DALLAS, Texas -- In an exclusive interview Wednesday with KVUE's sister station WFAA, Gov. Rick Perry said Attorney General Greg Abbott has told him he won't run against him in next year's GOP primary should Perry seek reelection.
A spokesman for Abbott's campaign has yet to respond to questions about such a deal between the two Republican heavyweights of Texas politics and state government.
But if there is such an agreement, it means Perry has a smoother path to the GOP nomination and a fourth term. He is already the state's longest serving governor, having taken office in Dec. 2000.
And if Perry seeks reelection, the situation arises in which Abbott could consider seeking another higher profile office such as Lieutenant Governor, which would set up another possible battle royale against incumbent David Dewhurst, Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson and others.
Perry gave his State of the State address Tuesday at The Texas Capitol regarding issues like tax relief, water and transportation spending. The big political backdrop of what his plans are for re-election hung over it.
In an interview taped Wednesday for Inside Texas Politics after a Dallas speech, Perry gave his usual response, "In June, I'll be making an announcement on what I'm going to do."
But he revealed to WFAA's Brad Watson and Gromer Jeffers of the Dallas Morning News that if he does run, Attorney General Greg Abbott won't run against him.
This is despite Abbott having $18 million campaign cash on hand compared to Perry’s $6 million. And even though a source confirmed to WFAA that Abbott has assured big donors he’ll run, the governor says he and the state’s top prosecutor have a deal.
"Greg is a dear friend," Perry said. "He has said clearly that if I ran again he's not going to be running against me. But that's beside the point."
Asked to clarify that Abbott told him Abbott won't run if he does, Perry said, "We've had that conversation, yes."
A Public Policy Polling poll released Tuesday found an ominous future for Perry, especially if Abbott, who's not as well known among Texas voters, challenged him. The PPP survey found Abbott would run almost even with Perry in a GOP primary, trailing the incumbent 41 percent to 38 percent.
Yet, among GOP primary voters who said they're familiar with both politicians, Abbott holds a decisive lead: 55 percent to 33 percent.
Abbott, like Perry, has cultivated an active base of supporters and donors and is a tea party favorite, his reputation catapulted by his high profile lawsuits against the Obama administration on numerous fronts.
Perry said he and Abbott still work well together, although he cautions that history can always repeat itself for those who count him out.
“Four years ago there were people asking me these same things about Sen. Hutchison and you're 25 points behind in the polls and you know it goes on and on,” Perry said. “It will all work itself out."
And what about Perry's plans for another possible White House run?
"It'll work itself out, too, after 2014, I'm betting."