Perry Out, But Texas Governor’s Race Still Likely Republican Win
As James Joyner noted earlier today, Rick Perry, who has held the Texas Governor’s Office since George W. Bush resigned in late December 2000 to become President, will not be running for re-election. Despite this, though, Stuart Rothenberg notes that his successor is almost guaranteed to be another Republican. The most likely Republican nominee at this point appears to be Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott:
Abbott has been laying the groundwork for a gubernatorial run for some time. He has built a huge war chest, is well-connected in in Texas GOP circles, and is close to Perry.
In other words, Abbott has had all the ingredients to assume the title of gubernatorial favorite for some time. All except one — the assurance that Perry would not run again. Abbott wouldn’t challenge Perry, the governor said earlier this year. But with the governor now out of the picture, Abbott can move ahead along a pretty unobstructed path.
Which other Republicans might be able to give Abbott a run for his money?
“No one. The field clears,” said Bill Miller, a longtime Texas Republican strategist and lobbyist.
Abbott released a statement Monday from his official office praising Perry. He made no mention of the governor’s race, but he is widely expected to jump into the race.
On the Democratic side, things are much less settled. What’s clear is that Abbott would begin the general election as a heavy favorite against whoever Democrats end up nominating. And that will likely prompt Democrats’ best prospects to sit out 2014 with an eye on the future.
“This makes it less likely a serious Democrat will run,” said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones.
That said, there are some names worth watching. One is Wendy Davis, the Democratic state senator whose marathon filibuster against a Perry-backed bill to tighten abortion restrictions catapulted her onto the national scene last month. A Davis-Abbott matchup would be striking because of their deep differences over abortion.
The other buzzy Democratic name in Texas is San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who is seen as a potential future gubernatorial candidate. But Castro, who burst onto the national radar with a well-received keynote address at last year’s Democratic National Convention, is still young. And he is seen more as a prospect for 2018 or beyond, as Democrats are hopeful that demographic trends will boost their political standing in the Lone Star State in the coming years.
There’s frequent talk of Texas becoming a “purple” state in the future thanks to demographic changes and, while that may happen someday, it’s not going to happen in 2014. Absent something completely unforeseen, this seat will be a rather easy Republican hold.