Two days after the Texas primaries, Gov. Greg Abbott is putting an emphasis on the races where his endorsement went to winning candidates, looking past the two high-profile contests where his support could not get primary challengers across the finish line.
After a contentious 2017 at the Capitol, Abbott took the unusual step of backing primary opponents to three incumbents in his own party: Republican state Reps. Sarah Davis of West University Place, Wayne Faircloth of Galveston and Lyle Larson of San Antonio. Only Faircloth's challenger, Mayes Middleton, was victorious in Tuesday's primary.
Speaking with reporters in Austin on Thursday, Abbott pointed to the "broader picture" of his involvement in the primaries, noting he weighed in on 27 races for the Texas Legislature and his candidates won in 25 of those contests. Those 25 candidates included incumbents who were both opposed and unopposed Tuesday, as well as a few open-seat hopefuls.
Still, Abbott did not campaign as aggressively for most of those 25 candidates as he did on behalf of Susanna Dokupil and Chris Fails — Davis' and Larson's challengers, respectively. Abbott took a particularly intense interest in unseating Davis, spending close to a quarter million dollars on the race, which Dokupil lost by 12 percentage points.
As returns came in Tuesday night, Abbott pushed a message of unity in a Facebook Live broadcast — and he pressed it again Thursday while speaking with reporters after accepting Site Selection Magazine's Governor's Cup Award during a ceremony outside the Governor's Mansion.
"Now that the primary’s over, I think it’s very important that the Republican Party come together as one and work together all the way through the November to make sure that we win the elections in November," Abbott said.
Asked if he was open to endorsing primary challengers again in the future based on his experience Tuesday, Abbott did not rule it out.
"In future elections, of course those decisions will be made in the future," Abbott said. "Put it this way: This will not be the last of my involvement in ongoing races, whether they be in November or years in the future."
Abbott himself is on the ballot this year, and he easily won his party's nomination Tuesday with more votes than any other statewide official. Given all that, a reporter asked Thursday if Abbott would promise to serve a full term if re-elected and not seek higher office.
"Yes," Abbott replied.
Any thoughts about higher office?
"No," Abbott said, pausing briefly. "Is there a higher office than governor of the state of Texas?"