If so, what is it?
Brad Watson of WFAA-TV in Dallas made big news with his report of a potential deal between Perry and Abbott. From the station’s website:
In an exclusive WFAA interview Wednesday, [Jan. 31] Gov. Rick Perry said Attorney General Greg Abbott has told him he won’t run against him in next year’s GOP primary should the incumbent seek reelection.
Of course, just a few hours later, the story was updated to include a statement from Abbott’s spokesman, Eric Bearse:
A spokesman for Abbott’s campaign issued a statement saying he wasn’t familiar with any such deal, and called any speculation about the attorney general’s political future “unproductive.”
“Gov. Perry and Gen. Abbott are close friends, and talk frequently,” wrote Abbott’s spokesman Eric Bearse in the statement. “I am not going to comment on private conversations I am not privy to. General Abbott is focused on taking care of the business of Texas, and political speculation right now is unproductive. The time for politics is after the legislative session.
There is only one scenario that makes sense. Perry has told Abbott that he is not running for a fourth term. There is no deal. Abbott would not defer to Perry when the AG has enough money to win a primary in his campaign account, while Perry’s fundraising has been anemic by comparison. The rest is theater: Perry can save face by saying Abbott promised not to run against him, and Perry can still pretend that he can win another term (which he can’t). Eventually Perry will step aside and Abbott will assume the favorite’s role in the gubernatorial primary.