AUSTIN -- The Republican Party in Texas will have its back to the wall in next year's general election following Democrat gains in 2006, warns GOP Attorney General Greg Abbott.

Abbott told a gathering last Thursday of the GOP-affiliated Galveston Island Pachyderm Club, on the state's Gulf Coast, that the Republican hold on Houston's Harris County is weakening.

That matches a trend in Dallas County, swept by Democrats last year, Abbot told the assembled. He said Houston's Republicans, like Dallas's, have fled to outlying suburban counties.

Abbott told the audience: "We need to be prepared for a closer, tighter, tougher battle" for the 2008 election, the Galveston Daily News reported.

He said the state's growing Hispanic population and transition to a "majority-minority" state were also working against the GOP. Hispanics have traditionally voted Democrat by a solid majority.

The attorney general tried to fire up the local faithful, noting that only two of Galveston County's six-county elective office were held by the GOP. "You are a rock-solid Republican county," he told the audience.

Abbott said Republican votes in Galveston will also be needed to elect the GOP slate to the state's Court of Appeals next year.

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