Governor Abbott Officially Launches Re-Election Campaign

Governor Abbott Officially Launches Re-Election Campaign
Governor Greg Abbott. | Image by Joel Marinez, The Monitor via AP

Texas Governor Greg Abbott officially launched his re-election campaign with a speech on Saturday in the border town of McAllen. 

Abbott is seeking a third term as governor, with his campaign promising that he will appear at sixty events before the March 1 primary. 

During the approximate half-hour speech near the border, Abbott said the reason he was running was to “keep Texas on the right course.” The topics he touched on included education, law enforcement, and taxes. 

The Governor did not address issues that caused controversy during his term, like his responses to the coronavirus pandemic and the power-grid failure during February’s winter storm. Abbott also avoided mentioning Beto O’Rourke, the favorite to win the democratic nomination for governor, but did make broad claims against Democrats. 

“We cannot let big-government liberals redesign our state with the progressive agenda that is destroying some parts of America,” Abbott said. “We need a proven winner who will fight to secure the future of Texas. That is why today I am in the Rio Grande Valley to officially announce my reelection.”

Abbott sought to contrast himself with Democrats by touting the permitless carry law that passed under his leadership. 

“While some have threatened to come and take your guns, I signed more than 20 laws to protect your Second Amendment rights, including making Texas a ‘constitutional carry’ state,” Abbott said.

The governor made the speech as part of his campaign’s Hispanic Leadership Summit. Abbott has made clear that a goal for his campaign is to win the Hispanic vote. According to exit polls, Abbott received 44% and 42% of the Hispanic vote in his last two successful campaigns. 

Abbott criticized President Biden for not doing enough to address border security. The governor claimed that Texas, under his leadership, “responded with the strongest border security effort by any state ever in the history of the United States of America.”

The response includes the construction of a border wall that started last month and the deployment of thousands of National Guard Soldiers to the border.

That deployment of National Guard troops has received criticism, including from Allen West, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and Republican challenger to Abbott in the March primary. In a press conference in Richardson last week, West said he learned of the issues from guardsmen who had reached out to him about delayed pay, supply shortages, and exposure to COVID-19. 

West also mentioned a December report by the Army Times about four soldiers assigned to Abbott’s border operation that have committed suicide since November.

“This falls squarely on the shoulders of the person that ordered the commencement of Operation Lone Star, and that’s you, Gov. Abbott,” West said.

Along with West, Abbott’s challengers in the Republican primary include Wise County attorney Paul Belew, North Texas business owner Danny Harrison, Houston-area resident Kandy Kaye Horn, former state senator Don Huffines, Springtown computer engineer Rick Perry (not the former governor), and talk show host Chad Prather.

Facing a crowded field of Republican challengers, Abbott spoke on the conservative supported measures implemented in the past year with his support. Including anti-abortion laws, preventing government officials from closing churches during emergencies, and providing protections for businesses that continued operation during the pandemic.

He also spoke about what he would do during a third term. He made a specific promise to pass a “bill of rights” that will provide property tax relief and ensure parents have a say in their children’s public school education. 

“Parents are losing a voice when it comes to their children’s education and even their health care,” Abbott said. “Many parents feel powerless to be able to do anything about it. That must end.”

Abbott’s focus on parental rights is significant, given that it was a top issue in last year’s Virginia governor’s race where Republican Glenn Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

The voter registration deadline for the March 1 primary is January 31. The early voting period will start on February 14 and end on February 25.

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