conservatism, and so now we’re started to see that reflected in poll numbers a bit,” Blain said.
Although former President Donald Trump endorsed Paxton, Blain said Gohmert is running as a Trump-style candidate with a similar Congressional record.
Blain said Bush is playing up the border issue, while Guzman is calling on the need to restore integrity to the AG’s office after Paxton’s legal issues.
“They’re all trying to pick away at different areas of General Paxton, pull away a little bit at some of what he has built over the last four years,” he said.
Meanwhile, Blain said Paxton has been focusing on outside-of-the-norm issues with recent lawsuits against Meta on facial recognition and the CDC on mask guidance for airlines.
“These are all issues that Republican primary voters deeply care about and have been very vocal about their concerns about, and I think Paxton is trying to play on those and use that to his advantage,” he said.
Blain thinks the candidates will mostly try to get loyal Republican primary voters to the polls but also new Hispanic Republican voters from the 2020 election.
On the Democrats’ side, five candidates are battling it out for that party’s nomination.
No Democrat has won statewide office since 1994, so there’s a good chance whoever wins the Republican primary will be the next Texas Attorney General.