Statewide GOP hopefuls

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In the final days before party primary elections March 1, many Texans are considering the records of top state officials seeking re-election.

One is Republican Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton, seeking his third four-year term as the state’s top lawyer.

In addition to a long-standing indictment for a securities violation, and suing four swing states to try to help Donald Trump get certified as winning an election he lost, and several top assistants writing federal investigators to report favors done by Paxton for a campaign contributor, a relatively recent move by Paxton may be coming back to bite him during his re-election battle.

It is a filing with the State Bar of Texas by Michael Shirk, a retired lawyer after 30 years, including his final job as a prosecutor in the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

Shirk is seeking to disbar Paxton as an attorney for asking people to put pressure on members of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, a nine-member elective body.

Paxton wanted the judges to reconsider their 8-1 decision in December that the attorney general cannot unilaterally prosecute election law violations. He can, however, be involved if requested by a local district attorney.

Paxton had angrily denounced on right-wing media the December decision by the state’s highest criminal court. All nine judges are Republicans.

“Call them out by name,” Paxton had told viewers of Lindell TV, an online forum sponsored by MyPillow CEO and Donald Trump supporter Mike Lindell, on Jan. 17. “There’s eight of them that voted the wrong way. Call them, send mail, send email.”

Paxton questioned if the judges were true Republicans. He said their decision was part of a conspiracy to help Democrats fraudulently win elections, because Democratic district attorneys won’t prosecute such fraud.

Shirk had read of Paxton’ complaints about the court, and solicitation of people to pressure the judges. He provided a copy to the Austin American-Statesman of his State Bar complaint.

Texas rules about lawyer conduct place strict limits on the contact attorneys can have with judges outside of court, and specifically prohibit them from soliciting others to speak to judges on their behalf about a case.

A State Bar official said the accusations are considered for up to 30 days to see if they indeed contain indications of professional misconduct. If they do, the accused lawyer is given 30 days to respond.

Only after that would State Bar investigators interview witnesses, for up to 60 days, though adjudication could take longer to decide whether the lawyer should be disbarred, or deserves lesser punishment.

In other words, this won’t be completed before the March Primary, or probably before the May 24 runoff, if one is necessary.

One other twist: In Texas, the attorney general is not required to be an attorney.

Paxton is challenged in the GOP primary by Land Commissioner George P. Bush, U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, and former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.

Democratic Primary Candidates are Mike Fields, Rochelle Garza, Joe Jaworski, Lee Merritt, and S. T-Bone Raynor.


A friend a few days ago, a reliable Democrat, said he had voted early – but in the Republican primary, not the Democratic.

The Republican primary? What’s up?

Our conversation went something like this:

“Well, I figured the Democrats are almost dead certain to pick Beto O’Rourke for governor. Mike Collier will probably win for lieutenant governor, though it may take a runoff, because he was polling in the 40s.

“And for attorney general, several of the Democrats look good. So I didn’t think there was much I needed to try to affect in the Democratic primary.

“But, If I voted in the Republican primary, it would give me at least two chances to vote against Ken Paxton for Attorney general – or maybe three — By voting for one of his opponents.”

Explain that.

“Well, I voted against him in the March 1 primary,” said the acquaintance, a lawyer. “Paxton has been showing below 50 percent in the polls – maybe missing a chance to win without a runoff. If there is a runoff, on May 24, I’ll get to vote for the other candidate. So I will have voted against Paxton twice.

“And then, if he survived that runoff, and makes it to the general election Nov. 8, I’ll get one more chance to vote against him.”

Well, what about the other races? Governor? Lieutenant governor? And so on?

“Oh, I just voted for someone besides Greg Abbott or Dan Patrick in those races, and for someone else in all the other races where there was a Republican incumbent.”

Think it’ll work?

“Probably not. But I figured I might as well give it a try.”


Friday, Feb. 25, is the last day for in-person early voting.

If you didn’t vote in a primary election, you can vote in either party’s runoff. But if you voted in a primary, you’re limited to that party’s runoff.

You can register to vote up to 30 days before an election.

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