If Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott runs for governor in the Republican primary next year — possibly facing incumbent Rick Perry — Abbott will have a big head start in campaign cash.
The latest fundraising figures came out on Tuesday. Abbott already had a lead over Perry, but now it's even bigger.
Since they can't accept donations again until June after the 83rd Legislative Session ends, this gives Abbott an advantage.
In fundraising reports due Tuesday, Perry, the state's longest-serving governor, raised about $3.5 million from July to December and has just more than $6 million in the bank.
But Abbott outpaced Perry, raising $4.1 million. He now has a whopping $18 million in cash.
That's a 3-to-1 advantage over Perry for a possible March 2014 primary race. A source who has talked to donors told WFAA last week that's what Abbott said he'll do.
Ross Ramsey, executive editor of the Texas Tribune, has covered state politics for years. "You know, the big advantage is that if you've raised your money, you can spend your time on other things in your campaign," he explained. "You can spend your time on organization, on networking, on telling people what your message is — on all of the campaigning stuff, and not on the phone raising money. The other guy has to be raising money, and that eats up the clock."
Ramsey noted that Perry and Abbott share many of the same prominent donors, and the unanswered question is: Who will those donors back if both intend to run?
For now, Perry and Abbott aren't talking politics, with both saying they'll announce their intentions this summer.
"Gov. Perry is proud and appreciative of the broad and generous support from Texans across the state,” said Texans for Rick Perry spokeswoman Catherine Frazier. “He looks forward to working with lawmakers this session to implement a budget that lives within our means, keeps taxes low, and maintains the policies of fiscal conservatism that have made Texas a national leader in job creation and opportunity. These priorities, along with his commitment to upholding robust infrastructure and education programs, will keep Texas strong in the years to come, providing people the freedom and opportunity to thrive.”
Eric Bearse, a spokesman for Abbott's campaign, was similarly noncommital. “The Attorney General is focused on protecting taxpayers and enforcing the laws of Texas, and is grateful to all his supporters who have made his service possible,” he said.