Accident set Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on a path toward politics

Accident set Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on a path toward politics
By Theodore Kim
Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN – Greg Abbott was elected attorney general in 2002. But his political trek began decades earlier – in agony.

At age 26, Abbott was partially paralyzed in a freak accident and bedridden for a month. His dream to practice law withered. But he tilled new ambitions, reading about politics during his recovery and internalizing a credo from his mother: Never say I can’t.

“That is one of the more guiding principals that got me through,” said Abbott, now 52. “Just because this happened doesn’t mean I can’t do whatever it is I wanted to do. It picked me up off of the hospital bed and got me going.”

The accident – an oak tree fell and struck his back as he jogged by – kept him hospitalized and in rehabilitation for more than three months. The recovery was often excruciating. He has used a wheelchair ever since.

It also hardened his resolve and propelled him on a path toward politics. He passed the bar exam a year after the accident, excelled as a Houston lawyer and eventually was elected a judge. Abbott, a Republican, has won two terms as attorney general and is running again against retired Houston lawyer Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Democrat.

He has used his tenure to combat child predators and human trafficking and to chime in on highly charged topics from climate change to health care.

Abbott disarms audiences with a folksy charm, but he casts a polarizing shadow. Critics see him as an opportunistic publicity hound. They, and his supporters, regard him as a future candidate for higher office, perhaps governor.

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