NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – Greg Abbott told a crowd at North Dallas restaurant he will continue to fight against Obamacare as Governor of Texas, just as he has as state Attorney General.

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In fact, the Republican frontrunner to succeed Governor Rick Perry told CBS 11 News he’s making President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law a key part of his campaign. Abott said, “I would be happy if this campaign were a referendum on Obamacare.”

President Obama and Democrats say the law will help people across the country obtain affordable healthcare — despite huge problems the health care exchanges have had online. But don’t tell that to Abbott and his supporters.

The Texas Restaurant Association endorsed Abbott Monday at the Original Pancake House along Beltline Road. Republicans say here in Texas, Obamacare remains unpopular in part because small business owners worry the law will keep them from expanding jobs.

“Part of my job as Governor will be to ensure the federal government’s regulations don’t put a lid on our ability to create more jobs,” Abbott said.

Elle Nesher moved her small business from Chicago to North Texas six years ago because of what she called the ‘friendly business climate’ — and she says she believes Abbott will keep it that way. “I think he’s going to continue with where we’re going and continue being able to encourage small businesses.”

Cal Jillson, a political scinece professor at Southern Methodist University, says this is Abbott’s race to lose. “He’s doing quite well. He’s been setting up this race for years.”

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Jillson says the Attorney General has built up a loyal following among Tea Party Conservatives — and raised a lot of money. “He’s got a war chest around $25 million and he’s trying to run a mistake free campaign. If he does that, he’s the next Governor of the State of Texas.”

Abbott is facing a primary challenge from former Texas Workforce Commission Chair Tom Pauken. But Jillson believes Pauken will have trouble gaining political traction because Abbott has raised so much money and has strong support with the Republican base.

Jillson and many other political analysts say Democratic State Senator Wendy Davis faces an uphill climb in her bid for governor, since Republicans outnumber Democrats in Texas.

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