WASHINGTON -- Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, announced Monday that he is running for Texas attorney general, launching a challenge against incumbent Republican Ken Paxton, who has secured the backing of former president Donald Trump.
In an announcement video released Monday night, Gohmert said his team had "reached our initial goal of raising $1 million," a figure on which the Texas Republican set his sights earlier this month.
"So, I will be filing to run for Texas attorney general," Gohmert said in the announcement video. "Our priority will be election integrity, so that every legal vote counts."
Gohmert is jumping into an already crowded GOP primary. Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush - the son of former Florida governor Jeb Bush and nephew of former president George W. Bush - is also running, as is former Texas Supreme Court judge Eva Guzman. Another candidate, Texas state Rep. Matt Krause, who recently gained attention for publishing a list of books he claims make students feel "discomfort," ended his campaign Monday night. Krause said he would run for Tarrant County district attorney rather than state attorney general.
Krause said he intends to support Gohmert, telling the Texas Tribune that Gohmert is "running in the same exact lane that I was, and I think it makes a lot of sense to try to help him out."
Gohmert has downplayed the seriousness of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob and opposed mask mandates to stop the spread of the coronavirus. After testing positive for the virus last year, he said he would take hydroxychloroquine, the antimalarial drug pushed by Trump despite warnings from health officials about significant risks.
This past June, he questioned National Forest Service officials about whether the agency could change the Earth's orbit.
Paxton has spent most of his tenure as attorney general fighting an indictment on securities fraud charges. In 2015, he pleaded not guilty to three felony counts and since has been under indictment. He went on to win reelection three years later by fewer than four percentage points.
On his campaign site, Gohmert does not mention Paxton's name directly, but he claims that the sitting attorney general has helped land Texas in "grave trouble."
"We need a Texas Attorney General whose top attorneys working for him have not found it necessary to send a letter to the FBI urging an investigation into corruption of their boss," Gohmert writes on the site, alluding to an FBI criminal investigation launched in October 2020 probing claims that Paxton abused his office to help a wealthy donor. Paxton denies any wrongdoing.
"If you allow me, I will not wait to be my busiest until after some bad press about legal improprieties," Gohmert said in Monday night's video. "I'll start boldly protecting your rights on Day One."
Trump has already endorsed Paxton for a third term, making Gohmert's jump into the race even more surprising. In July, the former president said Paxton is a "true Texan who will keep Texas safe."