Greg Abbott, the current Attorney General for the State of Texas (and presumptive Republican nominee for Texas Governor), has made a political career out of locking horns with the Obama Administration on a variety of different issues, from Voter ID laws to Obamacare. So, when you see the headline that Gen. Abbott is joining with the Obama Administration Department of Justice on any issue, it raises your attention level. This past week, Abbott chose to join the DOJ’s effort to block the proposed merger between American Airlines and US Airways. Making this decision even more quizzical is the fact that American Airlines is based in Texas and has long been (no matter your thoughts on their actual performance) a crown jewel of corporate Texas. Some question what the future holds for American Airlines if this merger is killed.
So, why would Abbott walk arm-in-arm with Obama on a major issue that is so critical to the economy of Texas?
No doubt that Attorney General Abbott’s press releases will be filled with legal justifications for doing so. And that may actually be the case. As Sigmund Freud once said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
However, in politics, a “cigar” is often a disguise for the fire burning elsewhere. Candidate Abbott says that he is concerned with the impact that the merger will have on smaller markets throughout Texas. However, his likely opponent, Senator Wendy Davis, has taken an equally unusual step in openly opposing President Obama’s position on blocking the merger – citing the need to save Texas jobs.
This appears to be the first step in the Governor’s Race 2014. It may just be minor skirmish but gives some clues about where the candidates may feel they are vulnerable. Greg Abbott trying to bolster small business/smaller city support and Wendy Davis attempting to show some support for Texas jobs and the economy after making a national and statewide splash with social issues.
Great political decisions are made now and the impact of these decisions is not felt until about two weeks before the election. Of course, bad decisions can blow up immediately.
UPDATE: Some early analysis of the two sides from the FW Business Press.