Abbott wins Texas GOP governor nomination

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday coasted to victory in the Republican gubernatorial primary, fending off a handful of contenders running to his right and teeing up a general election fight against former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) in November.

The race was called by The Associated Press shortly after 8 p.m. local time, with Abbott garnering nearly 70 percent of the vote with more than 40 percent of ballots tallied.

Among the more prominent primary rivals Abbott defeated were former state Sen. Don Huffines, former Florida congressman and ex-chairman of the Texas GOP Allen West, and conservative commentator Chad Prather.

Abbott has racked up a staunchly conservative record during his two terms but has faced accusations that he lacked sufficient Republican bona fides. Opponents contended he was too slow in reopening the state during the coronavirus pandemic and could have taken more stringent action at the southern border.

Regardless, Abbott has leaned into GOP culture war issues, backing a sprawling overhaul to the state's election laws in the aftermath of former President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of fraud in 2020 and pushing for a ban on abortions after six weeks. He also forbade private employers from enforcing vaccine mandates and signed legislation allowing Texans to carry handguns without a permit.

Abbott ran with former President Trump’s support, a powerful rebuttal to claims he was insufficiently conservative, while also winning the backing of the Republican establishment. 

Huffines conceded to Abbott on Tuesday evening but said he "forced" the governor to tackle culture war issues such as immigration and vaccine mandates.

The governor has been rumored to be considering a 2024 presidential run, though it’s not clear if he would wage a campaign if Trump were to run for the White House.

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