Today’s stunning news that Greg Abbott has yanked Texas out of the feds’ case against the proposed American Airlines-US Airways merger suggests how much the AG’s actions are being driven by political considerations. Sure, the GOP gubernatorial candidate spun a pretty picture at today’s news conference, with high-minded strategic talk about seats at the table and preserving service at rural airports and keeping the airline’s headquarters in Fort Worth (was that even in doubt?). But as the DMN‘s Wayne Slater pointed out, the AG’s original position opposing the merger—he said it “turns the free market on its head“—also was being hammered effectively first by Dallas’ Tom Pauken, Abbott’s Republican primary opponent, and then by Wendy Davis, the Fort Worth Democrat who may run for governor.
At a big Dallas social gala Saturday, where Abbott showed up to serve as an “honorary chair,” one of his backers said the AG is counting on big-time support in North Texas, which felt shut out for many years by Rick Perry’s more rural/West Texas sensibilities. And, a lot of people in DFW never did understand Abbott’s throwing in with Obama on the merger, which is of key importance to Fort Worth-based AMR and its thousands of North Texas employees. Slater said the upshot of Abbott’s sudden change of heart is: Wendy Davis 1, Abbott 0. But I think Tom Pauken deserves to have a point up on the board, too. While the AG probably thinks this abrupt reversal will help him in the governor’s race, I think it shows how fickle and reckless he can be in his decision-making. Not great qualities in a candidate for any office.