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Your three Republican candidates for Attorney General answered some important questions last Saturday afternoon in a forum held in UT-Tyler’s Ornelas Activity Center.

Questions ranged all over the spectrum of conservative concern, and were designed to determine underlying attitudes and overall stances on important issues: from when life begins, to defining important founding principles, to determining what needs to be done about cartel crime in the Dallas area.

And in predictable primary-season fashion, questions were all answered in a manner typical of catering to the Republican Party’s conservative base.

However, there’s more to be taken away from this event than merely the same “common-sense conservatism” voters are promised all too often.

Grassroots conservatives are more concerned with record than promises, it would seem. Despite showing up more than 30 minutes late and appearing somewhat anxious, Ken Paxton still won the straw poll for the forum.

And for all his confidence and effort in having sued the EPA seven times, Smitherman was never a legislator to possess a consistently conservative voting record as Paxton does.

However Rep. Dan Branch, whose legislative career beginning in 2003, does have a voting record to compare and has been consistently earmarked by the kind of go-with-the-flow conservatism – see: moderate – indicative of a friend of the establishment and a close ally of Speaker Straus.

Interestingly enough, Branch was also the only one who answered the question of whether or not he would be an ‘activist Attorney General’ with a definitive yes – citing the increasing role of countering the federal government inherent to the position of the top lawyer in the state, as well as the necessity of having someone willing to fight for conservative values.  And to his credit, he’s absolutely correct.

Whether or not voters can expect such leadership from the Straus-appointed chair of Higher Ed is speculative, and voters at the forum seemed to know it.

One without any prior knowledge would have likely expected Smitherman to have won the day; having actually sued the EPA seven times, and appearing at the forum confident and early with a willingness to stay late and continue answering questions.  However, Paxton has a consistently conservative voting record and one, it is safe to say, grassroots conservatives will place a good degree of stock in.