HOUSTON — The Texas Attorney General's seat was up for grabs on Election Day. Political newcomer Rochelle Garza was hoping to knock two-term Ken Paxton out of his position, but Paxton retained his seat. The Associated Press called the race around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Who is Ken Paxton?
Republican Paxton is hoping to hold on to his seat as Texas attorney general as his Democratic opponent, Garza, fights to unseat him. She would be the first Democrat in the position in decades.
As the state's top attorney, Paxton’s first major initiative was forming a special unit dedicated to combating human trafficking in Texas. During its first year of existence, the Human Trafficking and Transnational Organized Crime section helped arrest the chief executive officer of Backpage.com and helped shut down the largest online sex-trafficking marketplace in the United States, the AG website says.
Paxton’s time in office, however, has been haunted by accusations of illegal or unethical behavior. He's been under indictment for alleged securities fraud. More recently, the FBI began investigating him for abuse of office after eight of his former top deputies accused him of bribery.
Paxton has retained his seat for more than seven years after being elected for a second term in 2018. He has denied wrongdoing and dismissed the charges as politically motivated as he runs for a third term.
Who is Rochelle Garza?
As a newcomer to Texas politics, Garza has faced an uphill battle in her efforts to unseat Paxton.
She's an underdog who's underfunded, but recent polls showed Garza is within single digits of Paxton, the Texas Tribune reported.
“I keep telling folks this is our race to lose,” Garza said in early October. “This is the closest we have come in almost 30 years and it’s time we elect a Democrat to this office.”
The Texas Attorney General’s office is composed of more than 4,000 employees in 38 divisions and 117 offices around Texas. It includes nearly 750 attorneys, who handle more than 30,000 cases each year, according to the Texas AG website. Those cases include enforcing child support orders, protecting Texans against consumer fraud, enforcing open government laws, providing legal advice to state officials, and representing the state of Texas in court, among other things.
The responsibility of the office is to defend the laws and the Constitution of the State of Texas, represent the state in litigation and approve public bond issues.
Although the attorney general is prohibited from offering legal advice or representing private individuals, the person in the position serves and protects the rights of all citizens of Texas through the activities of the various divisions of the agencies, the website says. The Attorney General is also charged with the collection of court-ordered child support and the administration of the Crime Victims' Compensation Fund.
The Attorney General’s Office identifies safety and security threats in Texas. The resources of the office, along with other state and federal agencies and community organizations, are marshaled to address threats such as human trafficking, border security, election integrity, big tech, cyber safety for children, and the opioid crisis.