Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush said Thursday he was “seriously” considering running for attorney general in 2022 – and explained how he would challenge incumbent, embattled Republican compatriot Ken Paxton.
“There have been some serious allegations against the current attorney general,” Bush said in an interview with Mark Davis, the Dallas radio host. “Personally, I think the top Texas law enforcement officer must be above reproach.”
Bush, the grandson of former President George HW Bush and nephew of President George W. Bush, said a Paxton challenge would not focus on “conservative references” but on how the incumbent ran his office. “I think character and integrity are important,” said Bush.
The land commissioner, currently in his second term, has been leaving open the option to run for another nationwide office in 2022 – including attorney general – but his remarks on Thursday offered the strongest indication yet that he was up Paxton concentrated. Bush did not provide a timetable for a decision on the race other than to say that he is currently focused on the legislature and will visit voters afterwards. The meeting ends on May 31st.
Bush has given additional interviews in the past few days, including his interest in a challenge for Paxton, and told Fox News earlier this week that he is “taking the competition very seriously.”
Paxton has repeatedly said he plans to seek a third term next year despite a number of new and old scandals. Last year, seven of Paxton’s best aides accused him of taking bribes and abusing his office to help a wealthy donor. These aides were later dismissed or resigned, and the FBI has been found to be investigating the claims made against him. And for almost all of his time as Attorney General, he was charged with fraud in state securities.
Paxton has denied misconduct in both the FBI investigation and the securities fraud case.
“Attorney General Paxton is focused on securing the Texas border, holding the Biden administration accountable and taking over Big Tech,” Paxton campaign spokesman Ian Prior said in a statement that responded to Bush’s interview. “It is unfortunate, but not surprising, to see a potential adversary who is more interested in the narrative of the liberal media than in the real and important problems faced by families and small businesses in Texas.”
Bush persisted in the Davis interview with Paxton, saying the attorney general “has been in the civil service for 20 years and I’m not sure if another four years will bring anything better to Texas.”
“From my seat in Austin, I saw some highly skilled lawyers leave this office,” Bush said. “I’ve visited many Conservative attorneys general across the country. They are embarrassed about the behavior, and I think Texans deserve better.”
Bush said Texans “need a top cop that our great state’s law enforcement can trust,” adding that sheriffs across the state have told him the same thing. Asked by Davis to identify sheriffs who told him so, Bush refused, saying he had promised “confidentiality” to the sheriffs.
Former President Donald Trump would undoubtedly be a point of discussion in any showdown between Bush and Paxton. Paxton has teamed up closely with Trump as attorney general, most notably asking the Supreme Court late last year to overturn Trump’s re-election loss in four battlefield states. Paxton then spoke at the pro-Trump rally that preceded the deadly uprising in the U.S. Capitol in January. And Paxton has kept in touch with Trump since he stepped down and visited him at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida in late February.
Bush is the most prominent member of his famous political family to support Trump, standing behind him in the summer of 2016 after he officially became the GOP candidate.
Speaking to Davis, Bush argued that there is “no division” between him and Paxton when it comes to being conservative and supporting Trump.
“When you pick up the paper there are good lawsuits, good ideologies and records, but it’s about how you run an office, how you run and how you set an example to our kids and members of the Texas Bar,” Bush said .
On the Democratic side, Paxton has already pulled a challenge from Joe Jaworski, a Galveston attorney and former mayor of the city. Lee Merritt, the nationally known civil rights attorney from Collin County, has also said he was running for the job despite not having disclosed whether he is fighting as a Democrat, Republican, or anything else.