DALLAS — With a little more than three weeks until the March primary, George P. Bush is on a statewide campaign tour, knocking on doors, calling voters and also defending himself from attacks by fellow Republicans.
Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman, perhaps closest in ideology to Bush, said the outgoing land commissioner has no experience, no judgment and has not had an active law license for a decade.
On Sunday’s Inside Texas Politics, Bush hit back.
"I've not only been a private attorney but also an attorney as [Texas] land commissioner, I brought suits on behalf of the State of Texas, for school children, which are my beneficiary and really the taxpayers’ beneficiary," Bush said on Sunday’s Inside Texas Politics. "Whether it's defending the banks of the Red River or taking on radical environmentalist plaintiff’s attorneys under the Endangered Species Act. So, a lot of people talk about suing the federal government, but I actually have. As land commissioner, I've defended the oil and gas industry and I've actually won in the courtroom."
Polls have Bush virtually tied in a distant second place with retiring congressman Louie Gohmert in the Republican race for Texas attorney general. Incumbent Ken Paxton remains in the lead with more than 40% of support.
But Paxton needs 50% of the vote plus one to become the nominee and avoid a runoff.
Watch the segment below:
“Well, we like the trajectory that we're on,” Bush said on the television program. “Earlier on, you know, whether it's the Dallas Morning News or other polling sources out there, they show that we are gaining ground, and they also show that only one to five Republicans know that their top attorney is facing three felony counts and is under FBI investigation. So, my message is very simple, you need to fire him because he's under a cloud of suspicion, but you need to hire me because I bring specific ideas on securing border backing law enforcement and restoring integrity to the top cop position.”
Paxton faces a felony charge from 2015 for securities fraud and a reported investigation by the FBI after seven top staff members accused him of corruption.
Paxton denies any wrongdoing and he declined an invitation to appear on Inside Texas Politics.
“I think it's building to be a successful race,” Bush continued. “We've said all along this would be a runoff between me and Ken and, if you look at the history of Texas politics, when a statewide incumbent gets forced into a runoff it's usually bad sign that a majority of Republicans from his own party want to change. So, in a runoff, I'm ready to be that voice to clean up corruption, not only in the attorney general's office, but in county and local government. That's the role of what the A.G. needs to take on is to ensure integrity and honesty in our process.”
In his campaign ads and material, like most Republicans including the state comptroller, Bush pledges to “secure” the international border with Mexico. It’s red meat from Republican primary voters who rate that as one of their most important issues.
But securing the border is not a responsibility of the Texas attorney general.
“Well, as land commissioner, I made it early on in my administration to start building the Texas wall. And so that's why I worked at the Texas legislature and I'm proud to report that will finish on state acreage about eight miles of wall in highly trafficked area where 200 migrants come across,” Bush explained. “As attorney general I think you can use the platform to advocate in the halls of power in our legislature to enhance criminal sentencing for human traffickers and drug smugglers. We are not getting serious enough about this problem.”
Early voting begins Monday, Feb. 14.
Election day is Tuesday, March 1.