National civil rights attorney and activist Lee Merritt launched his Democratic campaign to unseat the current Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at a press conference in Austin on Tuesday.
“Texas Republicans have launched an all-out assault on voter rights and civil liberties,” Merritt said. “General Paxton, Governor Abbott, and the Republican-dominated Texas legislature are blatantly attempting to turn back progress in the Lone Star State using the familiar tactics of voter suppression, divisive rhetoric, and corporate money.”
Merritt’s decision to run came shortly after the deadly winter storm that left millions without power. His campaign will focus on ensuring voter protection and constitutional compliance across Texas, along with fixing the state’s power grid, reigning in property taxes, ending mass incarceration, and challenging gubernatorial overreach.
“This campaign is a response from the people of Texas,” he added. “We are fighting for an executive branch in Texas that serves the needs of all its citizens and not just the elite. It’s our turn.”
Merritt has established a national profile as an advocate for the families of individuals killed by law enforcement, including those of George Floyd and Ahmaud. From his own party, Merritt joins former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski in the race for the job of Texas’ top law enforcement officer. On the Republican side, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman are also running to unseat Paxton.
The election to decide the state’s next attorney general will be held on Nov. 8, 2022. A primary will be held on March 1, 2022. A Democrat hasn’t won statewide office in Texas in over 25 years, but Merritt said he’s seeing a desire for change in even rural areas across the state and drew attention to the incumbent candidate’s vulnerability in the wake of extensive legal troubles. Paxton has been under an ongoing securities fraud case since 2015 and now faces FBI investigation of allegations of bribery leveled by his former top aides. Though he has pleaded not guilty in both cases, he is also under further investigation by the Texas bar association into whether his failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus claims of fraud amounted to professional misconduct.
In his campaign video, Merritt highlighted Paxton’s entanglements with the law and levied accusations that the attorney general “betrayed his oath.”