If there’s one thing Attorney General Greg Abbott is good at, it’s accumulating money.
Fueling growing speculation of a bid for the Texas Governor’s Mansion, Attorney General Greg Abbott reported Tuesday he has amassed a campaign war chest of $18 million, three times the amount claimed by incumbent Gov. Rick Perry.
While both men publicly have stated they will not make a decision about their political futures until the Legislature ends in June, Abbott’s stunning fundraising success provided more grist for the Austin rumor mill that he will try to advance up the political ladder sooner, rather than later.
Abbott spokesman Eric Bearse declined to speculate how his boss would direct his campaign largesse.
“The attorney general is focused on protecting Texas taxpayers and enforcing the laws of Texas,” Bearse said. “He’s grateful to all his supporters who have made his service possible.”
Political observers were impressed with the hand shown by Abbott, who raised $4.1 million in the most recent reporting period.
“It’s hard to look at that number and not think he’s planning to run a race at the top of the ticket,” said Jim Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas. “This further fuels the intrigue of what each man will do.”
Austin political consultant Bill Miller agreed that Abbott’s prodigious fundraising signaled an interest in higher office. “He’s accumulating a lot of money with the intention of making a run for higher office,” though exactly when remains unknown, said Miller. “That’s how I read the dollar signs.”
You can see his report here. It should be noted that Rick Perry raised over $3.5 million, and David Dewhurst $3.3 million in the same reporting period, so as far as that goes Abbott wasn’t that far ahead of the pack. It’s just that Abbott has been sitting on millions for years, and it’s really started to pile up. He had $8.5 million in January of 2009, $9.2 million in January of 2011, right after his last election, and $12.0 million last January. One presumes he’s raising it for a reason, but who knows, maybe the reason is just that he likes having a ginormous amount of money at his command.
One thing you can’t say is that no one could ever use that much money. Looking back at 2010, Rick Perry spent $4.7 million (raising $7.1 million in the same time) in the last six months of 2009; $1.9 million through January 21, 2010; $8.8 million from January 22 through February 20; and $3.4 million after that through June 30, raising another $7 million in the process. That’s $18.8 million, technically over a year but really in nine months. So yeah, if Abbott intends to run for Governor and especially if he has to knock off Rick Perry to get there, I can’t really say he “needs” all that money but I feel confident in saying he’ll spend it. On a campaign to vigorously oppose out-of-control spending, of course, on which the irony will go completely unremarked.
Burka thinks Perry’s relatively small cash on hand number – only in this context could $6 million be a small number – is another sign he’s fixing to hang it up after this term ends. He doesn’t think Perry wants to risk his record of not losing an election. I get that, but I’m not so sure. How many elite athletes choose to retire while their skills are still sharp? Very few take that path – most continue to play long after it’s apparent to everyone else that they’re not the player they once were. That’s a hard thing to admit, and the same drive that made them what they are makes it difficult to see when it’s over. I think Perry thinks he can win, and frankly I’m not sure that he’s wrong. Be that as it may, I’m not sure he’s the type of person to graciously step aside and let someone else have what he’s had all to himself for the past decade. I think it will have to be taken from him. We’ll see.
Finally, in a bit of late-breaking news, Abbott apparently has enough money to troll the New York Times in search of alienated gun-obsessed New Yorkers. Speaking as someone who grew up in one of the Republican parts of New York (Staten Island), all I can say is that I honestly can’t think of anyone I knew back then who had a gun. It just wasn’t part of the culture. (Dad, if you’re reading this, please chime in with a comment.) I can’t speak to how things are now on the Island, and I can’t speak to how things are in upstate New York, but to the extent that my experience holds I daresay that Abbott – who I’m sure is quite ignorant of New York – will get less of a response than he might think. I’ll have to keep an eye on what my Facebook peeps from back east have to say about this.