Garcia: ‘The adult in the room’ – About Your Online Magazine


A year ago, if someone had asked you who holds the record for the most votes ever collected in a Texas election, what name would have come to mind?

No, none of the above.

The correct answer would have been Eva Guzman, who received nearly 4.9 million votes in her successful 2016 re-election candidacy for the Texas Supreme Court.

Guzman’s record was broken in the 2020 high turnout general election, but the fact that she held the mark until last November speaks to a quirk in our electoral system.

Texas elects its Supreme Court justices in statewide party elections, but even when we are voting in these court disputes, candidate names are barely registered for most of us.

Court candidates do not engage in standard forms of political campaigning and cannot run for policies they wish to see implemented. As a result, no matter how many millions of votes they get, they will inevitably have very little name recognition.

On Monday, Guzman sent a letter to Governor Abbott, informing him that she will leave the bank from Friday afternoon.

Although Guzman has not disclosed the reason for the resignation, the lingering word in Texas political circles is that she is preparing to enter the 2022 Republican primaries for attorney general.

Convincing personal narrative

By teaming up with perpetually indicted incumbent Ken Paxton and his adversary, Land Commissioner George P. Bush, Guzman would create a rare scenario where three candidates with multiple state election victories under their belts were competing in the same primary.

A run for attorney general would be quite a transition for Guzman, who won his court seat in 2009 by nomination for governor and subsequently sailed to two easy election victories.

Aside from Abbott and US Senator John Cornyn – who managed to move from the Texas Supreme Court to the Attorney General’s office – there isn’t much evidence that the court is an effective starting point in this state.

Guzman, however, is not a typical member of the judiciary. She is a charismatic communicator with a warm, engaging manner and an unusually engaging personal narrative.

One of seven children born to Mexican immigrants who never made it through elementary school, she grew up in Houston’s East End and graduated from the same college (the University of Houston) where her mother worked as a janitor.

In 2010, she became the first Latina elected to state office in Texas. During her tenure on the state’s highest civil court, she established herself as an advocate for victims of child abuse and domestic violence. She has also earned the respect of her colleagues, including Supreme Court President Nathan Hecht, who praised her this week as a “nationally recognized champion of the rule of law and justice for all.”

the adult in the room

Matt Mackowiak, a Republican consultant who serves as chairman of the Travis County Republican Party, said Guzman would enter the attorney general’s race with unique advantages and disadvantages.

“She’s obviously a Latina with a Latin last name, and I really think that’s an advantage,” said Mackowiak. “I know this goes against some perceptions people have about the Republican primary constituency, but in this case it’s a distinguishing factor for her.

“It’s going to give her the opportunity to conquer geographic regions of the state – like San Antonio, like South Texas, like El Paso – that might give her a path to at least run a runoff.”

On the downside, Mackowiak said: “There’s really not much evidence that she’ll be able to raise $5, 10, 15 million dollars to give her a chance to win that. If she’s not in a position to be on television, at least except on cable, in Dallas and Houston, there’s no way. So for me, that’s the biggest question mark.”

Paxton and Bush could inadvertently help their cause. They will almost certainly throw verbal hay at each other and vie for the position of most loyal candidate to former President Donald Trump.

Guzman, by setting a more positive tone, could mark a place as the adult in the room.

‘A constitutional conservative’

In late March, Guzman gave something of a dress rehearsal with a keynote address at the Hidalgo County Republican Party’s Lincoln Reagan dinner.

She praised her husband, a retired Houston police officer, and defended law enforcement against criticism from social justice advocates.

She deplored partisan divisions in our country but also went for an obvious line of applause, saying Democrats take the Latino vote for granted.

She didn’t mention Trump. She alluded to her successor, Joe Biden, only to suggest that the current government refuses to admit that we have a migrant crisis at the border.

“I defend America’s constitution,” she said. “I am a constitutional conservative.”

Very soon, she could also be a highly intriguing candidate for Texas attorney general.

ggarcia@express-news.net | Twitter: @gilgamesh470

Paula Fonseca