Texas

Did Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s inaugural address mean that the political future would stay at home?

Austin. A decade ago, the last Texas governor to run for president began a new term by hiding his ambitions for the White House.

But Rick Perry released a new book, toured the country, and stormed into that year’s legislature, quickly declaring a ban on sanctuary cities and restrictions on government condemnation of private land as emergency measures. Most players in Austin believed that Perry was running for president. He announced almost seven months later.

On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott gave little indication that he was doing the same. The Republican governor in his third term has not stated his ambitions other than trying to have a successful session. Abbott’s aides do not approve of rumors that he will start traveling to states with presidential primaries to test the waters – at least not during the time of the Legislative Assembly. The session just launched ends May 29th.

Abbott brought up some of the themes that other prominent red state governors have taken up in recent weeks. Later that year, at least in theory, he could combine them into a presidential candidate’s presentation—tax cuts, parental rights when it comes to public schools, tougher crime-fighting, and the closure of the US-Mexico border.

But there was nothing Abbott said in Austin on Tuesday that was even remotely as attractive as this line spoken by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Tallahassee two weeks earlier:

“We will never give in to an awakened mob,” said DeSantis, a conservative darling who is expected to seek the Republican presidential nomination next year. “Florida is a place where people wake up to die.”

And while Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, in his inaugural address Thursday, highlighted “kitchen table issues” similar to those Abbott emphasized, Kemp selectively raises his profile. He accepted an invitation to speak with six other US politicians on Tuesday at a World Economic Forum panel in Davos, Switzerland. He recently created a federal PAC, though that could be a Senate nomination in 2026 and a presidential run in 2028, not next year.

It’s possible that Abbott will be able to organize a national campaign later this year, as Perry did after the 2011 legislative session. Some former Perry advisers have lamented that Perry’s late launch, which he announced in Charleston, South Carolina on August 13, 2011, thwarted this ill-fated venture. Perry said his wife Anita encouraged him to run even though he was happy to remain as governor of Texas.

However, Abbott could just as easily have stayed on as governor and decided to step down and make money four years later, current and former Abbott partners say. never tried. Perry served 14 years as governor, serving the last part of George W. Bush’s second term after Bush became president. Perry won three full terms on his own.

No water testing – yet

Abbott’s chief political strategist Dave Carney on Monday asked if Abbott was going to test the waters and visit the first primary states to assess interest in his possible presidential candidacy. He said that Abbott’s top priority right now is a successful legislative session.

“You know, he always said that when the session is over, he will look at the situation and see if his voice, his experience is needed to enter the fight,” Carney said. “But until then, we’re not going to New Hampshire or Iowa or South Carolina — or whatever you’d like to do if you’re blindly ambitious.”

On Tuesday, marking the opening of the term, Abbott boasted of Texas’ record revenue surplus of nearly $33 billion.

As in his two previous inaugural addresses, he spoke poetically—and at length—about the Texas economy and population growth. He noted that if Texas were a separate country, as it once was, the state’s gross domestic product would be the 9th largest in the world.

“The gas you put in your truck, the jeans you wear, the steak you eat for dinner, it’s all made in Texas,” Abbott said. Regarding Texas’ rapid population growth, he added:

“The Americans are showing that Davy Crockett’s words ring true today: ‘You can all go to hell. I’m going to Texas!”

When Perry was about to run for president in 2011, he wished the public coffers were this clean. However, it faced a $30 billion revenue shortfall. It was a blow to the budget caused by the Great Recession of 2008, when the pain of Texas was put off by former President Barack Obama’s federal stimulus money for the states. Tax hikes aside, Perry had no choice but to join GOP lawmakers in passing a spending-cutting budget.

Abbott has the luxury of offering significant property tax cuts, as well as possibly a one-time “investment”. The state could continue to strengthen the power grid, as well as continue to protect schools from mass shootings, a project the Legislature began in 2019, a year after the Galveston County Santa Fe school shootings.

“To ensure that our rapidly growing state can meet the needs of our future, we must work this session to strengthen our infrastructure, including the roads we drive, the water we use at home and in the fields, and the ports we We use to ship products around the world,” said Abbott.

In step with the governors

In Florida and Georgia, DeSantis and Kemp recently jubilated in their inaugural surplus speeches. Like Abbott, both have pledged to put some of the money into tax breaks. Like Abbott, they repeated the now-familiar GOP mantra of parental rights and the shameful “indoctrination” of schoolchildren by the liberal elite.

This helped Republican Glenn Youngkin regain the Virginia governorship from the Democrats in 2021, and Youngkin could join the next year’s GOP presidential election, as could Republican governors. Christy Noem of South Dakota, Bill Lee of Tennessee and the more moderate Chris Sununu of New Hampshire and Larry Hogan of Maryland. Former President Donald Trump has already announced another attempt to run for the White House.

“We need to keep this in mind, our schools are for teaching, not educating,” he said. “Schools should not promote social programs.”

Abbott did not congratulate himself on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, as DeSantis did when praising the Free State of Florida.

Abbott also did not position himself as a flyover candidate for America, away from Washington, DC, as Kemp did.

“The governor of your state should be much more concerned about safe streets, good schools, and good jobs than what pundits say on cable television,” the Georgia governor said.

Although today’s politics are polarized, Abbott ignored a recent shot from an ambitious Democrat at him and other Republican governors who have used state dollars to send illegal migrants to Democratic-dominated cities over the past year.

“Red state politicians and the media empire behind them are passing off regression for progress, oppression for freedom… kidnapping migrants,” California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom said in his second-term inaugural address.

Abbott stayed on safe rhetorical ground, connecting his themes, running line after line through “Texas our Texas,” the national song.

According to Abbott, the 1924 song, written by a Fort Worth immigrant and a British man, “is an anthem. A hymn glorifying the exclusivity of our state. We work every day to live up to this excellence.”

It’s unclear if Abbott will start teaching the tune to non-Texans later this year and next.

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