Gov. Abbott's gubernatorial challengers step to forefront ahead of race

Tom Abrahams Image
Wednesday, July 7, 2021
Abbott's gubernatorial challengers step to forefront ahead of race
Abbott's gubernatorial challengers step to forefront ahead of race

AUSTIN, Texas (KTRK) -- Gov. Greg Abbott has attracted a lot of attention in the 2022 GOP Primary.

Abbott's two challengers, both of whom put property taxes and border security at the top of their agenda, are looking to oust the two-term Republican.

The first to jump in was Don Huffines. "I'm never asking permission from the federal government to secure Texas' border," he told ABC13. "I'm never going to do that. It's our border. We fought a war over this border. It's clearly defined. "

Joining Huffines was outgoing Texas Republican Party Chair, Allen West.

SEE ALSO: Allen West announces he is running against Gov. Greg Abbott in Republican primary

After much speculation and posturing, he's made it official. The Texas GOP chairman has launched his campaign.

"The border has to be the single biggest issue," West said. "Because, with the unsecure border that we have, it affects our safety and security."

Gov. Abbott is also all about the border. Promising, like Huffines, to have Texas build its own wall. As his challengers try to outflank him on the right, the Governor hosted former President Donald Trump at the border in Weslaco last week, sending a strong message about his conservative credentials.

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump visits TX to tour 'unfinished border wall' on U.S. Mexico border with Gov. Greg Abbott

WATCH: Former President Donald Trump met with Gov. Greg Abbott at the border Wednesday. Click play to see Tom Abraham's coverage of his visit.

"It was an honor to endorse you and strongly endorse you," former President Trump said at a roundtable event with law enforcement. "Highest and best endorsement."

Can either of the challengers be a real threat? Recent polling indicates neither is within striking distance just yet.

John Wittman, an Austin-based consultant and former top aide to the Governor, does not see either challenger as a real threat.

"The Governor has an 80 percent approval rating amongst Republican voters," Wittman said, citing a recent Dallas Morning News-UT Tyler poll. "Any candidate, any republican candidate would kill for those kind of numbers. I don't think it makes much of a dent. The Governor should have no issue in the primary."

ABC13 Political Analyst, Court Koenning, agreed the Governor likely wins the primary. But, it does make him a little more vulnerable heading into the general election.

"It's going to make the Governor have to expend money out of his war chest in the primary, in the pregame if you will, preseason or however you want to say it," Koenning said. "Before you get to the real race, which is the general election in November."

As for Democrats, none have officially announced a plan to run against the Governor.

SEE ALSO: Beto O'Rourke begins 'Democracy' tour seeking Texans' needs on voting rights

As lawmakers wait to see when a special session will be held for a strict voting bill, a familiar face is saying the laws are designed to suppress votes.

There is the possibility of Beto O'Rourke, who just finished his democracy and voting rights tour across the state, or the Dallas County Judge who has publicly feuded with Governor Abbott, Clay Jenkins.

And there is the wild card possibility of Oscar-winning actor and UT alum Matthew McConaughey who has mentioned an interest in the race.

SEE ALSO: Poll shows Matthew McConaughey highly favorable for governor against Gov. Abbott

That is a question that could only be posed if a rumored bid for the top seat in Texas government becomes reality.

Any or all of them would make an already growing field even more crowded.

Odus Evbagharu is the new Harris County Democratic Chair and he said all three Republican candidates are focused on the wrong issues.

"We've got to focus on the people of Texas," Evbagharu said. "Everyone is running to the right, and doing culture wars. We're not doing things to fix things that directly impact people's lives."

For more political news and updates on the gubernatorial race, follow Tom Abrahams on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.