AUSTIN (KXAN) — Republican Ken Paxton was re-elected as attorney general after being challenged by Democrat Rochelle Garza.
Leading up to the 2022 midterm election, some polls indicated this race could be one of the Democrats’ best chances at winning a statewide office. Republican candidates have held the position for three decades.
The Associated Press called the race in Paxton’s favor just before 11:30 p.m. election night.
Paxton will serve for a third term as the state’s top attorney after taking office in 2015.
Since then, he has filed more than 30 lawsuits against federal officials under the Biden administration, over issues such as abortion and election integrity. Paxton has emphasized his goal of preserving the Constitution, which he believes is “under assault from liberals that seek to centralize power,” according to his campaign website. KXAN reached out to Paxton several times for comment leading up to the election but never heard back.
Joined by his wife, State Senator Angel Paxton, he told a crowd of supporters in Plano on Tuesday night that his work was just getting starting.
“We are going to be on the front lines of watching what they are doing: overstepping and literally having complete disrespect for this idea of separation of powers,” he said. “They are going to continue to come after me. They are going to continue to come after Texas. They are going to continue to come after Republicans around the country.”
Garza had her own promise to supporters and Texans, releasing a statement after the race was called that read in part, “I will not stop advocating for you until our reproductive rights are restored, our civil rights are protected, and our elected officials are accountable to us, the people. Although these aren’t the results we hoped for, I know that together we will be at the forefront of change.”
Paxton’s campaign has avoided discussing his own ongoing legal issues, including a pending securities fraud indictment from years ago to more recent allegations of abuse of office and official misconduct, as well as an investigation by the FBI.
In the 2018 election, three years after his indictment, Paxton won the race by over three percentage points.
In the days leading up to the 2022 midterms, Paxton’s office launched the Election Integrity Team and has been investigating complaints about alleged voting violations.
Paxton has also rallied supporters over issues of public safety, reminding them about the special unit combating human trafficking he created and his coordination with state law enforcement on border security. He has attacked the response of the federal government and his opponent on border policies, claiming Garza supports completely open borders and defends human traffickers.
KXAN’s Avery Travis spoke to the Democratic candidate at a rally in Hays County on the last day of early voting, where Garza addressed her opponent’s attacks.
“I started off my legal career as an immigration lawyer, and I know we have to be tough on human trafficking, drug trafficking, and we can do all of those things. And we can also treat people humanely,” she said. “I’m going to be fighting for Texans. If that includes making sure that we hold the federal government accountable to do their job, then that’s just what it includes.”
Garza said her work as a civil rights attorney and her role as a mother to a 7-month-old daughter makes her someone who “deeply understands” Texas working families and the issues they care about — especially when it comes to Texans’ grievances with the health care system.”
She has centered her campaign around abortion rights in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, but she said she also hopes to focus on consumer protections.
In response to a recent KXAN investigation regarding problems with the office’s Crime Victims’ Compensation division, Garza said she would prioritize funding and resources for employees in that division to help disperse the money owed to victims more efficiently.
In recent weeks, Paxton has filed lawsuits against big tech companies over users’ privacy concerns and has helped launched a new opioid prevention program, aimed at protecting student-athletes. His campaign said he has been aggressive in his approach to protecting Texans from illegal synthetic drugs.