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Lee Merritt officially joins the AG race

We now have a contested Democratic primary for Attorney General.

Lee Merritt

Lee Merritt, the nationally known civil rights attorney, is officially running for Texas attorney general as a Democrat.

Merritt is set to launch his campaign at a 9 a.m. news conference outside the Texas Capitol in Austin, with an emphasis on the voting rights battle that prompted state House Democrats to flee the state Monday.

“Texas Republicans have launched an all-out assault on voter rights and civil liberties,” Merritt said in a statement, adding that incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton and other GOP leaders are “blatantly attempting to turn back progress in the Lone Star State using the familiar tactics of voter suppression, divisive rhetoric and corporate money.”

“This campaign is a response from the people of Texas,” Merritt said.

[…]

In addition to voting rights, Merritt’s camapign said it would focus on “fixing Texas’ failing power grid, reigning in soaring property taxes, ending mass incarceration and challenging gubernatorial overreach.”

Merritt joins Joe Jaworski, a Galveston lawyer and former mayor of the city, in the Democratic primary against Paxton. The incumbent has his own competitive primary, featuring challenges from Land Commissioner George P. Bush and Eva Guzman, a former justice on the Texas Supreme Court.

Merritt announced his intent to run in March, with a promise to make a formal announcement later. Joe Jaworski has been in the race for awhile, and of course there’s the Republican side of things. It will be interesting to see how Democratic interest groups line up for this one. I know Jaworski, I have not yet met Merritt, but he’s got a great resume and I’m eager to hear what he has to say. It’s good to have some contested primaries among good candidates on the Democratic side, as that will generate some much-needed attention. Good luck to Lee Merritt and Joe Jaworski, and may the best candidate win.

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2 Comments

  1. Thomas says:

    “It’s good to have some contested primaries among good candidates on the Democratic side, as that will generate some much-needed attention.”

    Yeah, and this has been a really underrated problem for Dems in recent cycles. While it’s possible for Dems to emerge with a weak candidate after a contested primary, in most instances it’s probably better for the nominee to get tested in the primary than not.

  2. Kibitzer says:

    I agree with Thomas that intra-party primary competition is desirable.

    That said, I am unable to verify that a person by the name of LEE MERRITT is licensed to practice law in Texas. There are numerous other attorneys that share same last name, but no Lee. The closest match is MR. LEE MERRITT ‘LEE’ SIMPSON, who is shown as “Non-Practicing” and “Retired” Bar Card Number: 18403500; TX License Date: 09/24/1973. The Lee Merritt in the photo above looks much younger.

    There are old news stories (paywalled) on the web to the effect that a civil rights attorney by the name Lee Merritt was previously sued (or had a complaint filed against him) for practicing law without a license in Texas, apparently without success.

    Assuming Mr. Lee Merritt, the candidate for Texas AG, only practices in federal courts, shouldn’t he at least explain himself?

    And wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect the chief attorney for the state of Texas to have practice experience in Texas state courts?

    State court cases surely account for the vast majority of the AG’s caseload, given that the OAG is the child support collection agency for Texas, sues former students on state student loans by the hundreds if not thousands, files state tax delinquency suits, and defends state officials in public employment and whistleblower cases in state courts.

    See: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/child-support/who-we-are/title-iv-d-and-child-support-texas