- Beto O’Rourke is running for governor of Texas in 2022.
- He is looking to unseat Gov. Greg Abbott and to be the first Democrat elected statewide since 1994.
- O’Rourke ran a competitive 2018 campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz, but faces an uphill battle in 2022.
Former congressman Beto O’Rourke is running for governor of Texas as a Democrat against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott in 2022, he announced on Monday morning.
O’Rourke gained a national profile from his ultimately unsuccessful senate campaign against Ted Cruz in 2018, where he came within just three points of defeating the incumbent senator. He also ran in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, losing out to President Joe Biden.
-Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) November 15, 2021
No Democrat has been elected to statewide office in the Lone Star State since 1994.
And while O’Rourke came closest than any other Democratic candidate to break that streak in his 2018 Senate bid, he’ll face an uphill battle against Abbott, who is far less divisive and more popular than Cruz, in a presidential midterm with a far less favorable environment for Democrats. Even in 2018, Abbott easily won reelection by 13 points, earning over 395,000 more votes than Cruz.
While Democrats were optimistic after O’Rourke put up a strong performance in 2018 and Democratic candidates flipped two competitive US House seats, the results in 2020 were a major reality check for Democrats hoping to turn the state blue, as Republicans made gains among nonwhite voters especially. Former President Donald Trump easily carried the state, Sen. John Cornyn sailed to reelection, and Republicans held on to every single competitive US House seat up for election in 2020.
In his announcement video and in an interview with Texas Monthly Magazine, O’Rourke emphasized energy issues and the need to shore up Texas’ power grid after a devastating winter storm in February left huge swaths of the state without power for days, causing hundreds of deaths and massive damage.
“I don’t know how much any candidate is going to have to do to convince the people of Texas that Greg Abbott has failed them as governor,” O’Rourke said. “By one report, seven hundred people were killed due to his mismanagement of the power grid. And in the legislative session that followed, he did nothing meaningful to prepare us for the next winter storm or the next test of our electricity grid.”
O’Rourke is seeking to paint Abbott, who has taken a hardline position asking vaccine and mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic and pushed culture war issues like limiting transgender students from competing in sports and the teaching of race-based concepts in schools, as an extremist.
“Greg Abbott is looking out for his donors and his campaign contributors and not for the people of Texas,” O’Rourke told Texas Monthly.
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