Midterm elections: Rochelle Garza faces Ken Paxton in Texas AG race

We are less than a month away from the midterm elections, and the Texas attorney general seat is in play. Incumbent Republican Ken Paxton is facing challenger Rochelle Garza. 

Travis County Democratic Party Executive Director Cynthia Van Maanen and Travis County Chair of the Republican Party Matt Mackowiak join FOX 7 Austin's Mike Warren to discuss.

MIKE: Matt, starting with you, is Ken Paxton at all vulnerable to an upset here?

MATT: Well, if you just based on the public polling, he's been polling, let's say three or four points roughly below where the governor is. The governor has generally been in a 5 to 7 point range in terms of his lead. Some cases a little higher than that in the last 60 days. So just on that basis alone, that is up 5 to 7. And Paxton is two, three, four points below that. Then it is in a range where it could go in either direction. That said, I do think Attorney General Paxton has some advantages. He has a financial advantage over his opponent and more to the point, he has an advantage in terms of the job he's been doing, reflecting the values of this state, fighting the Biden administration on its overreach. Standing up for border enforcement. Standing up for our oil and gas industry. Standing up for our values. And I think in the end, those things are going to carry him through. He's been a good attorney general. He deserves reelection. Rachelle Garza is a pretty extreme person, not equipped to be our attorney general and I think is well, well, well outside the mainstream of the Texas electorate.

MIKE: Cynthia talking about Rochelle Garza as a candidate. Is she the best candidate for the job to go against Paxton, and what does she have going for in this race?

CYNTHIA: I think Rochelle's a fantastic candidate. Rochelle has been fighting for vulnerable, vulnerable people her entire career. And so I think it's pretty clear that when she is attorney general, she will put Texans first. I know that she is running an excellent campaign. I personally knocked on doors with her here in Travis County. She is getting out there and putting in the work. And we've got an entire state of Democrats behind her. And she's going to win over those independents, too, especially those who are not yet decided in those polls.

MIKE: Matt Mackowiak, Ken Paxton recently has been involved in an FBI investigation about misleading Texans, abusing the abuse of office allegations. And even before that, all through his career as attorney general, there's always been some sort of controversy going on with him. Is this going to have any kind of effect in his reelection chances? 

MATT: Well, the FBI thing you reference, he hasn't been charged with anything. And that thing's been hanging out there for more than a year. So obviously, you never know what the future can hold. But I don't believe, based on what I know, that there's any real there as it relates to that. Now, on the initial problem he had with secure with the securities fraud allegations that have been an over prosecution from the beginning, I think has been, I think three or four years in the system. So I recognize it's an unusual situation of an attorney general facing these kinds of legal challenges. And he has to answer for them. He has to explain them. He's done that to some extent. He can do a better job probably on that. At the end of the day, that's not really the question. The question is which attorney general is going to fight protections? Who is going to reflect our values? The American Civil Liberties Union does not reflect the values of a majority of Texans, and that is Rochelle Garza's primary professional credential. She has been a left wing lawyer for a left wing organization throughout her career, and that's what she'll do if she's attorney general. Should be suing Governor Abbott. She will not be fighting the Biden administration over the next two years. And I think that we will see a massive change in the way that office is run in terms of both values and policy if she's elected.

MIKE: Cynthia, last word for you. Can advancing pro-choice rights, abortion issues help Democrats get some of these candidates over the line? 

CYNTHIA: I think it absolutely can't. Abortion is the top issue for so many voters in this cycle. It is. If you look at any poll and really just talk to anybody on the street, you will find out that abortion is the top issue. You will find out that the majority of Texans disagree with Ken Paxton and Greg Abbott on abortion, and they do not want a total ban that has no exceptions for rape and incest. I think that that is motivating a lot of people as of I think it was about a month ago. I believe that after. Dobbs we had after the overturning of Roe v Wade, we had registered over hundreds of thousands of voters, particularly young voters. And that's not even counting the last month. I know thousands and thousands have been registered recently.

MIKE: Very good. Well, in less than a month, we're going to find out. We have to wrap it up for now. Cynthia, Matt, thank you both very much.