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Pledging ‘actual Republican leadership,’ Huffines to challenge governor in GOP primary

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Despite having a large campaign war chest, Gov. Greg Abbott has drawn opposition for a third term from within his own party over criticism that he was too slow in reopening   the state during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former Texas state Sen. Don Huffines, also a Republican, said he is challenging Abbott in 2022.

“Together we will finish the wall, lower our taxes and protect our elections,” Huffines said on Twitter. “It’s past time to root out corruption in the Austin swamp. Leadership. No excuses.”

Huffines is a businessman who served a single term the Texas Senate before losing in 2018. For the past year, he has been criticizing Abbott’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fox 4 in Dallas reported.

Huffines said Abbott was too slow to reopen the state and spoke last fall at a protest outside the Governor’s Mansion, the Texas Tribune reported.

“Texas deserves actual Republican leadership that will act urgently and decisively — no more excuses or lies,” Huffines said.

Abbott could potentially face other GOP opponents in his bid for a third term, including Texas GOP chairman Allen West and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, the story said. At the end of 2020, Abbott had a campaign war chest of nearly $38 million.

He also had a very high approval rating among Republications voters at 77%  in the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll, the story said.

In 2014 and 2018, Abbott did not face major opposition in the primaries, receiving more than 90% of the vote in each race.

In the state Senate, Huffines represented District 16 in northern Dallas County. He defeated state Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas) in the primary, criticizing him as too moderate. But then Huffines lost the seat after one term to a Democrat, Nathan Johnson, by 8% in 2018.

Huffines is the brother of James Huffines, whom Abbott chose to chair the  Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas last spring, the Tribune reported.

The filing deadline for the 2022 governor’s race is Dec. 13.

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