The state attorney general's race in Texas was already generating national attention. Incumbent Republican Ken Paxton is seeking a third term, despite the fact that he was already under indictment on felony securities fraud charges when members of his own team made multiple criminal allegations against him.
His leading primary rival is George P. Bush, who embarrassed himself trying to curry favor with Donald Trump, despite the former president's attacks against the Bush family, only to see Trump endorse Paxton anyway.
Yesterday, as NBC News reported, the contest became even more complicated.
Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert announced Monday that he is running for attorney general of Texas, throwing his hat in the ring for what's expected to be one of the most closely watched state races in 2022.
The news didn't come as a complete surprise: The Republican congressman recently said he'd run for the state office if campaign contributors sent him $1 million in 10 days. As the Texas Tribune noted, the 10th day was this past Friday, and Gohmert was supposed to appear on a Dallas radio show to announce his intentions.
That didn't happen, and the GOP lawmaker instead kicked off his campaign yesterday. (Raise your hand if you're thinking he didn't quite reach $1 million until the weekend.)
Time will tell, of course, who emerges from the crowded primary in Texas, but yesterday's news appears to carry a larger significance: Louie Gohmert, a ridiculous congressional fixture for the last 17 years, is apparently ready to exit Capitol Hill.
For those of us who've marveled at the Republican lawmaker's capacity for making utterly bonkers comments, this is no small development. Capitol Hill watchers have come to expect "Gohmert Hour" on a regular basis: The congressman is known for giving strange special-order speeches on the House floor after legislative business for the day has wrapped up, and those speeches have repeatedly featured Gohmert's often laughable ideas on a great many subjects.
As a result, the Texas Republican has earned an unfortunate reputation as one of Congress' least respected members. His greatest hits package is far too lengthy to reference here, but just off the top of my head, I'm reminded of the time he suggested addressing climate change by moving Earth's moon. And his fear of "terror babies." And the time he compared opponents of marriage equality to the victims of Nazi atrocities.
And his willingness to raise the prospect of violence in response to his conspiracy theories about Donald Trump's defeat.
For many years, a few far-right members of Congress were notorious for peddling absurdities. Lawmakers such as Minnesota's Michele Bachman, Iowa's Steve King, and Gohmert could always be counted on to say something outrageous, sparking headlines and fodder for late-night comedians.
As Gohmert eyes a new office, it's as if he's passing the torch to a new generation of outlandish members of Congress.