AUSTIN (KXAN) — Ken Paxton won the Republican runoff for Texas attorney general, beating Land Commissioner George P. Bush.
Paxton led the way in the primary but could not clear the 50% vote threshold to avoid a runoff. Bush finished second in the four candidate field, edging out Congressman Louie Gohmert and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.
Paxton began a victory speech around 8:50 p.m. by acknowledging the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
“I’m not gonna forget these people even as we’re here celebrating a victory. I want you to remember them in your prayers and, you know — we’re Texans first. Elections — and elections, and we go fight it out in America, we argue for our ideas but in the end, it doesn’t matter whether these people are Republican or Democrat, they’re fellow Texans and fellow Americans. We love them and we’re going to pray for them.”
Paxton received 631,581 votes (67.98%) to Bush’s 297,480 (32.02%).
Paxton thanked his family and members of his campaign.
“It’s really Texans that made a difference for me, and I had the chance to, again, travel the state and just connect to people that realize this country’s in trouble, and we’re in trouble, but we have hope. We’ll fight and elect leaders that will go fight, and the entire reason I decided to run for another term was so that we could go fight together, we could lead the other states — as many as will join us in the fight to save our country.”
Paxton joked he probably could have filed a few more lawsuits against the Biden administration if he hadn’t been campaigning and urged people to re-elect his fellow Republicans in the fall.
Paxton has been Texas’ top lawyer since 2015. Both he and Bush have made the border a large part of their platform.
Bush challenged Paxton to five televised debates. Paxton did not respond to that challenge.
Bush sought to highlight ongoing legal issues facing Paxton. He is still facing a criminal case, for which he was indicted on securities fraud charges in 2015, as well as a newer FBI investigation and lawsuit brought against him by his former aides.
Paxton has called the investigations partisan and biased.
Bush released a statement to his supporters, saying “never stop fighting for a cause you believe is just.”
“Things didn’t go as we planned. But after the tragic events of earlier today, it’s important to keep life’s temporary disappointments in perspective,” Bush wrote. “There are grieving parents in South Texas today. My family and I are grieving with them.”
He continued, saying “we will continue to fight of the rule of law in Texas. I trust and pray in Gov. Abbott’s ability to control the southern border and work to ensure the system of justice and respect for Texas laws are honored and maintained.”
Polling from the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas shows both Bush and Paxton have low favorability ratings among voters. But their numbers showed a slight edge for Paxton with 35% favorability versus 28% for Bush.