Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today made it official...he told a cheering crowd at La Villita this afternoon that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor of Texas.
"When it comes to our freedom and our future, I will never, never stop fighting," Abbott told several hundred cheering supporters at an outdoor rally on a steamy July afternoon. "Just as I have been a voice for liberty and the Constitution, I will be a voice for you, for children, parents, homeowners, and small business owners."
Supporters fanned themselves with yellow cardboard fans distributed by the campaign which were emblazoned with the message "fast cars, firearms, and freedom, it's a Texas thing." Many wore yellow T-shirts featuring the campaign symbol, a snake wound around the letter 'A' under the words, 'Don't Tread on Me.'
Abbott has filed 27 separate federal lawsuits challenging Obama Administration policies ranging from gun rights to health care to EPA mandates. He cited his legal activism as a qualification for the job of governor.
"The very day the President signed Obamacare into law, I took him to court to protect our constitutional rights," Abbott said. "I know the Constitution; I have enforced the Constitution, suing an overreaching federal government."
Among the endorsements for Abbott read at the campaign rally is one from Freshman Texas Senator Ted Cruz. The Tea Party favorite served as Abbott's Solicitor General, an appointed position, before being elected to the Senate last year.
"Abbott is a leader in the fight for liberty and for the Constitution," Cruz said in the statement read to the cheering crowd.
Abbott begins this race as the clear front-runner, according to Mark P. Jones, a political analyst at Rice University. He has $23 million in his campaign account, and recently announced he raised $4.78 million in the month of June, the largest amount ever raised for a statewide candidate in the thirty days after the end of the Legislative Session, when campaign contributions are not allowed.
"Greg Abbott is a stronger candidate against any Democrat than Rick Perry would have been, because he doesn't have the baggage that Rick Perry had," Jones said. "The chances of any Democrat winning against Greg Abbott are less than zero."
No Democratic candidate has surfaced in next year's election. No Democrat has been elected Governor of Texas since George W. Bush defeated Democratic Governor Ann Richards in 1994, which was also the last year that any Democrat was elected to statewide executive office. Pro choice champion, State Senator Wendy Davis has said she is considering a run.
Another Republican, former Reagan Administration staffer and ex Texas Republican Party Chairman Tom Pauken.
Abbott brings an unusual life story to the campaign. His back was broken when he was hit by a tree while he was jogging as a young lawyer in Houston 29 years ago today. Abbott permanently lost the use of his legs, and will campaign for Governor, as he has campaigned for Attorney General, from a wheelchair.
During today's announcement, Abbott said that incident taught him "the meaning of the word 'perseverance.'
"Doctors then inserted two steel rods up and down my vertebrae that will remain in my back from the rest of my life," Abbott told the crowd, and then joked, "some politicians talk about having a spine of steel, I actually have one."
Texas and national Democrats wasted no time pouncing on Abbott's announcement, calling the Texas 'out of touch.'
"Greg Abbott's entrance into the race for Governor of Texas is another step backward for a national Republican Party trying to gain relevance outside of its narrow, right-wing base," the Democratic National Committee said in a statement. "Abbott fits right in the ranks of Republican Governors pushing agenda that have alienated voters and cost Republicans the election in 2012."