Texas Republican Greg Abbott Formally Announces He's Running For Governor

Daniel Doherty

7/15/2013 3:30:00 PM - Daniel Doherty

No less than six executive offices are soon-to-be up for grabs in the Lone Star State, according to Fox News Latino, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is running for the most coveted one.

His campaign officially launched on Sunday:

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a fierce social conservative, formally kicked off his 2014 campaign for governor.

It was a long-expected move, as Abbott had in previous campaigns mulled running but many political observers said he was not sure about taking on popular Rick Perry.

In a rally held Sunday in San Antonio, he said he wants to succeed Gov. Rick Perry, who announced last week he won't seek a fourth term.

Abbott has already raised nearly $23 million.

Abbott has held office since 2002 and is popular among mainstream Republicans and tea party activists. Abbott has also sued the federal government on Texas' behalf 27 times during the Obama administration.

The only other announced candidate from either party is ex-state Republican Party chairman Tom Pauken.

No Democratic candidate has emerged, though some have urged state Sen. Wendy Davis to run. She gained notoriety for her 12-plus-hour filibuster over sweeping new abortion limits during the Legislature's first special session.

Even if Wendy Davis does run (and obviously the abortion-on-demand crowd desperately wants her to), the chances of her winning are exceedingly slim, according to one political analyst:

Abbott enters the race a clear front-runner, according to Mark P. Jones, a political analyst at Rice University. He has $23 million in his campaign war chest, and raised $4.78 million in the month of June, the largest amount ever raised for a statewide candidate in the 30 days after the end of the legislative session.

"Greg Abbott is a stronger candidate against any Democrat than Rick Perry would have been, because he doesn't have the baggage that Rick Perry had," Jones said. "The chances of any Democrat winning against Greg Abbott are less than zero."

That assessment might be a bit hyperbolic, but the fact is that Texans have not elected a Democratic governor since 1990 -- the last time the executive's seat was open. Barring a political earthquake, the winner of the GOP gubernatorial primary is almost certainly favored to win the general election. And of course, with a talent for huge political fundraising and an indomitable spirit, Abbott will be a tough candidate to beat:

Twenty-nine years ago, Abbott back's was broken when he was hit by a tree while he was jogging as a young lawyer in Houston. Abbott lost the use of his legs.

During Sunday's announcement, Abbott said that incident taught him "the meaning of the word perseverance."

"Doctors then inserted two steel rods up and down my vertebrae that will remain in my back from the rest of my life," Abbott told the crowd. "Some politicians talk about having a spine of steel," he joked, "I actually have one."

Voters head to the polls on November 4, 2014.