|McALLEN, November 5 - Greg Abbott fell a long way short of his stated goal of winning majority support in the Rio Grande Valley.
Abbott was hoping to win Cameron County and come close to winning Hidalgo County. He did not come close.
In Cameron County, Abbott secured 42.02 percent support, compared to Wendy Davis’ 55.46 percent. In Hidalgo County, Abbott won 34.79 percent of the vote, while Davis picked up 62.7 percent.
Abbott made the Valley a top priority in his gubernatorial campaign. He announced he was running for governor in McAllen and made close to 20 visits to the Valley. He said many times that he wanted to make a serious dent in the Hispanic vote, which traditionally goes to Democratic candidates.
The day after participating in the first gubernatorial debate in the Valley, Abbott spoke to supporters in McAllen. He said he was “blazing a trail” for the Hispanic vote. He said if GOP supporters worked hard and got voters to the polls they would be making history. “They will be writing about this for years to come, the election when a Republican won the Rio Grande Valley,” Abbott said.
After his remarks, Peggy Fikac, a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle, asked Abbott if he was seriously suggesting he could win the heavily Democratic Valley.
“You have talked about wanting to get a bigger percentage of the Hispanic vote than George W. Bush did. This is the first time I have actually heard you say you thought you could win the Valley. Do you really believe that is realistic? How could you do that? That has never happened,” Fikac said.
Abbott responded with these comments: “It is unprecedented and here's the strategy. When I was on the ballot last time, in 2010, I got 48 percent of the vote in Cameron County, which is one of the Valley counties. We are pushing for more than 50 percent of the vote in Cameron County. The organization and the support we have in Hidalgo County is also very, very, high. I think we have a legitimate shot at either winning the Rio Grande Valley in toto or coming very, very, close to do doing it.”
In his 2010 race for attorney general, Abbott secured 48.21 percent of the vote in Cameron County. Democrat Barbara Ann Radnofsky edged him with 48.78 percent. So, Abbott did better in Cameron County in 2010 than he did in this year’s general election.
Abbott did do better in the Valley than Rick Perry did running for governor in 2010. Perry picked up 40.82 percent in Cameron County that year while Democratic challenger Bill White won 57.3 percent of the vote. In Hidalgo County in 2010, Perry secured 31.75 percent of the vote to White’s 66.82 percent.
The best Republican effort in the Valley in modern times was in 1998. In Cameron County that year Gov. George W. Bush won 59.29 percent of the vote. Democrat Garry Mauro secured 40.10 percent. In Hidalgo County that year, Bush picked up 52.94 percent of the vote to Mauro’s 46.63 percent.