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SAN ANTONIO Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott declared his candidacy for governor on a sunny Sunday afternoon in La Villita, a historic square on the San Antonio River.

When it comes to our freedom and our future, I will never never stop fighting, Abbott said. That s why I am asking you the people of Texas to elect me as your next Governor. I believe it s high time that people on Main Street benefit just as much as folks on Wall Street.

Abbott, 55, pledged to keep Texas number one in the nation's economy by controlling debt and reducing the amount the state can borrow.

Just as all of us make tough budget decisions, so too must government, he said.

Abbott boasted about his record on states' rights.

I've fought for the constitutional principle of federalism by suing an overreaching federal government 27 times, he said. I didn't invent the phrase 'Don't Mess with Texas,' but I have applied it more than anyone else ever has.

He said he took President Obama to court on the day that health care reform was signed into law, and pledged to fight for working middle-class Texans.

Abbott's 16-year-old daughter, Audrey, introduced him to a crowd of almost a thousand supporters following an unexplained delay of one hour as the crowd used programs to fan themselves in the 95 degree heat.

I love going hunting with him, she said, adding: He loves to tweet! He's always on the phone.

The attorney general was born in Wichita Falls, but grew up in Duncanville.

He has $22 million in his campaign bank account and is widely believed to be a lock for the GOP nomination and the likely next governor in a state run by Republicans and one which hasn't fielded a successful Democratic candidate since Ann Richards in 1994.

Abbott's announcement comes exactly 29 years after the accident that put him in a wheelchair. He was jogging in Houston as a young attorney when a tree fell, paralyzing him.

He called the accident my greatest fight and said Sunday it was a challenge that made my even being here highly improbable.

Abbott was first elected in 1992 as a judge, then Texas Supreme Court justice and finally in 2002 the Texas attorney general.

Tom Pauken, the former chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, is also running for the GOP nomination. He has complained that Abbott seems to be the anointed one for the governor's chair.

Democrats are privately urging Sen. Wendy Davis from Fort Worth to challenge Abbott following her highly-publicized filibuster of the abortion bill last month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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