East Texas Republican leaders on Tuesday said longtime U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert has the experience to be an effective attorney general for the state, while Democrats are uninterested in having the congressman in Austin.

Gohmert, R-Tyler, on Monday night announced his plans to joined a crowded race challenging Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a video on YouTube. Gohmert had been exploring a run earlier this month and said if he raised $1 million by Nov. 19 he would kick off his campaign.

Smith County Republican Party Chairman David Stein said he’s glad to have candidates, including Gohmert, involved in the process.

“He’s smart. He knows exactly what he’s getting into. He’s qualified to do the job, and he definitely has a passion for why he wants to run for the office,” Stein said.

Stein noted Gohmert’s background in the military, as an attorney, district court judge and 12th Court of Appeals justice.

Gohmert was elected to three terms as a district judge in Smith County and later Gov. Rick Perry appointed him to complete a term as the chief justice of the 12th Court of Appeals.

“Ken Paxton, for the most part from what I understand, has done a good job as attorney general, but there are areas certainly where Congressman Gohmert could certainly be an asset,” Stein said. “There are concerns over the underlying legal issues and how much validity they have is at this point is above my pay grade.”

Stein said securing the election, enforcing the law and challenging federal laws are key objectives for someone serving as attorney general.

For this election season, Stein encouraged voters to not let Facebook be their major source for information and to do their own research, such as reviewing court records from Gohmert’s time as a judge.

Gregg County Republican Party Chairman Brian Bowden said he supports Gohmert’s decision and that competition is always good.

“It brings out the right candidate, and he’s obviously extremely experienced and would do a good job as well,” Bowden said.

He noted Gohmert’s legal experience and his passion to fight for the Constitution in Congress.

“He’s one of the most outspoken congressmen, and we’re super proud of him as our congressman,” Bowden said. “I think he’s overly qualified to be attorney general for Texas. He would do a great job.”

Smith County Democratic Party Chairman Michael Tolbert said local Democrats are happy to see Gohmert will leave Congress.

“It’s one step forward and who knows where else it’s going. His actions, I think, speak for themselves,” Tolbert said.

When it comes to Gohmert versus Paxton, Tolbert said, “We hope that neither one of them has anything to do with representing the people of the state of Texas ever again.”

He added Paxton needs to be incarcerated regarding allegations of corruption against him.

According to Gregg County Democratic Party Chairman Philip M. Burns Sr., Gohmert is “not good for the state” whether it’s attorney general or Congress. He said Gohmert doesn’t communicate with his constituents.

“If you want to approach him, he’s not available. That’s one of the main things and you name me one of the things he has done for Texas,” Burns said. “I don’t see one thing he has done for Texas.”

The only benefit of Gohmert running for attorney general is he will get out of Congress, according to Burns.

Former Gohmert congressional staff member Aditya “A.D.” Atholi on Tuesday remained the lone candidate to have formally filed to run to represent Northeast Texas in Washington D.C.

Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran this past week expressed interest in the seat. State Rep. Matt Schaefer and state Sen. Bryan Hughes have announced plans to run for reelection in their respective roles.

 
 

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I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.