Embattled incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton beat out Land Commissioner George P. Bush on Tuesday in the Republican primary runoff as Texas GOP voters picked a beleaguered candidate with legal and personal scandals over the last remaining Bush to serve in public office. Decision Desk called the race early for Paxton, about 40 minutes after polls closed.
Paxton has faced a securities fraud indictment for seven years. More recently, the FBI began investigating him for abuse of office after eight of his former top deputies accused him of bribery. He also reportedly had an extramarital affair. Paxton denies all wrongdoing.
Bush, who has served for seven years as the state’s land commissioner, campaigned on restoring integrity to the attorney general’s office and hit Paxton for his legal and ethical troubles. He also criticized Paxton’s legal acumen, saying some of his lawsuits were frivolous, including one that he filed to overturn the 2020 results in four battleground states where former President Donald Trump lost.
But none of Bush’s attacks gained traction with socially conservative voters in the runoff, who said they preferred Paxton’s combative style to Bush’s more civil and polished approach. Voters cited Paxton’s frequent lawsuits against the Biden administration on immigration and COVID-19 policies, as well as his efforts on hot-button social issues like abortion and LGBTQ rights.
While Bush had supporters who embraced his vision of a more diverse Republican Party that welcomed people of different viewpoints, a majority of voters tied him to his family’s center-right, pro-business politics. That approach is not conservative enough for today’s Texas GOP, which has largely turned against establishment candidates. His opponents rallied around a call to “end the Bush dynasty” and lambasted Bush for his rightward shift during the campaign.
In the lead-up to the runoff, Bush said he supported state investigations into families that provided gender-affirming health care to transgender children, and he made border security a priority issue.
Paxton hit Bush for his change of tone, resurfacing 2014 comments from Bush in which he expressed support for the Texas Dream Act, a 2001 law that allows undocumented immigrants to receive in-state tuition at public universities. Bush now says he supports the Republican Party of Texas’ platform to repeal the law.
The race was also noteworthy for its negative campaigning. Paxton’s camp created an attack website titled GeorgePBushFacts.com that denounced him as a “RINO establishment darling who has sold out Texas” and hit him for his office’s management of Hurricane Harvey relief funds and its handling of the redevelopment of the Alamo.
Bush struck back with KenTheCrook.com, which proclaimed “it’s time to fire Ken Paxton” and detailed several legal and ethical issues that have plagued Paxton, including the FBI investigation, his securities fraud case and his reported extramarital affair.
But none of the attacks stuck to Paxton, who continued campaigning with socially conservative groups while avoiding head-to-head encounters with Bush where he could expose himself to attack.
Bush, who had challenged Paxton to five debates in the runoff and pledged to take the battle to the incumbent, was frustrated in his attempts to draw out Paxton. He also received no help from the two defeated candidates in the Republican primary, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, who refused to endorse in the race.
Things got worse for Bush as a slew of GOP officeholders, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, released their endorsements of Paxton. Bush had been fighting an uphill battle since last year, when Trump rebuffed his request for an endorsement and instead sided with Paxton.
Paxton never took his foot off the pedal, continuing to file immigration lawsuits against the Biden administration and wading into legal battles over LGBTQ rights during the campaign. He frequently went on cable news shows to attack the Biden administration’s policies and lumped in Bush as the state’s “liberal land commissioner” with a “woke” agenda.
Paxton also fought back against those who questioned his ethics or legal acumen. When the state bar announced it was investigating a complaint against him for professional misconduct, Paxton called it a political attack and denounced the members of the disciplinary committee looking into the complaint as “leftist” Democratic sympathizers.
As the runoff election neared, polls showed Paxton with a strong lead over Bush. One poll found that 40% of Republican primary voters said they would never vote for Bush.
Paxton closed out the campaign confidently, attending packed meetings of conservative voters. Bush released a late flurry of negative attack ads against Paxton but did not gain the boost he needed.
Last week, Bush’s camp told reporters it would not have media availability on Election Day, a clear sign it did not expect a positive outcome. Paxton’s team, meanwhile, planned an election day watch party just north of Austin.
Paxton will face the winner of the Democratic runoff – either Brownsville lawyer Rochelle Garza or former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworksi – in the November general election, where the odds are in his favor, as no Democrat has won a statewide seat in Texas since 1994.
Some of your favorite Instagram filters can’t be used in Texas anymore and Austinites are sounding off on social media.
Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, announced on Wednesday that certain filters would no longer be available in Texas.
The change is a result of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawsuit against Meta, alleging the company uses facial recognition technology that violates laws in Texas. A release from Meta says it stopped using facial recognition tech in November 2021 and denies Paxton’s allegations.
Some Austinites bemoaned the shift, saying some of their favorite filters were now unavailable.
This was my FAVORITE filter on @instagram and they done removed it cause I’m in Texas ! Like wowwwwww pic.twitter.com/uX60hdIC0Q
— Pinkyy Montana (@inkstar_pinkyy) May 11, 2022
i heard that instagram filters got banned in texas? what the actual fuck y’all better give me my favorite filter back
— lia 🤍 (@liatootrill) May 11, 2022
loved this stupid filter sm i hate texas pic.twitter.com/DXr9mmUc64
— birthday boy jeno 🎂 (@beabtox) May 12, 2022
But more often than not, locals joked about the ban.
Texas women seeing the filter ban on IG pic.twitter.com/yDMcP3Qtsr
— Christian (Anabolic) Flores (@christian_flo24) May 11, 2022
So, the state of Texas has banned filter use on IG? THE END IS NEAR. 😂
— THE FRANCHISE! Франшиза (@NYCFranchise718) May 12, 2022
And some in-between chose to show off some natural beauty.
I live in Texas, but no filter needed. 😉 pic.twitter.com/A6teRgYMKn
— bad and bruja (@starseedmami) May 11, 2022
filter, no filter..texas women still reign supreme.
— 🎍 (@_sixile) May 11, 2022
Finally, some are trying to cash in on the opportunity.
Texas IG users- if you want to filter your picture cashapp me $1.50 $ErvnYng
— Gemini (@ervn_y) May 11, 2022
Meta said it plans to create an opt-in system for both Texas and Illinois residents, who are facing the same issues.
Austin Independent School District is holding its ground with mask mandates despite a back-and-forth ruling from courts across the state.
While a Monday court decision in Bexar County ruled local officials can allow face masks in public schools, the Texas Supreme Court ruled on Sunday against the same precautions in Dallas and Bexar counties. The Supreme Court ruling was a win for Gov. Greg Abbott, who barred local mask mandates, but it doesn't seem to be a done ordeal.
Nevertheless, AISD will join both Dallas and San Antonio in requiring masking in its schools as the school year starts on Tuesday.
Masks will still be required in all Austin ISD schools and facilities.
Los cubrebocas son obligatorios en todas las escuelas e instalaciones del Austin ISD. https://t.co/yoMUpfZhRE
— Austin ISD (@AustinISD) August 16, 2021
The school district sent a reminder via email to parents after the Sunday Supreme Court ruling, quoting Travis County Judge Andy Brown on the city's decision to keep masks in schools.
"Until we end up in litigation directly with the governor, we're going to keep our requirement that public schools require masks in place," Brown told KUT.
The decision comes in defiance of Gov. Greg Abbott, whose executive order in March prohibits local governments from enforcing masking for businesses, schools or government properties. Austin kept its mask rules long after Abbott's order and was subject to a lawsuit by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton later that month.
Paxton responded to the Supreme Court decision and warned other districts with mask mandates, including Austin, to "let this ruling serve as a reminder" that "the Governor's order stands."
Breaking: TX Supreme Court sides with the rule of law. Today, SCOTEX has ordered Dallas Co & Dallas ISD to follow Exec. Order GA-38. Local mask mandates are illegal under GA-38. Let this ruling serve as a reminder to all ISDs and Local officials that the Governor's order stands. https://t.co/s7AUVCXlJ1
— Attorney General Ken Paxton (@KenPaxtonTX) August 15, 2021
In a statement on Sunday, the city of San Antonio responded to the ruling and said that Bexar County's mask mandate, which includes all pre-K-12 public schools and city facilities, will remain in effect.
"The City of San Antonio and Bexar County's response to the Texas Supreme Court continues to emphasize that the Governor cannot use his emergency powers to suspend laws that provide local entities the needed flexibility to act in an emergency. His suspension authority is meant to facilitate action, not prohibit it," San Antonio City Attorney Andy Segovia said in a statement
In a similar fashion, Dallas ISD announced on Sunday it would also continue mask mandates within schools, though nearby Irving ISD said they would adhere to Abbott's order.
Previously scheduled hearings on mask mandates in both counties will begin as scheduled on Monday.
Austin remains in Stage 5, the highest of its risk-based recommendations, and continues to uphold a mask mandate in schools and city property in defiance of Abbott's orders. Mayor Steve Adler said that the city will continue to enforce masking, especially within Austin schools, until the state reaches a final decision.
This ruling does NOT address or decide whether school mandates are valid, nor does it rule against the local @AustinISD order, mine, the @AusPublicHealth or @TravisCoJudge's. While we await a final decision, we believe local rules are the rules. https://t.co/lNt5etPwby
— Mayor Adler | Get vaccinated! (@MayorAdler) August 15, 2021
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