Texas civil rights Lee Merritt announced last week that he’s running against incumbent Republican Ken Paxton for Texas attorney general.
I’m Lee Merritt, a civil rights attorney and community organizer.
I’m running against Ken Paxton to be the next Attorney General of Texas.
— Lee Merritt (@MerrittForTexas) July 13, 2021
Merritt, known nationally for his work in the civil rights and anti-police brutality movements, will run for attorney general in the Democratic primary, where he’ll be opposed by former Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski, also a lawyer.
“Texas Republicans have launched an all-out assault on voter rights and civil liberties,” Merritt said in a prepared statement. “General Paxton, Governor Abbott, and the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature are blatantly attempting to turn back progress in the Lone Star State using the familiar tactics of voter suppression, divisive rhetoric, and corporate money.
Merritt said Texans deserve statewide leaders that put their interest first.
“We are fighting for an executive branch in Texas that serves the needs of all its citizens and not just the elite,” he said in the statement. “It’s our turn.”
Making his first run for statewide office, Merritt faces an uphill battle. A Texas Democrat hasn’t won a statewide since former Attorney General Dan Morales was reelected in 1994. And before challenging Paxton or another Republican nominee, he must beat Jaworski, who has been campaigning for the post much longer.
Merritt hopes to capture the energy generated by progressives and new entrants into the political arena during the summer of 2020 when the fight against police brutality and for social equality reached another level.
If elected, he would be the first Black attorney general in the history of Texas.
His news release stated his campaign would push a litany of issues.
Our campaign will also focus on fixing Texas’ failing power grid, reigning in soaring property taxes, ending mass incarceration, and challenging gubernatorial overreach,” the news release stated.
Merritt, who moved to North Texas about six years ago, is a prominent civil rights lawyer who has worked heavily on issues related to police brutality.
Among many other high-profile situations, he’s represented the family of Atatiana Jefferson, the Fort Worth woman who in 2019 was killed by a Fort Worth police officer in her home. Former Fort Worth police Officer Aaron Dean was indicted for her murder and is expected to stand trial this year.
Merritt has also represented alleged victims of R. Kelly, Charlottesville white supremacists, and police brutality.