Beto O’Rourke to challenge Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in 2022

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Tyler Dyer, News Editor

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) is gearing up to run in the 2022 Texas gubernatorial race, with an announcement expected later this year. His extensive fundraising network could rival the fundraising powerhouse and incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott (R). Despite his significant campaign contributions, O’Rourke lost his previous two electoral bids. In his 2018 Senate race challenging Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), O’Rourke raised almost $80 million. Cruz only raised just $45.3 million in the race yet still won reelection by about 2 points. O’Rourke’s entry provides Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and give O’Rourke a path to a political comeback.

The Democratic Party has yearned to turn Texas blue, but Texas has not elected a Democratic governor since 1990. Texas Democrats are now waiting on O’Rourke to announce his gubernatorial run before putting forward any other candidate in this race. This is a complicated political environment to be running in. Immigration is currently surging at the southern border, and Democrats at the national level are bracing for an intense midterm election and a potential loss of the House of Representatives in 2022.

“We hope that he’s going to run,” Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. “We think he’ll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he’s vulnerable.” “His prohibition against mask and vaccination mandates have not gone over well with Texans,” Hinojosa said. “And with the abortion law, Republicans have raised the anger level of Texas women higher than anyone has ever seen before.”

The Dallas Morning News presented a new poll that shows that O’Rourke has narrowed the gap with Abbott in a hypothetical matchup, down 37%-42%. In July, O’Rourke faced a 12-point deficit, 33%-45%. Abbot has seen his approval rating slowly sink to 41%, with 50% disapproving, in a separate poll over the summer. While Democrats insisted that 2020 could be the year that Texas might turn blue and vote for its first Democrat for president since 1976, President Trump won that state with 52%, the same as his 2016 margin.