GOP candidates for Texas attorney general debated on Thursday night and were barely able to acknowledge Joe Biden won the 2020 election.
When the candidates were asked to raise their hand if they believed Biden won in 2020, only Land Commissioner George P. Bush shot up his arm. Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman began to raise her hand, then looked over to other candidates for their reaction before raising her hand too.
“It’s undetermined from my perspective, but yes, I’m raising my hand, he’s our president,” Guzman said.
“I don’t know whether he did or not,” said U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, later relenting, “If that’s the question, he’s president. No question about it, he is the legitimate president.”
Incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton was not in attendance, but it’s doubtful he would have raised his hand. Paxton attempted to overturn the 2020 election by legally challenging the results in key swing states. The suit was later thrown out by the U.S. Supreme Court.
When the candidates were asked if they would have filed the same lawsuit, Bush said no because it was a frivolous lawsuit and done incorrectly.
“There’s a lot to be learned from Bush v. Gore litigation where good conservative lawyers travel to the jurisdictions in question and challenge those laws before the election day, rather than the day after an election day,” Bush said. “That’s why many of these courts threw out those lawsuits, and that’s why the Supreme Court tossed out Paxton’s lawsuit.”
Gohmert said no because Paxton’s lawsuit did not have standing. Guzman did not answer the question and instead used her time to attack Bush for trying to redesign the Alamo.
The GOP candidates were also asked how they would use the attorney general’s office on the issue of border security.
“What we need to do with the troopers and national guard on our border is stop the invasion, repel the invasion,” Gohmert said, comparing the arrival of immigrants and refugees to Pancho Villa, a Mexican bandit turned revolutionary general who raided Texas towns for military equipment. “That was an invasion, they sent tens of thousands of military [sic] down to chase him. Look, we don’t have to chase them to North Mexico, we just have to repel the invasion.”
Bush promised a “mobile prosecution unit” and to deploy all available legal resources to match the enthusiasm of Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lonestar, an immigration enforcement initiative that is being sued by civil rights groups for discrimination and for trampling the federal government’s jurisdiction of enforcing immigration law.
Candidates were also asked if they agreed with a recent attorney general opinion by Paxton classifying medical procedures and medications for trans children as child abuse under Texas law.
“I do, but I question the timing of it,” Bush said, accusing Paxton of trying to rally Republican voters before the March primary.
Gohmert said Paxton took too long and waited until after the legislative session to act.
“I agree it’s child abuse,” Guzman said.
All three GOP candidates said they would use the attorney general’s office to support indicted Austin police officers who were accused of police brutality and charged with aggravated assault by a public servant. Earlier this week, Governor Abbott said he may “exonerate” the accused officers.
Likewise, all three candidates said they supported and would defend Texas’ ongoing six-week abortion ban.
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org