By Jonathan Tilove, Austin American-Statesman (TNS)
AUSTIN, Texas — On Wednesday, Greg Abbott, Texas’ attorney general, is expected to announce that for the 31st time he will be suing the Obama administration on behalf of his state, this time trying to block the president’s executive order on immigration. On Friday, Greg Abbott, governor-elect, will be President Barack Obama’s guest at the White House, one of a half-dozen new governors the president wants to talk with on job creation.
“The president will meet with newly elected governors from across the country to discuss the ways in which the administration can partner with states in promoting economic opportunity and expanding security for middle-class Americans,” a White House spokesman said Tuesday. “The president and the incoming governors will discuss how we can build on our growing economy by creating more jobs and ensuring that every American who works hard has an opportunity to succeed.”
Abbott and newly elected governors of Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Alaska and Pennsylvania also will visit with Vice President Joe Biden.
Abbott’s top priorities include border security and continuing to promote job creation in Texas.
More than any of the other new governors who will be at the White House on Friday, Abbott has made Obama his political foil, both as Texas attorney general and as a candidate for governor against Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis.
Abbott’s campaign leaned heavily on an ad that began with a shot of a desk with a nameplate suggesting that Obama was governor of Texas. “Barack Obama as the governor of Texas?” asked the narrator. “He may as well be on the ballot because Wendy Davis is just like Obama.”
Throughout his run for governor, Abbott’s sturdiest campaign line was his simple explanation of his job as attorney general: “I go into the office in the morning, I sue Barack Obama, and then I go home.”
By his staff’s count, that accurately describes 30 days of his service as attorney general, and Wednesday might make it 31.
He has called an afternoon news conference in Austin at which he is expected to announce a lawsuit he has promised to file to thwart Obama’s effort to protect from deportation as many as 5 million immigrants who are in the country illegally.
In an interview Monday on Fox News, Abbott said Texas will be especially harmed by the president’s executive action, which the governor-elect predicted would lead to another mass wave of border crossings into the state by Central Americans. He said the president’s order was an abuse of prosecutorial discretion.
“If a president can do this, then a president could also say, ‘You know what? For the next four years of my presidency, I’m not going to prosecute anyone who does not pay their income taxes.’ That would be a way to give a writ large tax break to all Americans, and, of course, that would lead to chaos with regard to our system,” Abbott said. “So you cannot have an at-large decision to not prosecute an entire class of people.”
The politics are a bit complicated because Obama’s order is especially popular with Hispanics, whom Abbott has been courting, but also especially unpopular with tea party Republicans, on whose continued support he is counting.
“Efficient,” tweeted Matt Angle, head of the Democratic Lone Star Project, noting that with his prospective lawsuit, Abbott can “throw red meat to T-Party Rs while disguising hostility to Latinos as an attack on Obama.”
In addition to Abbott, the other newly elected governors in attendance will be Bill Walker, who was just sworn in as governor of Alaska, and Govs.-elect Bruce Rauner of Illinois, Larry Hogan of Maryland, Charlie Baker of Massachusetts and Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania.
Walker was a Republican, but he ran for governor as an independent and defeated Republican Gov. Sean Parnell as part of a unity ticket in which the Democratic candidate for governor stepped aside and instead ran for lieutenant governor with Walker. The Parnell campaign derided the fusion ticket as “Alaska’s Team Obama.”
Rauner, a Republican who upset Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn to become governor of the president’s home state, has a long personal and business relationship with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is among Obama’s closest confidants and his first White House chief of staff.
Hogan in Maryland and Baker in Massachusetts are both Republican winners in predominantly Democratic states, though Massachusetts also produced Gov. Mitt Romney, Obama’s 2012 Republican rival.
Obama campaigned for Wolf, a Democrat who upended Republican Gov. Tom Corbett.
Photo: The Texas Tribune via Flickr