Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican congressman who downplayed the January 6 Capitol Hill insurrection, announced Monday that he’s running for Texas attorney general, the state’s top law enforcement official.
Gohmert’s entrance into the race means Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican who has held the position since 2015 and is running for reelection, will face another high-profile challenge from a member of his party. Already, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman have announced bids in the race.
Paxton secured former President Donald Trump’s endorsement in July.
Gohmert, who previously served as both a judge and lawyer in Texas, has served as a member of the House since 2005, a tenure that has seen the conservative Republican wade into a number of controversies.
Earlier this year, he made headlines when he delivered a lengthy diatribe on the House floor in which he downplayed the US Capitol insurrection, falsely claiming that there is “no evidence” that the insurrectionists were armed. During the speech he also pushed unfounded allegations against the FBI and the Justice Department for “unfairly” going after Trump supporters in their investigation into the insurrection.
“Where is the outrage about young people being unfairly treated? … Joe Biden’s Justice Department is criminalizing political protest,” Gohmert claimed, despite the well-documented and violent takeover of the Capitol that occurred on January 6.
Several days before the riot, a federal court dismissed an appeal from Gohmert in his lawsuit to force then-Vice President Mike Pence to interfere in the Electoral College vote count, the process that was later interrupted by the rioters.
The suit was part of the desperate and extraordinary GOP attempt to overturn the presidential election using baseless and unproven allegations of mass voter fraud and charging that multiple states that Joe Biden won illegally changed their voting rules due to the pandemic.
Gohmert, 68, also drew recent attention for frequently refusing to wear a mask during the coronavirus pandemic, and in July 2020, he tested positive for the virus. The development caused concern on Capitol Hill, with several lawmakers at the time saying they planned to self-quarantine in response to Gohmert’s diagnosis.
And in June, Gohmert was ridiculed on Twitter after he asked a government official during a Natural Resources subcommittee hearing if the National Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management could change the orbits of the moon and Earth, making a comment that some saw as an attempt to argue that climate change should be viewed as a natural phenomenon rather than man-made.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Tuesday.
CNN’s Brian Rokus contributed to this report.