Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert’s decision to give up a safe Republican seat in the House take on a troubled state attorney general ended in defeat Tuesday, when he finished last in a four-person primary.
A firebrand who led pre-Jan. 6 efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results and has since denounced the “un-American and illegal treatment” of people detained after the riots, Gohmert decided to take on state Attorney General Ken Paxton, a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump himself who was facing mounting legal troubles.
Gohmert was fourth, with 17 percent of the vote, while Paxton led with 43 percent and was headed toward a runoff against state Land Commissioner George P. Bush, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and grandson of former President George H.W. Bush.
Gohmert had argued that he would do a better job representing conservative values in the federal courts than Paxton, who teamed up with Trump allies in a series of lawsuits against the Biden administration and unsuccessfully sued to overturn election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Paxton was indicted on securities fraud charges six years ago during his first months in office, and has more recently been the subject of an FBI investigation over allegations by some of his former deputies that he abused his office to aid a wealthy donor. He has denied wrongdoing in both cases.
Gohmert’s attempt to appeal to the former president’s supporters was complicated by Trump’s endorsement of Paxton before Gohmert launched his campaign in November.
Gohmert also struggled to distinguish himself from the other high-profile Republicans in the race, such as Bush and former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman. Both also promised to use the position to advance Trump’s agenda on issues including immigration and alleged voter fraud, and argued that Paxton might be weakened enough to lose to a Democrat in December.
A member of the House Freedom Caucus, Gohmert, 69, was first elected in 2004 to represent a sprawling stretch of eastern Texas that includes his hometown of Tyler.
A former judge, he was known for his frequent speeches on the House floor dubbed “Gohmert hour,” and consistently ranked among the top lawmakers in speaking time logged on the floor. His appearances are most often in the form of “special order” speeches that come after legislative business is done for the day.
When House operations went largely virtual in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gohmert took his speeches online and launched a podcast called “Special Order with Louie Gohmert.”