Rochelle Garza defeated Joe Jaworski in the May 24 Democratic Party primary runoff for Texas attorney general. Based on unofficial results, Garza received 63% of the vote to Jaworski’s 37%. In the March 1 primary, Garza received 43.0% of the vote and Jaworski received 19.7%. Both candidates advanced to a runoff because no candidate received more than 50% of the vote. Garza will face incumbent Ken Paxton (R) in the November 8 general election.
Garza originally announced she would run for Texas’ 34th Congressional District after Rep. Filemon Vela (D) announced he would not run for re-election in March 2021. After Texas enacted new congressional district maps in October 2021, Garza decided to run for attorney general instead. In an interview with The Texas Tribune, Garza said, “I don’t think running for office is an easy thing to do, period. I really feel the urgency to do something and I know that I have the experience, I have the temperament and I have the drive to do this and fight for Texans.”
Jaworski’s campaign website listed several top priorities, including supporting the Affordable Care Act, expanding Medicaid, leading a statewide effort to legalize recreational marijuana, and supporting the decision-making authority of local governments. “Local decision-making authority is under attack in state government these days and I can personally say that local government is the best government. So I think as attorney general, Texans can rest assured whether they live in Republican jurisdiction, Democratic jurisdiction or any independent-type jurisdiction, that local government will be a focus of my attorney general opinion.”
Three other candidates ran in the March 1 Democratic primary: civil rights attorney Lee Merritt finished third with 19.4%, Mike Fields was fourth with 12.3%, and S. T-Bone Raynor finished fifth with 5.5%. Merritt endorsed Garza on March 10, 2022.
Before the runoff, Texas Monthly’s Michael Hardy compared the two Democratic participants, saying, “the two candidates are a study in contrasts. Garza is a 37-year-old Brownsville native and daughter of two public school teachers who, as an ACLU staff attorney, successfully sued the Trump administration on behalf of a seventeen-year-old ICE detainee seeking an abortion. Her run for attorney general is her first political race. Jaworski, 60, is a third-generation trial lawyer and the grandson of Watergate special prosecutor Leon Jaworski. He is a seasoned politician, having served three terms on the Galveston City Council and one term as mayor.”
The attorney general is an executive office that serves as the chief legal advisor and chief law enforcement officer for the state government and is empowered to prosecute violations of state law, represent the state in legal disputes and issue legal advice to state agencies and the legislature. In most states, the attorney general has a substantial influence on a state’s approach to law enforcement.