Democrat Beto O’Rourke to run for Governor of Texas in 2022
Democrat Beto O’Rourke is running for governor of Texas as he seeks a blue breakthrough in America’s biggest red state after his 2018 US Senate campaign that brought him closer than anyone else in decades.
O’Rourke’s announcement on Monday kicks off a third round for a position in several election cycles. He took off in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary as a partisan phenomenon, but pulled out after just eight months as the money and fanfare dried up.
“It won’t be easy. It’s not going to be easy,” O’Rourke said in an interview with the Associated Press before announcing that it was possible, “I think, very strongly, from listening to people in this situation that they are very unhappy with the direction in which (Governor.) Greg Abbott has taken Texas.” .
O’Rourke’s return constitutes one of 2022’s loudest – and perhaps most expensive – races for the Governor. Abbott, a Republican, is seeking a third term and has put Texas at the forefront of hard-right policymaking in state capitals and has emerged as a national figure. A challenge from O’Rourke, a media savvy former congressman with a track record of attracting attention and money, could tempt Democrats across the country to pour millions of dollars into trying – once again – to overthrow Texas.
Still, O’Rourke returns as an underdog. Although the state’s growing number of Hispanic, young, and college-educated voters is a good thing for Democrats, the party’s spending in the 2020 presidential election has left them with nothing.
The prospects for Democrats nationwide look worse as next year’s midterm elections approach. Texas has not elected a Democratic governor since Anne Richards in 1990. And newly manipulated political maps, which Abbott signed into law in October, bolster Republicans in booming suburban neighborhoods that have strayed from the party. That could mean fewer competitive races and lower turnout.
O’Rourke, 49, will have to win over not only hundreds of thousands of new voters but also some of his old ones. When O’Rourke lost to Republican Senator Ted Cruz by just 2.5 percentage points, Abbott won re-election in double digits that same year, reflecting the large number of Texans who voted for O’Rourke and the Republican governor.
This cross appeal was a hallmark of the Senate campaign driven by active rallies, ideological confusion, and unstructured live broadcasts on social media. But as a presidential candidate, O’Rourke has molded himself into a liberal champion who has advocated reduced immigration enforcement and mandatory gun buybacks.
In a pronouncement widely heard in gun-friendly Texas, O’Rourke declared, “Hell, yes, we’ll take the AR-15.”
“I don’t think this is going to sell very well,” Abbott said in January.
In the interview, O’Rourke indicated that he would try to win back the middle in his bid for governor. Abbott has been criticized for a “too radical and divisive” agenda that caters to the far right.
When asked about gun control, he said he didn’t think Texans wanted to see their families “shooting with weapons designed for war.” But he quickly turned to criticizing Abbott for eliminating background checks and training on concealed handgun clearances, and weapon systems that once had bipartisan support.
O’Rourke argued that the broad coalition of voters that led to the impending outbreak of upset in 2018, which included Republican moderates, could be formed again.
He said, “What I will focus on is listening to the people and bringing them together to do the big work ahead. And obviously the first big job is to win this election. But the voters and the votes are there.”
O’Rourke isn’t the only one in the race to regain his place in Texas.
For most of his six years in office, Abbott had an aura of political invulnerability. But his job approval rating has slipped during the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 70,000 Texans, as well as the winter blackouts that have cast a shadow over the nation’s energy capital and a legislative session that broke new barriers to voting and effectively banned most abortions in the country. United State. condition. Abbott also vigorously bucked the Biden administration’s pandemic policies, angering some of Texas’ biggest schools and employers by banning mask and vaccines.
Despite the victories of conservative politics, Abbott faces pressure from his party’s right wing. Two troubled conservatives, including former Florida congressman Allen West, have launched fundamental challenges. Former President Donald Trump backed Abbott, but also pressured him to scrutinize the results of the entire 2020 state election due to false allegations of fraud, despite his victory in Texas. Abbott refused.
However, the Texas governor enters the race with a $55 million war fund, the largest of any current governor in the country.
Trump’s narrow victory by Texas standards, 5.5 percentage points, was a closer end than his victory on the Ohio battlefield. For shrunken Democrats, this was evidence that Texas was heading — albeit very slowly.
The party struggled for months to identify a rival to Abbott, resulting in a “peto or bankruptcy” plan that reflected persistent suspicion even within their ranks. No other Democrat entered the race or dealt with the Abbott challenge.
Actor Matthew McConaughey, who lives in Austin, has been teasing about running for governor for months, but he hasn’t said if he’ll run for Republican or Democrat.
Any shot of O’Rourke would require at least a touch of magic to battle it out in the Senate against Cruz, when the punk rocker from El Paso beat suburban moderates and stumbled on the way to most of Texas’ 254 counties. He said he will again appear in difficult places for Democrats, who for decades have failed to translate the explosive growth and demographic shifts in Texas into a path out of the wilderness of politics.
Texas Supercharged has grown to nearly 30 million people over the past decade and has five of the 12 largest cities in the country. Texas’s explosive growth has been driven almost entirely by the new population of Hispanics, blacks, and traditionally Democratic voters, and Democrats say these demographic shifts combined with crisis fatigue and the GOP’s culture wars could push Abbott out of office.
Republicans have ridiculed O’Rourke as an exaggeration since he withdrew from the presidential race. One of O’Rourke’s first projects after ending his bid for the White House – leading the impeachment overturning of the Texas House – failed to secure one additional Democratic seat.
However, he started a reboot of O’Rourke, who poked fun at his presidential candidacy with a cover story in Vanity Fair and soul-searching blog posts, but has spent most of the past 18 months as an activist and party organizer. He knocked on doors along the Texas-Mexico border to register new voters and led a nearly 30-mile (48-kilometre) march to the state capitol.
He’s also proven that he can still tap into a large network of donors, who fed his $80 million fundraising drive during his Senate campaign.