Abbott, who has $55 million in his reelection war chest and holds a 73% approval rating among Republicans, is still facing several high-profile Republican foes who are challenging his conservative record related to coronavirus restrictions, NBC News reported Friday.
Former Florida congressman Allen West has joined former Texas state senator Don Huffines, conservative political commentator Chad Prather, and criminal defense attorney Paul Belew in the race to defeat Abbott and have brought Abbott’s initial coronavirus response to the forefront of the debate.
The challengers have hammered Abbott for closing down businesses and being receptive to facemask mandates at the beginning of the pandemic and have not forgiven him even though he was one of the first governors to fully open a state back up.
“I mean, you can’t give back something that you really had no right to take,” West said.
Huffines agreed, saying, “That would be like thanking a thief for bringing some of your stolen goods back.”
“When you play arsonist and firefighter, the hypocrisy bleeds through pretty fast,” Prather said.
“The media gives him a lot of credit because he uses a lot of conservative rhetoric,” Prather added. “But there’s a difference between saying and doing. And, you know, Ron DeSantis does. Kristi Noem does. And Greg Abbott, a politician who lives off his polls, is good at saying.”
Abbott allies appear unconcerned about the various challengers vying for Abbott’s job.
“They don’t have any money, they don’t have any fundraising ability,” John Wittman, Abbott’s former communications director, told NBC News. “They are all fighting over the same 10 to 12 percent of Republican primary voters.”
Dave Carney, Abbott’s political strategist, said the governor is “not worried at all” about his primary opponents.
“We’re really focused on the general election,” he added. “The primary is a great opportunity for us to do a dress rehearsal.”
Abbott earned the endorsement of former President Donald Trump over the summer.
“Greg Abbott is a fighter and a Great Governor for the incredible people of Texas,” Trump said in a statement. “No Governor has done more to secure the Border and keep our communities safe than Governor Abbott. Greg is a staunch defender of the Second Amendment and has made Texas a Second Amendment Sanctuary State. Texas has become a job-creating machine, and our partnership helped restore America’s economic power and success.”
Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.