Austin, Texas — Texas attorney general Greg Abbott is having a pretty good day. At 1 p.m. Central, Governor Rick Perry announced that he won’t run for a fourth term, leaving that spot open. And the general consensus in the statehouse is that it’s Abbott’s for the taking. The AG has been making inroads in conservative circles for years, and his bumper sticker is a variation of the Gadsden flag. According to a Texas Republican consultant, he’s also worked extensively for local Republican candidates, engendering goodwill and higher name ID.
Abbott has also used his position to burnish his conservative bona fides and draw significant national attention. He’s sued the Obama administration 25 times, according to the Austin American-Statesman, and he described his job thus at a Tea Party rally: “I go into the office, I sue the federal government, and I go home.”
Abbott targeted the federal government over the Voting Rights Act, challenging a provision that requires the Department of Justice to clear redistricting maps before they can be used. He also butted heads with the EPA, and he’s been an advocate for voter-ID laws.
He’s proven himself a formidable fundraiser, as I reported on in May. And at the moment, his only competition for the governorship is Tom Pauken, a Reagan White House alum and former chairman of the Texas Workforce Commission. Pauken didn’t endorse Perry’s presidential bid in 2012, and the consultant tells me that there’s residual animosity toward him for that in state GOP circles.
Besides Pauken, Abbott doesn’t have much competition.
“Nobody really wants to run against him,” the consultant says.