Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a paraplegic since 1984, has thrown his hat into the ring for governor. Abbott is only the second Republican since Reconstruction to serve as Texas attorney general, to which he was first elected in 2002. He has run an unprecedented three times and is the longest-serving attorney general in his state’s history, which makes him a formidable opponent.
Abbott is proud of his conservative record. Once, when asked what he does as attorney general, he quipped, “I go to the office, I sue Barack Obama and I go home.” He has sued to stop mandated contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act and has sued the Environmental Protection Agency over pollution standards 17 times.
Within his state’s disability advocacy community, Abbott has a reputation for not supporting disability rights. “Greg Abbott has been consistently working against our goals and avoiding us for as long as I have known of him,” says National ADAPT organizer Stephanie Thomas, who lives in Austin. “I don’t know anybody in the disability advocacy community who thinks he’s a champion of disability rights.”
Abbott unsuccessfully sued the federal government for the state of Texas, claiming sovereign immunity from the Americans with Disabilities Act. He says although he personally supports the ADA, his status as a person with a disability should have no bearing on how he does his job. “I can’t commit legal malpractice by not asserting something because I’m in a wheelchair,” he said to The New York Times. “I find it offensive to constitutional principles, I find it unpatriotic to ask me to not fulfill my constitutional sworn oath just because I’m in a wheelchair.”