Attorney General Greg Abbott is saying little about his plans to run for governor- even though he became the perceived front-runner in next year’s campaign when Gov. Rick Perry said Monday he won’t seek a fourth term.
Monday night on the capitol steps Attorney General Greg Abbott stuck to the event script as he spoke to thousands of right-to life activists. He told them he’s ready to go to court to defend new abortion restrictions set to go before the Texas House Tuesday.
“When Planned Parenthood was defunded we defended that in court and we won,” Abbot said. “When these laws are passed and challenged in court I’ll be right back there in court and we will win again and protect life in the great state of Texas.”
Some Republicans have all but anointed Abbott as Rick Perry’s successor in the governor’s office. He’s popular among the party’s most conservative voters and has already accumulated an $18 million war chest.
But Abbott wasn’t talking about if and when he’s announcing a gubernatorial campaign. He said it was Perry’s day.
“He’s been such a powerful voice to elevate Texas to the premier position in the entire country,” Abbot said. “For creating jobs, for creating pro growth for creating a pro family environment.”
Hours earlier in San Antonio, Texas’ longest serving governor told a crowd of long time staffers and supporters, its time for him to pass the mantel of leadership when his term ends next year
“Today I am announcing I will not seek reelection as governor of Texas. I will spend the next 18 months working to create more jobs opportunity innovation. I will actively lead this great state,” said Perry.
And after that? Perry would only say he’s going to pray and reflect on his path.
But some of those who know him best feel sure Perry’s considering another run for the White House in 2016.
Kathy Walt was Perry’s press secretary and communications director.
for 12 years.
“Having worked for him as long as I did he’s going to give it a lot of serious thought,” Walt says. "He’s going to talk with his wife about it because running for President is not a one person decision.”
Perry’s former chief of staff Ray Sullivan who worked in the last presidential campaign which cratered seemed more certain Perry’s gearing up for a national campaign.
“He’s learned a lot form the last campaign and I think one of the lessons is get in early, prepare early, lay the groundwork early and you’re much more likely to be successful,” says Sullivan. “I think it’s fair to say he’s interested I don’t think he’s lost the spark that lead him to the campaign the last time.”
As if setting the stage -laying the groundwork -Perry ticked off a list of accomplishments as governor:
- The creation of a million and a half Texas jobs in the past decade
- No major tax hikes under his watch
- Assisting Katrina victims who fled their flood ravaged state
- Greater restrictions on abortion
That’s an issue that continues to roil the capitol as Perry finishes out his term and he and Abbott leave Texans guessing about what comes next.