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AUSTIN, Texas – Facing multiple primary challengers from the right as he runs for re-election, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas is showing off his conservative credentials.
“We are not going to allow these big-government socialists to destroy the state of Texas,” Abbott recently declared on the campaign trail as he bids for a third four-year term steering the nation’s second-most populous and largest state.
And taking aim at President Biden and his administration over the combustible issue of border security, Abbott emphasized to supporters at a burger joint in San Antonio two weeks ago that “the great state of Texas will step up and do the government’s job… Texas is now building our own border wall.”
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Abbott’s also showcased his conservative record on abortion restrictions, crime, election integrity and other issues that along with border security are top of mind with GOP voters. And the governor’s reminded primary voters that he’s backed by former President Trump as he crisscrossed the state on an extensive campaign swing that wrapped up Monday evening in San Antonio, on the eve of the Texas primary.
The governor’s facing a field of seven Republican challengers, including former Texas GOP chair Allen West, a former congressman from Florida, former state Sen. Don Huffines, and conservative commentator Chad Prather.
As Fox News first reported last month, border security was front and center in the governor’s closing primary campaign TV commercial.
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“Gov. Abbott deployed the National Guard to assist law enforcement at the border. He’s given us new authority to arrest trespassers and has increased jail capacity to handle criminal arrests. Joe Biden should be securing this border, but he won’t,” Sheriff Ray Del Bosque of Zapata County, which sits along the U.S.-Mexico border south of Laredo, says in the ad.
“That’s why Gov. Abbott is getting the job done,” Sheriff Bill Waybourn of Tarrant County, which includes Fort Worth, emphasizes at the end of the spot.
The governor’s praised Operation Lone Star, the effort he launched early last year amid a surge of undocumented migrants at the nation’s southern border to increase apprehensions of alleged criminals and seizure of illegal drugs.
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But there’s been criticism of the mission from both Democrats and Republicans amid reports of suicides, poor working conditions, mismanagement and pay issues among the Texas National Guard troops sent to the border as part of the effort. And West and Huffines have repeatedly blasted Abbott over his border mission as they take aim at the conservative governor from the right.
Besides border security, the governor’s GOP challengers have questioned Abbott’s conservative credentials on other key issues. Among them, they’ve targeted the governor over his statewide mask mandate as the coronavirus pandemic swept the nation two years ago – although Abbott was one of the first governors to drop the restrictions. And they’ve argued the governor’s not been forceful enough in outlawing gender-affirming care for transgender children.
But most polling suggests Abbott with a large lead over his challengers and in the driver’s seat to top 50% of the primary vote and avoid a runoff.
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That would set him up November against all-but-certain Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke. The former congressman from El Paso – who came close to ousting Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 Senate election before unsuccessfully running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination — faces nominal opposition in the Democratic primary.
Longtime Texas-based Republican strategist Brendan Steinhauser noted that “Abbott’s massive war chest, high name ID, and high approval ratings will make it difficult” for his rivals “to pull off the upset win.”
And veteran Texas-based GOP consultant Matt Mackowiak said that Abbott “hasn’t had to play any defense. He’s done everything right, and he’s kept his focus on Beto, and the fact that he’s been able to do that should tell you a lot about where that primary race is.”
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Abbott campaign general consultant David Carney sees the primary race as “a dress rehearsal for November’s general election.”
And Carney told Fox News that the governor’s “running full speed ahead to try to jack turnout on primary day…. It’s that simple. It’s just straight-up turn out the vote.”
Source URL: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/texas-gov-abbott-border-security-trump-support-primary-challenges