“I take one step at a time and the first step is to win reelection, but then after that we’ll see what happens,” Abbott told Davis.
Abbott is a prolific fundraiser and has nearly $38 million cash on hand after raising $7.6 million in the first half of this year without being on the ballot. Those funds are not transferable to a run for federal office, but serve as evidence of his fundraising prowess.
Should he jump in a few years from now, Abbott would likely not be the only Texan in the race. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) finished second to now-President Donald Trump in the 2016 GOP primary and is rumored to try his hand again. Between now and then, other Texans may emerge as candidates for the nation’s top executive.
Abbott served as the state’s attorney general from 2002 to 2015 after he won the 2014 gubernatorial race. Before then, he was a Texas Supreme Court justice.
In the interview, Abbott further emphasized the drastic gains Republicans made in the Rio Grande Valley this year, calling it “the new battleground in the State of Texas.” Four years after a sound defeat to which Republicans had become accustomed in that region, the Democrats’ margins of victory in many of those counties shrunk substantially.
Abbott attributed these gains to the roaring pre-coronavirus economy during which Texas set historically low unemployment rates.
Furthermore, Abbott added his intention to push the Texas legislature toward cracking down on mail ballot fraud. “There’s no question mail ballots pose a possibility of fraud, and we’re seeing that play out,” he stated, specifically mentioning the prevention of dead individuals’ identities used to cast fraudulent votes.
In the last three months, the Office of the Attorney General has exposed three different instances of fraud — all of which involved mail ballots to some degree. “There’s distrust in the election outcomes because there’s distrust in the way elections were handled.”
Earlier this week, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick offered up to $1 million in cash reward for voter fraud tips that lead to convictions.
The issue has ascended to national attention in light of the presidential race and allegations made therein. And the data shows this kind of fraud exists, especially regarding mail ballots, but most often occurs at a local level and impacts races with small margins.
Asked about the state of coronavirus in Texas and potential executive orders addressing the pandemic, Abbott told Davis, “The way to handle this spike is the way we handled it in July, for everyone to follow the best practices.”
Abbott then said that beginning next week Texas will begin distributing therapeutic drugs such as Regeneron’s REGN-COV2, which the president took during his bout with coronavirus. He also touted the vaccines that will be available “later this month.”
The governor did say, unequivocally, “We are not going to have any more lockdowns in the State of Texas.”
“This is the ninth inning of our challenge with COVID,” he added.
Currently, counties are permitted to open their businesses almost entirely, bars included, provided their respective hospital region’s coronavirus patient makeup is less than 15 percent. County judges are able to overrule that protocol and keep their community more strictly closed, something various big-city officials have done.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.