It seems Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, while seeking a third term in 2022, is also seeking national attention as the second coming of Donald Trump.
The former president endorsed Abbott for reelection June 1.
“Greg Abbott is a fighter and a great governor for the incredible people of Texas,” Trump said in a written statement, praising Abbott’s record on issues including border security and gun rights.
“Gov. Greg Abbott will continue to be a great leader for the Lone Star State, and has my complete and total endorsement for reelection,” Trump’s statement said. “He will never let you down!”
So far, Abbott has done everything he can to curry favor with the 45th president — and the people who believe Trump actually beat Democrat Joe Biden last year.
Abbott has yet to add a huge golden forelock, or ride a golden escalator down to announce for president. But there’s still time for that.
Meantime, consider some of the Trump-to-Abbott handoffs:
Warning of illegal immigrants flooding in from Mexico? Check.
Building a “great, great wall” on the border? Check.
Mexico will pay for it? Uhhh, well, maybe Texas instead, starting at $250 million. Plus, maybe some crowdfunding to help pay the rest.
But the state money may come from redirecting federal dollars allocated for expenses from the COVID-19 pandemic — a proposal roundly criticized by congressional Democrats.
Dissing as a war hero the since-deceased former five-year POW-turned-United States Sen. John McCain — because he was captured? Uhhh, don’t ask.
Abbott has re-energized Trump’s call for a border wall, even bringing Trump to the border June 30 to underline that work on it had ceased since Democrat Joe Biden replaced him in the Oval Office.
Democrats charge that Abbott’s invite to Trump was just to wrap himself in Trump’s coattails, and to change the subject.
Abbott wants to shift voters’ attention from state problems that Democrats say should be priorities.
Chief among them is fixing the state’s electrical power grid, that failed in the February Big Freeze that killed about 700 people, and recently was in danger of crashing during a summer heat wave.
Vicente Gonzalez, a Democratic congressman whose border district includes McAllen, said “Wasting taxpayer dollars to promote the construction of a border wall, instead of correcting the failed power grid, is bad leadership that is further putting Texans’ lives at risk.”
During their visit to the border, Abbott called the former president “a great friend of mine,” and said securing the border was “a job that you did, but a job the Biden Administration is completely failing us on.”
Had the Democrats not dropped the project, the wall could have been completed “in a couple months,” Trump insisted. “We were just about finished.”
Abbott’s hard turn to the right is due to his effort to pick up Trump’s mantle in the 2024 presidential sweepstakes, and in the interim, to get through the 2022 GOP primary.
For whatever it’s worth, Abbott’s desire to gain national publicity seems to be working — aided considerably by Democrats in the Texas House walking out to break a quorum to kill his bill to make voting more difficult. It made network news — and probably will be the centerpiece for Abbott’s July 8 special session.
If Abbott is worried about facing a Democrat in 2022 in Red State Texas, he has yet to show it.
In the Republican primary, former State Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, several weeks ago announced his candidacy — to the right of Abbott.
And just recently, former Texas GOP chairman Allen West, a former one-term congressman from Florida, has announced he’s running for governor.
West in 2020 mounted a vigorous campaign to be the Texas GOP chairman, and a huge fundraising effort — including a large contribution from a right-wing sugar daddy in Illinois, who kicked in a quarter-million dollars — to take advantage of the light attendance around the Republican State Convention.
A scrambled last-minute switch from the planned in-person meeting to a pandemic-driven virtual one helped West, a former Army lieutenant colonel, unseat the incumbent, James Dickey.
Following his victory as GOP chairman, West continued his criticism of Abbott as governor — including participating in a protest outside the governor’s mansion.
A handful of others, including Blaze TV talk show host Chad Prather, have indicated interest in entering the GOP gubernatorial primary.
On the Democratic side, there have been rumblings that former El Paso congressman Beto O’Rourke, who lost a close challenge to Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, and who has since maintained a grassroots organization called “Powered By People,” may run.
And actor Matthew McConaughey has also hinted at running, though he has yet to indicate whether he would run as a Democrat or Independent — if at all.