DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Outgoing Texas GOP Chair, Retired Lt. Col. Allen West has joined former State Senator Don Huffines of Dallas in challenging Governor Greg Abbott in the Republican primary.

Huffines said in a statement, “I want to welcome Allen West to the race for Texas Governor. I look forward to Allen joining our efforts to make clear that Texans can do better than Greg Abbott.”

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SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson said West and Huffines face an uphill climb. Greg Abbott is still a popular Governor.”

Abbott still leads by a wide margin among Republican primary voters.

A new Dallas Morning News-UT Tyler poll conducted before West’s announcement, showed Abbott leading Huffines 77%-12% among primary voters.

Earlier this year, the Governor’s campaign announced he had about $38 million in the bank.

During a joint appearance last week, former President Donald Trump repeated that he gave Abbott his strong endorsement and he acknowledged the primary fight.

The former President told the Governor, “They shouldn’t be able to beat you. You’ve done a great job.”

Some conservatives sharply criticized the Governor for his mask mandate and not reopening Texas early enough during the pandemic.

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Jillson said, “Governor Abbott has had some rough patches over the course of the last 18 months or so, particularly the pandemic response, many conservatives thought that he leaned too heavily on executive powers that he may or may not actually have under the Constitution.”

As a result, Jillson said the Governor is shifting to his political right. “Abbott sees these people, and he is trying to preempt them. And I think so far, fairly successfully.”

In the Texas Attorney General’s race, Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former State Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman are challenging Ken Paxton.

The Dallas Morning News-UT Tyler poll shows Paxton leading among primary voters with 42%, while Bush has 34%, and Guzman at 4%.

While Paxton remains in the lead among primary voters, he is still facing state fraud charges and is reportedly under FBI investigation after his former top deputies made bribery allegations against him.

Jillson said, “They know that various legal and judicial authorities have a bead on Paxton and should one of them nail him, and he’d be crippled, if not go down, have to resign, they want to be there in order to take his place.”

Two Democrats have announced they’re running for Texas Attorney General, but no major Democrat has announced a run for Governor just yet.

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WATCH INTERVIEW WITH CAL JILLSON