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Abbott Seeks to Shape Republican Primary Conversation

Gov. Greg Abbott is planning to release a set of issues he would like Republican primary voters to prioritize next year.

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks with reporters before a speech Friday in Lubbock. Abbott said he plans to release a list of issues h…

LUBBOCK — Greg Abbott is planning to unveil a set of issues he would like Republican primary voters to prioritize next year, a move by the first-year governor to flex his political muscle during the most active season in Texas politics. 

"What I'm going to be doing beginning next month is rolling out issues that I think are essential for Republican voters to focus on during the primaries," Abbott told reporters before a speech here. 

Abbott has already highlighted one of those issues: cracking down on "sanctuary cities," or municipalities that do not enforce federal immigration laws. He declined to preview the other issues, telling reporters they will "have to tune in later." 

Speaking Friday at the biennial convention of the Texas Federation of Republican Women, Abbott called the fight against sanctuary cities the "next step" in Texas' efforts to secure the border in the absence of federal action. He recently warned Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez against defying federal immigration authorities, and on Wednesday, he informed other sheriffs they would lose state grant money if they similarly do not cooperate.

Abbott has brushed aside calls from conservative activists to hold a special session on the issue by stressing the need to elect more state lawmakers who support ending sanctuary cities. Despite early signs it could pass, a Senate bill banning sanctuary cities did not make it to the floor during the most recent legislative session. 

"One reason to come out with this issue now is to lay this down as a marker for all these candidates who are running in all these open seats," Abbott told KFYO host Chad Hasty last month. "This should be an expectation by the voters to hold these candidates accountable. These candidates need to agree to run on supporting my proposal to prohibit sanctuary cities in the state of Texas so that we will have enough votes to pass it in the next legislative session."

What remains to be seen is how involved Abbott will get in such elections. He did not directly respond Friday when asked if he planned to make endorsements in open-seat races where sanctuary cities is an issue. 

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