Despite a series of challenges, including a near collapse of the state’s electric grid during February’s winter storm, and ongoing friction with some Texas voters over his handling of the pandemic, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appears strong heading into the 2022 gubernatorial race.
Renuka Rayasam, a Texas-based reporter for Politico, says at this point, Abbott “is Teflon,” and is unlikely to be unseated by a challenger.
His success comes from his ability to convince supporters that no one else would be better at the job. He does have two Republican challengers in the upcoming gubernatorial race: Allen West and Don Huffines. But Rayasam says voters don’t believe either could have handled the grid failure, or other crises, any better.
Plus, Abbott is skilled at drawing attention away from those challengers. Both are more conservative than Abbott, but Abbott has begun to champion issues that appeal to more conservative voters to “suck the oxygen out of his far-right competition.” Rayasam says his commitment to continue building a wall at the southern border and passing a law allowing the permitless carrying of guns are examples of that.
“Gov. Abbott has a way of spinning some of these really sort of far-right priorities, these priorities that, you know, maybe a majority of Texans may not agree with. He has a way of sort of spinning them and making them seem moderate and reasonable,” Rayasam said.
Abbott also has a lot of money for his reelection campaign, which will make it tough for his Republican challengers to compete. Only Democrat Beto O’Rourke has the fundraising ability to compete, but he has not yet said if he plans to run. Plus, Raysam says O’Rourke would have added challenge of convincing Texas voters that he’s a better alternative to Abbott, in a state that is still majority Republican.
“Abbott will paint Beto O’Rourke as too far-[left] and out of touch for Texas if he does run. And so he has to be prepared for that,” she said.