- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 20, 2015

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Greg Abbott was sworn in Tuesday as Texas’ first new governor in 14 years and promised that the state will stay as defiantly 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.”

Fighter jets streaked through sunny skies, ceremonial cannons boomed, the University of Texas marching band blared and the smell of four tons of beef brisket prepared for the inaugural barbeque hung over the steps of the state Capitol, where Abbott and new lieutenant governor Dan Patrick formally took office.

Abbott, who was previously state attorney general, sued the Obama administration around 30 times, mostly for what Texas claimed was overreach on federal environmental regulations. He promised more of the same as governor: “I will continue my legacy of pushing back against Washington if they spend too much, regulate too much, or violate our state sovereignty.”

“Any government that uses the guise of fairness to rob us of our freedom will get a uniquely Texan response: ‘come and take it,’” Abbott said, a reference to a famous battle from the Texas revolution. “We Texans aren’t spoiling for a fight, but we won’t shrink from one if the cause is right.”

Organizers raised more than $4.5 million for the inaugural festivities, which also include a parade, a ball and a concert featuring Lady Antebellum. About 3,000 people attended, many wearing red, white and blue and waving Texas flags - but some bailed on the speeches to beat the line for a plate of barbeque at $10 a head.

A souvenir stand sold items ranging from $5 beer “koozies” to $100 cufflinks.

Joe Gaston, a 61-year-old lay minister from Pearland in suburban Houston, arrived early, lugging a 12-foot, 45-pound cross - hoping to bring a spiritual message to the event. Taking inspiration from the biblical story of Joshua at Jericho, he said he’d walk around the Capitol for three days, “praying for leadership.”



Tea party favorite Dan Patrick has been sworn in as Texas’ new lieutenant governor and will oversee the powerful state Senate.

A devout born-again Christian, Patrick had been a state senator since 2007. He was inaugurated on the Texas Capitol steps Tuesday by his son Ryan, a state district judge in Houston. Patrick promised to take Texas’ already strong conservatism “to the next level,” saying Texans “gave us a mandate.”

He cited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in praising “school choice,” or voucher programs that allow taxpayer money to flow to private and religious schools.

Patrick has also promised deep property and business tax cuts. The 54-year-old succeeds David Dewhurst, who had been lieutenant governor since 2003 but lost to Patrick in a bitter Republican primary last March.



The swearing in of new Texas Gov. Greg Abbott makes his wife the state’s first Hispanic first lady. Cecilia Abbott is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants and was raised in San Antonio.

Delivering his inaugural address on the steps of the state Capitol on Tuesday, the new governor said his wife embodies Texas. He said the state “has been the blending of cultures from across the globe even before we became our own nation.”

Hispanics are the state’s fastest-growing segment of the population and are forecast to make up a plurality of its residents as soon as 2020.

Cecilia Abbott, 55, shares the same birthday as her husband, Nov. 12, but he’s two years her senior.



Both chambers reconvene Wednesday, after doing little for five days. Still to come is a Senate vote on chamber rules and a potential fight over a tradition that has mandated that at least two-thirds of 31 Texas senators agree to a bill before it can be debated. The House spent hours debating and finally passing its rules last week.



“It starts at 11, so I’d say you’d want to be down there before then,” Rep. Charlie Geren, a Fort Worth Republican who chairs the House Administration Committee, responding to a question on the floor about what time state representatives should head outside for the inauguration.

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