Democrat Beto O’Rourke running for Texas governor in 2022

AUSTIN -- Democrat Beto Olson is running for Texas governor. His star-making U.S. Senate campaign of 2018 brought him closer than any other person in decades.

Democrat Beto O’Rourke running for Texas governor in 2022

AUSTIN -- Democrat Beto Olson is running for Texas governor. His star-making U.S. Senate campaign of 2018 brought him closer than any other person in decades.

O'Rourke's announcement Monday launches a third campaign for office in the same election cycle. He exploded into the 2020 Democratic Presidential primary as party phenomenon, but dropped out eight months later because of money and fanfare.

It's not going be easy. It is possible," O'Rourke stated in an interview with The Associated Press before his announcement. "I believe strongly that people in Texas are unhappy with the direction (Gov.) has taken." Greg Abbott has taken Texas."

O'Rourke's re-election opens up one of the most prominent and expensive races for governor in 2022. Abbott, a Republican is running for a third term. He has placed Texas at the forefront of hard right policymaking and made him a national figure. O'Rourke is a former congressman who has a track record of generating attention and could challenge Abbott. This could encourage Democrats across the country to invest millions of dollars in trying to flip Texas.

O'Rourke still looks like an underdog. While the state's increasing Latino population and young college-educated voters are good news for Democrats, their spending spree in the 2020 presidential election has left them empty.

Texas hasn't elected a Democratic governor since Ann Richards was elected in 1990. And newly gerrymandered electoral maps, signed by Abbott in October, strengthen Republicans' standing within booming suburban areas that have been drifting away. This could lead to fewer candidates and lower turnout.

O'Rourke (49) will need to win over hundreds of thousands of voters as well as some of his older supporters. O'Rourke lost by 2.5 percentage points to Republican Senator Ted Cruz in 2018, but Abbott won reelection that year by double digits, reflecting the large number of Texans who voted O'Rourke as well as for the GOP governor.

This appeal for crossover was the hallmark of a Senate campaign that featured energetic rallies, ideological blurriness, and unscripted social media streams. O'Rourke was a presidential candidate but he transformed himself into a liberal champion, calling for the slashing of immigration enforcement and mandatory firearm buybacks.

O'Rourke made a single pronouncement that was heard all over Texas in firearm-friendly Texas.

Abbott is already working to ensure that voters don't forget about O'Rourke's other positions as a presidential candidate. O'Rourke was in the race Monday when Abbott was at the U.S./Mexico border. There, a long-time Democrat announced that he would be switching to the GOP and joining the party. Sharp inroads Republicans made last year with Hispanic voters at the border alarmed Democrats. O'Rourke will be spending the first days of his campaign in South Texas trying to make an impression.

They were not just at odds with Texans. Abbott spoke out about O'Rourke's White House positions. "He wants you to take your guns and deprive your Second Amendment rights. "We will not allow that to happen."

O'Rourke indicated that he will try to regain the middle in his campaign for governor. Abbott's "very extreme, divisive" agenda which caters to the hard right was a major criticism.

When asked about gun control, he stated that he doesn't believe Texasans want their families "shot up using weapons that were intended for war." However, he quickly slammed Abbott for abolition of background checks and training to obtain concealed handgun permits. Gun regulations once enjoyed bipartisan support.

O'Rourke suggested that the broad coalition, which included Republican moderates and voters, that fueled his 2018 near-upset could be reformed.

He stated, "What I'm going focus on is listening and bringing together people to do the big job before us." "Obviously, the first big job is to win this election. But the voters are and will continue to be there."

O'Rourke announced his candidacy in a video that runs two minutes. In it, he speaks directly to the camera and criticizes the GOP agenda. He claims it ignores issues voters "actually agree on," like expanding Medicare and legalizing cannabis. He stated that "those in public trust have stopped listening, serving and paying attention" to Texas's people.

O'Rourke is not the only one trying to regain his footing here in Texas.

Abbott's six-year tenure in office has been marked by an aura of political invincibility. His job approval rating dropped during the coronavirus outbreak that has claimed more than 70,000 lives. This was combined with a devastating winter blackout. A legislative session passed new barriers for voting, effectively banning most abortions in Texas. Abbott aggressively opposed the Biden administration's pandemic policy, angering many of Texas' largest schools.

Despite his conservative policy wins, Abbott is under pressure from his right flank. Two conservative firebrands, including ex-FL congressman Allen West have launched primary challenges. Trump, the former President, has supported Abbott and has also pressured him to audit all 2020 election results over fraudulent claims of fraud. This even though he was elected in Texas. Abbott refused.

The Texas governor still has a $55million campaign war chest. This is the largest of any incumbent governors in the country.

Trump's victory was narrow by Texas standards, 5.5 percent points closer than his victory in the historic battleground of Ohio. It was a sign that Texas is changing, even though it was painfully slow for deflated Democrats.

After months of trying to find a challenger for Abbott, the party came up with a "Beto-or-bust" plan that reflected their continued skepticism. The race has been won by no other Democrats.

Actor Matthew McConaughey lives in Austin, and has been hinting at a run for governor since months. However, he hasn't said if he would do it as a Republican, or a Democrat.

Any chance for O'Rourke is dependent on at least a little magic from his Senate race against Cruz. That was when the former punk rocker El Paso won over suburban moderates, and he road-tripped to Texas' reddest 254 counties. He stated that he would again be present in difficult places for Democrats who, for decades, have not been able to turn the state's tumultuous growth and demographic shifts into a way out of political chaos.

Texas' supercharged growth has seen it reach nearly 30 million residents in the past decade. It also has five of the 12 largest cities in the country. Texas' rapid growth has been driven almost entirely in part by new Latino residents and Black residents. Traditionally Democratic voters, Democrats believe these demographic shifts, along with fatigue over crises, and GOP culture wars, could lead to Abbott's ouster.

Since O'Rourke dropped out of the presidential race, Republicans have ridiculed O'Rourke for being too hyped. O'Rourke's first project after he lost the White House bid was to lead a charge for Texas House flipping. Democrats did not win one additional seat.

Updated Date: 15 November 2021, 14:57

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