U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Tyler, announced Monday he is running for attorney general, challenging fellow Republican Ken Paxton, in the already crowded primary.
"Texas I am officially running to be your next Attorney General and will enforce the rule of law," Gohmert tweeted after announcing his campaign on Newsmax.
Gohmert announced earlier this month that he would join the GOP lineup against Paxton if he could raise $1 million in 10 days. The 10th day was Friday. Gohmert said in an announcement video that he has "reached our initial goal of raising $1 million in order to start a run for" attorney general, though he did not confirm whether he was able to collect it in 10 days.
Gohmert is at least the fourth primary opponent that Paxton has drawn. The others have included Land Commissioner George P. Bush, former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman and state Rep. Matt Krause of Fort Worth. At least three Democrats are also running for the job.
However, shortly after Gohmert's announcement Monday evening, Krause said he was leaving the primary to instead run for Tarrant County district attorney. Krause said he planned to support Gohmert for attorney general.
The race has attracted intense interest due to Paxton's legal problems, which include a 2015 securities fraud indictment that remains pending. Paxton has also come under FBI investigation over claims by former top staffers that he abused his office to help a wealthy donor. He has denied wrongdoing in both cases. Gohmert has latched on to those legal issues, warning they could cause Paxton to lose the general election.
In the announcement video, Gohmert called "election integrity" a priority of his campaign and criticized Paxton, saying he only "started working harder" after the allegations by his former lieutenants.
"If you allow me, I will not wait to be my busiest until after there's some bad press about illegal improprieties," Gohmert said. "I'll start boldly protecting your rights on Day 1."
Paxton's campaign had no comment on Gohmert's announcement.
Gohmert was originally scheduled to announce his decision Friday on Mark Davis' radio show in Dallas, but he never called in and the show went off air without hearing from him. He also kept the political world in suspense Monday, tweeting in the morning that he would release an announcement video "later today." It was not until after 7:30 p.m. that he announced his decision — and first on Newsmax, the conservative outlet, before releasing the video as promised.
Gohmert is one of the most far-right members of Congress and an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, who has endorsed Paxton for another term. After Trump lost reelection last year, Gohmert filed a long-shot lawsuit asking former Vice President Mike Pence to challenge Joe Biden’s legitimacy as president-elect. When a federal court dismissed the suit, he appeared to suggest violence in response, which he later denied.
Gohmert has downplayed the deadly riot that broke out at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 when a mob of Trump supporters stormed the building. Gohmert also has sought — unsuccessfully — to visit the defendants from the riot in jail.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2021/11/18/louie-gohmert-texas-attorney-general-ken-paxton/. The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.