Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott has been touted as a possible GOP contender in the 2024 presidential primary race since 2020, despite his close ties with former President Donald Trump. On everything from COVID restrictions to securing the southern border, Abbott has pivoted to an America First platform and improved his support within the party and among Texas voters as a result.
A 2024 run, however, could disrupt his relationship with the former president – who is rumored to be preparing another run for the White House – and confuse voters who back them both.
Greg Abbott: “We’ll See What Happens”
Abbott addressed the rumors in an interview in 2020, telling KXAN News that he wouldn’t rule out a potential run.
“You know, one thing that you know about me, I take one step at a time,” Abbott said. “The first step is to win re-election and after that, Mark, we’ll see what happens.”
While Abbott has said little about it since the Texas governor was among a select list of potential Republican contenders for the 2024 nomination who were invited to a meeting in Florida in January by the Republican National Committee.
Abbott joined Texas Senator Ted Cruz and two dozen other high-profile Republicans considered to be possible 2024 candidates at the annual RNC winter meeting, according to a report by Politico. It was believed to be an attempt by McDaniel to assure potential candidates that the RNC will open up the race to candidates other than former President Donald Trump.
Abbott Owes Trump
Should Abbott decide to run, it may come at a cost. He will also need to consider the fact that the former president’s endorsement of his 2022 re-election campaign helped him hold back some high-profile challengers.
Before Trump’s endorsement, Abbott was at real risk of losing the party’s nomination – and some voters haven’t forgotten.
When Abbott took the stage at former President Trump’s Save America rally in Texas in January, he was greeted by a round of boos from Trump supporters. Among the heckles that were captured on video were “You’re a RINO!” and “Abbott sucks.”
Greg Abbott getting booed when introduced at the Trump rally last night. pic.twitter.com/TWvjkMyJTh
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) January 30, 2022
“Greg Abbott is a fighter and a Great Governor for the incredible people of Texas,” Trump said in a statement issued by his Save America PAC.
“Governor Greg Abbott will continue to be a great leader for the Lone Star State and has my Complete and Total Endorsement for re-election. He will never let you down!”
Without that endorsement, Abbott may have faced a more difficult re-election campaign, with several other GOP populists running to take the party’s nomination. In January, former Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West, running to take the nomination from Abbott, debated alongside fellow candidates Chad Prather and Don Huffines.
Trump’s coveted endorsement, along with Abbott’s promise to build a border wall in Texas using state resources, represents a lurch towards Trumpism that could well see Abbott elected for another four years – but will he break that trust and run against Trump in 2024?
Like every other prospective Republican presidential candidate, Abbott must not only present a positive vision for the country and the party, but he must do so without stepping on Trump’s toes.
As it stands, the former president’s support among GOP primary voters is over 50% in most polls. Unless Trump does something to lose that support between now and 2024, Abbott and others must simultaneously pave their own way while also paying homage to the former president. Fail to do that and Abbott won’t just lose in a hypothetical 2024 campaign, but he’ll also lose the support of Trump voters in any other future campaigns.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and report on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.