How Gov. Greg Abbott made Austin’s police budget cuts a top campaign issue for candidates running in November

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Protesters clash with police in riot gear in downtown Austin on Aug. 1. Calls to "defund police" during a revived nationwide movement calling for criminal justice reform have sparked an increasingly polarizing political debate. Gov. Greg Abbott has made the matter a campaign issue for 2020 candidates. Credit: Jordan Vonderhaar for The Texas Tribune

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Heading into the November election, Gov. Greg Abbott has made clear that he believes policing should be top of mind for all Texas candidates and voters.

The Republican state leader, who isn’t on the ballot this cycle, has repeatedly condemned recent efforts to cut police budgets and shift money instead toward other social services that activists and local Texas officials say could stem systemic racism and crime. He has reacted by proposing drastic legislation to counter any cuts and even asking all those seeking office this year to pledge against any effort to “defund the police.”