The relationship between politicians and business in Central Texas is a complex one. Politicians rely on the support of wealthy businessmen to fund their campaigns, while businesses benefit from friendly policies enacted by the politicians they support. This symbiotic relationship has been a part of American politics for decades, and it is no different in Texas. Governor Greg Abbott is a prime example of this relationship, as he has received significant financial support from prominent businessmen such as Bob Rowling and Tilman Fertitta.
In return, these donors have been rewarded with access and appointments to state government positions. Abbott's predecessor, Rick Perry, was known for filling his administration with political supporters. One such supporter is Woody L. Hunt, a real estate developer who has used his influence with the governor to bring state resources to El Paso, such as the dental school named after him. Abbott's reliance on big donors has been evident in recent filings, and he has been able to stay in power in Texas due to his fortune in the campaign.
However, if Abbott or another Texas politician were to run for president, they would have to start from scratch as state candidates are prohibited from transferring money raised for federal campaigns. Abbott does not shy away from fundraising, a task that some politicians treat with exhaustion. He enjoys the competition and the measurable success that comes with it, and he seldom chooses not to participate in his call time - the period he budgets in his day to call donors. People who have worked for him say it's part of an audacity in the face of failure caused by the 1984 accident that paralyzed him from the waist down and left him tied to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. However, Abbott's fundraising can create perception problems. On May 24th, when a gunman killed 21 people at an elementary school in Uvalde, the governor learned of the tragedy while he was in Abilene evaluating the state's response to the wildfires.
He later flew from Abilene to Huntsville to attend a fundraiser, which some viewed as inappropriate given the circumstances. The judge ordered Fertitta and Rowling to be deposed instead of Abbott, arguing in the case documents that the two men owned other businesses in the state that were not subject to closure by order of Abbott, and that both were major financial donors to their campaigns. This shows how Abbott's wealth can help like-minded candidates who vote for them in primary and general elections and gain political control over different parts of the state. In addition to fundraising, Abbott has avoided some of the moves of other potential candidates for 2024 such as visiting Iowa and New Hampshire which vote early. However, he has joined them at some national conservative conferences, and his increase in donations from other states in recent years suggests a deliberate effort to build a more national base of support. Abbott's fundraising prowess combined with two decades of dominance by the Republican Party means he may be able to maintain power in Texas as long as he wants. His ability to attract donors has become a fundamental element of his political support, and it is clear that this relationship between politicians and business will continue to be an important factor in Central Texas politics.