AUSTIN — Former U.S. Congressman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke announced Monday that he is running for governor of Texas.
His campaign announcement video largely centered around the Texas power grid’s failure during a winter storm in February.
“When the electricity grid failed and those in power failed all of us, it was the people of Texas who were willing to put their differences behind them and get to work doing the job at hand, which meant helping our fellow Texans get through that crisis,” O’Rourke said. “We did this out of a sense of duty and responsibility to one another. Now imagine if the governor of Texas felt that same way. Well, there’s something that you and I can do about that.”
O’Rourke is hoping to capture the energy he brought to his 2018 U.S. Senate race, when he lost to Republican Senator Ted Cruz by about 2.5 percentage points. O’Rourke used the momentum from that campaign to launch a run for president in 2020, but after a huge fundraising launch, he dropped out a few months before the Iowa caucuses after his campaign never had significant support in the polls.
After that campaign ended, O’Rourke launched a political group focused on registering Texas voters and voting rights. He was a high-profile figure pushing back against Republican efforts to change Texas’ voting laws over the summer.
O’Rourke said the electricity grid failure and the response from state officials is “a symptom of a much larger problem that we have in Texas right now.”
“Those in positions of public trust have stopped listening to, serving and paying attention to and trusting the people of Texas,” O’Rourke said. “They’re not focused on the things that we really want them to do, like making sure that we have a functioning electricity grid or that we’re creating the best jobs in America right here in Texas, or that we have world class schools, or that we make progress on the things that most of us actually agree on.”
O’Rourke is the first major Democratic candidate to enter the race. Republican incumbent Governor Greg Abbott is running for reelection, but will first have to defeat two Republicans challenging him from the right in the primary.
Former Congressman and Texas GOP Chair Allen West and businessman Don Huffines are challenging Abbott for the Republican nomination. Huffines has said that his candidacy has pushed Abbott to be more conservative on issues like banning private business COVID vaccine mandates.
Abbott will be a formidable challenge in both contests. Abbott’s campaign said it had more than $55 million cash on hand at the end of June. His campaign released an ad on Sunday attacking O’Rourke over his opposition to former President Trump’s border wall.
“The last thing Texans need is President Biden’s radical liberal agenda coming to Texas under the guise of Beto O’Rourke,” Mark Miner, the communications director for Texans for Greg Abbott, said in a statement on Monday. “The contrast for the direction of Texas couldn’t be clearer.”
Actor Matthew McConaughey has also talked about entering the race as a Democrat, but in recent interviews has suggested that he’s not sure if holding public office is where he can be most effective. In an interview with The New York Times last week, McConaughey said that in his house, “we go slow on vaccinations, even before Covid.”
A recent University of Texas and Texas Tribune poll showed Abbott leading O’Rourke by nine points in a hypothetical matchup. Abbott had a 43% approval rating in that poll and O’Rourke had a 35% favorability rating.
Beto O’Rourke – “I’m running for governor, and I want to tell you why. This past February when the electricity grid failed and millions of our fellow Texans were without power, which meant that the lights wouldn’t turn on, the heat wouldn’t run and pretty soon their pipes froze and the water stopped flowing, they were abandoned by those who were elected to serve and look out for them. It’s a symptom of a much larger problem that we have in Texas right now. Those in positions of public trust have stopped listening to, serving and paying attention to and trusting the people of Texas, so they’re not focused on the things that we really want them to do, like making sure we have a functioning electricity grid, or that we’re creating the best jobs in America right here in Texas, or that we have world-class schools, or that we make progress on the things that most of us actually agree on, like expanding Medicaid or legalizing marijuana. Instead, they’re focusing on the kind of extremist policies around abortion or permitless carry or even in our schools that really only divide us and keep us apart and stop us from working together on the truly big things that we want to achieve for one another. It’s a really small vision for such a big state, but it doesn’t have to be that way, and I know that together we can get back to being big again because I saw that in February when the electricity grid failed and those in power failed all of us, it was the people of Texas who were willing to put their differences behind them and get to work doing the job at hand, which meant helping our fellow Texans get through that crisis. We did this out of a sense of duty and responsibility to one another. Now, imagine if the governor of Texas felt that same way. Well, there’s something that you and I can do about that. I want you to be a part of this campaign, and whether that begins today with a campaign contribution or signing up for a volunteer shift or just committing yourself to talking with your friends and family about how important this election is, I want you on the team and I want to win this with you and for you and for all the people in Texas. I’m looking forward to seeing you out there on the campaign trail. Thank you.”
Written by KFDM/FOX4
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