Gov. Greg Abbott has endorsed Ted Cruz for president, becoming the highest-ranking elected official in Cruz's home state — and the country — to support the U.S. senator's campaign.
Abbott made his endorsement in a video that was released Wednesday morning.
"Conservative values are at his core," Abbott said of Cruz in the video, adding that Cruz is a "constitutionalist whose judgment I trust to appoint the right judges to the United States Supreme Court."
Abbott and Cruz were scheduled to appear to a rally Wednesday afternoon in Cruz's hometown of Houston.
Cruz now has the support of the two most powerful elected officials in Texas: Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, as well as former Gov. Rick Perry. Cruz has also been endorsed by roughly a quarter of the Republicans representing Texas in Congress and nearly half of the GOP members of the state Legislature.
Abbott's endorsement comes as Cruz faces serious competition on his home turf from billionaire Donald Trump, who continues to rack up wins as Cruz promises a strong showing on March 1. As results came in that showed him finishing third Tuesday night in the Nevada caucuses, Cruz said Super Tuesday would mark the "most important night of this campaign."
Abbott, the former attorney general, is a mentor of sorts to Cruz, who served as solicitor general under Abbott from 2003 to 2008. On the campaign trail, Cruz regularly recalls the nine trips he took the U.S. Supreme Court as Texas' top lawyer. He also cites the wisdom Abbott imparted as an attorney general determined to put his office on the front lines of conservative battles.
Abbott's endorsement comes after months of uncertainty about whether he would formally support any candidate in a race that started out with several participants with strong ties to Texas. Abbott had hoped to capitalize on Texas' expanded influence in the nominating process by luring White House hopefuls here to discuss issues important to the state, such as border security. Abbott met with at least two candidates: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who in March toured the border with Abbott, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who visited the Governor's Mansion in October.
It was not until the end of January that Abbott suggested he could make an endorsement, saying he could "weigh in" on the race before March 1. In recent weeks, his silence had become more noticeable to Cruz supporters eager to see the senator shore up his home-state support with the clock ticking until its nominating contest.
Abbott and Cruz are set to speak separately Wednesday night at the Harris County GOP's Lincoln-Reagan Dinner in Houston. One other presidential candidate, Carson, is also scheduled to appear at the event, which is being held on the eve on the Republican debate in Houston. The Texas primary is Tuesday.