While sitting down with Greg Abbott at Vitek’s, surrounded by Texas memorabilia, I can easily see why he is well on the way to be the next governor of Texas.
Abbott understands the legitimate need of the party to become a “big tent” and appeal to other groups.
“I bring a complete different style and perception that will connect differently with the changing Texas that we live in,” Abbott said.
His wife, Cecilia, would be the first Latina first lady of the state of Texas, and Abbott is uniquely qualified to understand the “genuine connection between the Hispanic community and the conservative philosophy.”
That would be a huge asset to the Republican Party of Texas. Facing semi-strong opposition for the first time in recent history, the party is trying to fight the growing Battleground Texas movement. With a growing Hispanic population, the Democrats, led by Wendy Davis, believe they can “turn Texas blue” within two decades.
But Abbott, rightfully, isn’t worried. The fundamental principle of the Battleground Texas movement misses the mark. He correctly understands that the problem is not with conservative ideas — it’s the messaging.
“All we need to do is do a better job of communicating that the Republican Party stands for conservative values that are really embraced by an overwhelming majority of the Hispanic community,” Abbott said.
He cites an example from the last state Republican Party convention, when the “hardcore of the hardcore of the Republican Party” voted over two-thirds for “the most progressive guest-worker provision of any state.” If Republicans could only frame their message better, he argues, they’ll be better prepared to appeal to the Hispanic community.
When Abbott believes in something, he doesn’t let anything get in his way.
He was tragically paralyzed by a falling tree in 1984, but he doesn’t let his wheelchair hinder his dedication.
In fact, he argues that it provides him with a unique opportunity to understand the concerns of those with disabilities. It is this perseverance that defines his approach to controversial political issues.
Take voter-ID laws, for example. It is Abbott who has taken the leading role as attorney general of Texas. The Supreme Court has already ruled that voter-ID laws are “perfectly constitutional,” says Abbott. He has prosecuted many cases of votes cast by dead people or foreign nationals.
Abbott’s legal experience uniquely qualifies him to deal with these issues. After short periods in private practice, as a state trial judge, and serving on the Texas Supreme Court, he is currently the longest-serving attorney general in Texas history.
But he doesn’t come off as a hardline conservative. When Abbott speaks to you, you feel as if he isn’t fishing for talking points or strategizing about his next line. He has an uncanny ability to sincerely connect with voters while maintaining the strong conservative principles he advocates.
Wendy Davis, on the other hand, is “on the extreme wing, contrary to the mainstream Texans,” Abbott said.
He’s right. Her filibuster of the state’s new abortion law identifies her with a position shared by a minority of Texas voters.
Abbott should not have trouble winning the election. Texas should look forward to an inspirational governor that will bring the state to greater heights while understanding the importance of each and every viewpoint.
Danny Huizinga is a junior Business Fellow from Chicago. He is a guest columnist for The Lariat. Follow him @HuizingaDanny on Twitter.