In his bid for Texas Attorney General, Joe Jaworski is banking on his experience as the former mayor of Galveston and as a well-regarded 30-year trial lawyer specializing in mediation. In addition, he has one of the most notable last names in Texas legal lore.
Joe Jaworski’s grandfather, Leon Jaworski, was a scion of the Texas Bar, and at one point, one of the most influential and important law firms in Texas bore his name, Fulbright and Jaworski. The elder Jaworski achieved legendary status when he was named a Watergate special prosecutor by President Richard Nixon after the midnight firing of Archibald Cox. Through his work, the Jaworski name became synonymous with decency and integrity. His comment, “No one – absolutely no one – is above the law,” has become the rallying cry for the application of fairness and justice to all.
Joe Jaworski has carried on the family legacy as a third-generation trial lawyer. While mayor of Galveston, Jaworski focused on rebuilding the city after the devastation of Hurricane Ike. In an interview with Texas Signal, Jaworski spoke about his bid to oust Ken Paxton, and what he would bring to the attorney general’s office.
If Jaworski’s grandfather is a shining example of legal integrity, Ken Paxton lands on the opposite end of the spectrum. Paxton’s recent trip to Washington included a prominent role as a speaker at a rally for former President Trump just hours before the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. In the aftermath, Paxton claimed that the people who stormed the Capitol weren’t Trump supporters.
Paxton has not apologized or taken any personal accountability for his role in the insurrection. “He had an opportunity to own up to [his actions] and given the opportunity, he failed again,” says Jaworski. In the week after the insurrection, Jaworski penned an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle calling on the Texas House to suspend Paxton for his role in the riot.
Jaworski views Paxton’s recent actions, which included filing a Supreme Court case to toss out the votes from four swing states, as self-serving, and a way to curry favor with the Trump base. “The attorney general is expected to be the adult in the room, and he is falling well short of that,” says Jaworski.
Now with a new Democratic president, Paxton has vowed to ramp up the partisanship. Just fifty hours after Biden was sworn in as president, Paxton filed a lawsuit against the administration’s deportation freeze. A Trump-appointed judge ruled in favor of Paxton’s halt on the moratorium, though the Biden administration is expected to appeal.
According to Jaworski, Paxton’s legal overreach has extended to even more issues beyond immigration, such as voting rights and abortion. “He’s abusing the courts and making Texas a vexatious litigant which is embarrassing and reduces our standing amongst the Union.”
Though Jaworski acknowledges that a state attorney general is not a legislator, one policy that he would like to see prioritized is the legalization of “adult-use purpose cannabis.” Not only does he believe in the medicinal property of marijuana for those suffering from illnesses or PTSD, but also there is a pro-business argument for legalization. Jaworski also notes that low-level drug arrests are often “time-consuming” and “wasteful” for police and prosecutors that often take away resources.
Even though the Texas primary is over a year away, Jaworski has raised a substantial amount of money since announcing his candidacy in September. His campaign announced they raised over $330,000 in the last quarter.
Jaworski recognizes the enthusiasm in the state for booting Paxton. But he also realizes that many Texas Democrats feel some whiplash after a disappointing 2020 election where they failed to flip not only several congressional seats, but also the state house. Still, he has faith in Texas voters. Not only is Trump not on the ballot in 2022, but Jaworski believes Paxton will once again overplay his hand and create a motivated voting base.
“The attorney general is arguably the most important full-time fully empowered state leader,” says Jaworski. He makes the observation that the governor is ultimately a weak position, and the legislature is part-time. This is one reason he sees the position of attorney general as hugely influential in the state.
Differentiating himself from Paxton, Jaworski vows as attorney general he will not embarrass Texas in the Supreme Court or file frivolous legislation. “When we take action, it will be to protect Texans consumer rights and not pull a political stunt.”