'A cold war': Why Greg Abbott’s camp is privately 'annoyed' with Ron DeSantis
When far-right Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis arranged for two planes of migrants to be flown to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, he made sure that Fox News was the first media outlet to know what he was up to. DeSantis wanted to make sure that his political stunt and effort to anger northern liberals would receive as much publicity as possible in right-wing media, and he has been drawing a great deal of criticism from Democrats as well as from Never Trump conservatives.
Another group that has been “annoyed” by DeSantis’ stunt, according to New York Times reporters Michael C. Bender and J. David Goodman, are Republicans in Texas’ state government — including allies of Gov. Greg Abbott.
“Publicly, Mr. Abbott has not criticized Mr. DeSantis’ migrant flights from his state,” Bender and Goodman report in an article published by the Times on September 26. “‘Every state that wants to help, I’m happy for it,’ said Dave Carney, Mr. Abbott’s top campaign strategist. But privately, the Florida governor’s gambit stung Mr. Abbott’s team. No one in the Texas governor’s office was given a heads-up that Mr. DeSantis planned to round up migrants in San Antonio, according to people familiar with the matter.”
According to the Times’ sources, however, this resentment on the part of the Abbott camp isn’t because they view what DeSantis did as morally wrong, but because he took the political spotlight off of them.
“Mr. DeSantis’ instinct for political theater has helped him quickly turn into Republicans’ leading alternative to former President Donald J. Trump,” Bender and Goodman explain. “Even Texas Republicans tell pollsters that they prefer Mr. DeSantis over Mr. Abbott for president in 2024. The two Republican governors have been locked in an increasingly high-stakes contest of one-upmanship, wielding their own unique brands of conservatism and pushing boundaries by using desperate migrants for political gain. In Florida, Mr. DeSantis mused to donors last year about Mr. Abbott’s good political fortune to share 1254 miles of border with Mexico and complained that he didn’t have the same to use as a backdrop, according to one person familiar with the conversation.”
The reporters add, “For all the bluster, the war between Austin and Tallahassee is decidedly more cold than hot. Yet, the two governors’ policy moves antagonizing the Biden Administration and the Democratic Party as a whole have been unfolding as an interstate call and response, with national repercussions.”
According to Bender and Goodman, the “competition between Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Abbott has more to do with their job descriptions than any personal animosity.”
Chris Wilson, a pollster who has worked with both DeSantis and Abbott, told the Times, “No one has ever been elected governor of even a small state who didn’t, somewhere deep in their heart, start dreaming about being president,” said Chris Wilson, a pollster who has worked for both men. “So, it’s not shocking to see both Abbott and DeSantis jockeying at least a little toward 2024 or beyond.”
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