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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – After spending 14 years as Texas governor, Rick Perry watched as his successor is sworn into the office on Tuesday. Greg Abbott officially became the new leader of Texas on the south steps of the State Capitol in Austin.

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Abbott promised that the state would stay as conservative as ever, vowing to battle Washington on spending, regulation and any federal initiative “that uses the guise of fairness to rob us of our freedom.”

Crews spent early Tuesday morning making final preparations for the ceremony, including getting 4,000 chairs set out to accomodate the invited guests. Thousands of other onlookers were able to stand and watch history in the making as Abbott became the state’s 48th governor.

Dan Patrick was also sworn in as lieutenant governor.

Perry was not actually present for the ceremony, per Texas tradition, but spokeswoman Lucy Nashed confirmed that he was in Austin.

Fighter jets streaked through sunny skies, ceremonial cannons boomed, the University of Texas marching band blared and the smell of beef brisket hung in the air. Large tents were set up for a barbecue lunch — made for 17,000 people. An inaugural parade will then make its way down Congress Avenue on the south side of the State Capitol in the afternoon.

Among the thousands of invited guests is a teacher from Wylie, her husband and their three children. “It’s exciting. We wanted to be able to share it with the kids, and it’s just neat to be a part of history,” said Julie Gray.

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Country music star Pat Green and group Lady Antebellum will perform at the inaugural ball on Tuesday night. Another 10,000 people are expected to attend that event. The day’s festivities will cost more than $4.5 million.

Perry took office in December 2000 and has been the state’s longest-serving governor. Abbott was previously the state’s longest-serving attorney general. Abbott sued the Obama administration about 30 times as attorney general, mostly for what Texas claimed was overreach on federal environmental regulations.

“I will continue my legacy of pushing back against Washington,” Abbott said Tuesday, “if they spend too much, regulate too much, or violate our state sovereignty.”

Patrick struck a similar theme. After snapping selfies from the podium, he promised to take Texas conservatism “to the next level.”

The new governor also pledged to ease traffic woes and assuage water-shortage fears in the state. He said that he would bolster teachers and better assist “our veterans who return broken from battle.”

“We must seek higher ground,” Abbott said on Tuesday, “that will continue to elevate Texas, not just as a leader in this nation, but as a leader in this world.”

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