Greg Abbott Could Be a 2016 Kingmaker — But He May Not Want to Be

by Jim Geraghty

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

Greg Abbott Could Be a 2016 Kingmaker — But He May Not Want to Be

Texas governor Greg Abbott met with some of NR’s Washington staff yesterday, and discussed what he’s hoping to see in the GOP presidential nominee.

He said he doesn’t know if he’ll endorse before the Texas primary. Part of me would be surprised if he did. In Washington yesterday, Abbott said he had met with Senators Ted Cruz and Jon Cornyn, along with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. Of course, Abbott’s predecessor, Rick Perry, is almost certain to launch a bid in the near future. Perry and Abbott worked closely as governor and attorney general for about 14 years, and while they occasionally disagreed, the two men think well of each other. And of course, the Bush family is still quite well-regarded, connected, and influential in Texas; both President Bushes have their presidential libraries in Texas, and George P. Bush, Jeb’s son, is currently commissioner of the Texas Land Office.

In short, by endorsing one, Abbott would do some damage to his relationship with the other two; the media both nationally and in Texas would interpret an endorsement of one as a slap in the face of the other two. If Cruz doesn’t win the presidency, he’s likely to be a senator from Texas for a very, very long time, and George P. Bush is likely to be a significant player in Texas politics for just as long or even longer.

As our Joel Gehrke laid out, Texas offers about 10 percent of all of the delegates needed to win the nomination. It costs $1.5 million a week to buy television ads in every media market in the state, and the allocation of the delegates is . . . complicated:

Seventy percent of the 155 delegates will be allocated based on the March 1 election results, following a winner-take-all by congressional district formula: If a candidate fails to earn more than 50 percent of the votes in a given congressional district, the delegates will be divided two-to-one between the first-place and second-place finishers. The remaining 30 percent will be awarded by a caucus at the state convention in May.

For the local candidates Cruz and Perry, the Texas primary is like “playing the Game of Thrones”: you either win or you die (metaphorically). An Abbott endorsement of one candidate could be seen as an insurmountable setback for the other.

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