Evan Smith, CEO of The Texas Tribune.

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In the latest episode of our podcast about the Texas Legislature, Evan Smith talks to Land Commissioner George P. Bush about the state of the state and the issues in play as the 2021 session winds down — and about his rumored plans to challenge Ken Paxton in the 2022 GOP primary for Texas attorney general.

Here are some highlights:

  • Bush confirmed that he has a June 2 campaign kick-off planned, but was somewhat coy about what office he’ll be running for in 2022: “I have shared with the public I am taking a very serious look at a run for attorney general but I also wanted to provide deference to those in the legislative halls of this session and make that announcement after they have completed their work.” The legislative session ends May 31.
  • He said he does not believe that the 2020 presidential election was stolen, even though former President Donald Trump has falsely claimed that it was: “I think there was fraud and irregularity, I just don’t think it was in a sum that would have overturned the election result.”
  • He said he would not support legislation in the Texas Legislature that would reduce the governor’s power during a pandemic. Overall, he said, Gov. Greg Abbott did a good job responding to the crisis. In leadership, you will always be critiqued, he said, but “in the final analysis, when you look at the data in terms of everything from vaccine penetration to businesses reopening to schools being back online, our state is looking really good.”
  • He said the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was a “disappointing day.” But he said he would continue to support Trump and back him if he ran for president in 2024.
  • He said there are some small things he would tweak about the office of attorney general, but the problem is not with the message Paxton delivers, “it’s the messenger.” He noted that Paxton is indicted on charges of securities fraud, and his office is currently under investigation by the FBI after former top aides accused him of bribery. “I mean I don’t care what party you are in,” he said, “that is just disgraceful.”

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