Abbott in strong position for reelection campaign for Texas Governor

The Republican Governors Association certainly has its hands full in the upcoming election cycle. Counting the off-year elections this November and the 2018 midterms, 38 gubernatorial seats are up for grabs – 27 of those seats are currently held by Republicans. GOP governors will be mostly playing defense while Democrats will try to use the gubernatorial races as a stepping stone to rebuilding their party.

But there is one Republican governor who has nothing to sweat about.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has amassed a nearly $41 million campaign war chest – a record setting number. Even for the behemoth Lone Star State, this is a jaw-dropping amount. The governor raised $10 million in the last 12 days of June alone. While promising to keep Texas in conservative hands, Abbott officially announced his intention to seek re-election Friday in San Antonio.

The state’s top executive apparently has no real competition in sight. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the only possible candidate to mount a formidable primary challenge, has repeatedly denied any interest in doing so. The lieutenant governor instead has opted to run for re-election. As for a general election, no serious Democrats have stepped up to the plate. Jeffrey Payne, a small business owner in Dallas, threw his hat in the ring and pledged to loan his campaign $2.5 million. However, Payne comes with zero political experience and is in a same-sex marriage – something that likely won’t help with the traditional voters of Texas.

Another daunting fact to consider as liberals look to recruit candidates across the state: Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to any statewide office since 1994.

With no real threat facing him at the ballot box, Abbott is directing his campaign’s mammoth infrastructure towards his legislative agenda. A special session in Austin is fast underway and the governor has an ambitious 20-item agenda he plans to push through. Abbott is making it well known that lawmakers who support his bills will get a hand up during election time – and those who oppose his legislative agenda will come to regret it. Major agenda items include a $1,000 pay raise for teachers, property tax reform and a contentious “bathroom bill” that has national progressives fuming.
The biggest obstacle to Abbott's agenda is the entrenched education establishment which is fighting against school choice and education vouchers for students in failing schools.  They really fear competition and are organizing teachers to oppose the Governor's agenda on education.

House Speaker Joe Strauss has sided with the school boards and supervisors over the students.  The Governor and Lt. Governor have countered with a teacher pay raise package that would require the schools to move money from administrators to teachers.  That is the political fight to watch in the special session this summer.

I think Gov. Abbott has the better argument, but getting the legislation passed a hostile committee and Strauss will be the biggest challenge.


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