AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The race for the Texas Attorney General is getting closer than expected. Republican incumbent Ken Paxton is leading his opponent, Rochelle Garza, by two percentage points, according to a new UT Tyler poll.
This could be huge for Democrats. The poll surveyed more than 1,384 registered voters.
“What this says is Ken Paxton is definitely beatable in the fall,” said Brian Smith, a St. Edward’s University political science professor.
Poll results showed 34% of respondents said they prefer defending Paxton, while 32% said they’d choose Garza, a civil rights attorney.
“You’re not going to be able to swing Democrats to the Paxton side or Republicans to the Democratic side,” Smith said. “So, what happens here is all about turnout.
A Democrat hasn’t won a statewide office in Texas since 1994. Garza said she thinks the state is ready for new leadership.
“This is the race to win for Democrats,” Garza said. “This is the best opportunity that we have to win statewide … Texans are ready for change. They don’t like the fact that he [Paxton] is under indictment, that he is corrupt.”
However, the success of a campaign often comes down to money, and Paxton has a lot more than Garza.
“A lot of the money isn’t going into the AG race,” Smith said.
Garza outraised Paxton in the first quarter, though. She said she just wants to keep her focus on the people.
“We’re talking about everyday folks that are concerned about their families, are concerned about the economy, their jobs,” Garza said.
Smith said there are several voters from the recent poll who are supporting third parties — meaning that could shift the race in the end.
“For both candidates, there’s plenty of room to turn this into a landslide,” Smith said.
We reached out for an interview with Paxton but didn’t hear back in time for this story.
Paxton already has more than $3 million in funding while Garza has about $450,000.
Former President Donald Trump is hosting a fundraiser for Paxton in New Jersey in early September.