Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) said Friday he will not run for governor in 2022 after previously saying he was mulling a challenge to Gov. Greg Abbott (R).
“I’ve got no plans to run, and I’m very focused on the things that I’m lucky enough to do right now — organizing, registering voters and teaching,” O’Rourke told The Dallas Morning News in an interview for an upcoming episode of its “Lone Star Politics” podcast. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing now.”
The statement comes after O’Rourke, who gained national fame when he nearly bested Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOcasio-Cortez to Cruz: Your resignation is 84 days past due Diversity chief at US Special Operations Command reassigned during probe into social media posts 44 percent say gun violence is related to easy access to firearms: poll MORE (R-Texas) in the 2018 midterms, said in January he was considering another shot at statewide office.
“It’s something I’m going to think about,” O’Rourke said at the time when asked about a challenge to Abbott.
O’Rourke would have likely been a front-runner in the Democratic gubernatorial primary next year, though speculation had emerged over his chances in a statewide race in Texas given some of the liberal stances he took during his 2020 presidential campaign.
Among the policies O’Rourke adopted that Democrats hinted could be an issue in Texas was his support for mandatory buyback of assault weapons, a policy that could turn off voters in a state with a longstanding gun culture.
His absence from the race will force Democrats to seek another candidate they believe can be a strong contender statewide.
Democrats have long maintained they can be competitive in the Lone Star State, though their expectations have repeatedly come up short. The party had boasted that President BidenJoe BidenThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden may find zero GOP support for jobs plan Republicans don’t think Biden really wants to work with them Lack of cyber funds in Biden infrastructure plan raises eyebrows MORE could win Texas in November, though he lost by more than 5 points as then-President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden may find zero GOP support for jobs plan Republicans don’t think Biden really wants to work with them The biggest campaign issue of 2022? MORE made impressive gains in the southern part of the state.
Defeating Abbott will be no easy feat given the two-term incumbent’s high name recognition and well-oiled fundraising machine. Abbott in 2018 coasted to reelection over Democrat Lupe Valdez by more than 13 points.
Still, O’Rourke expressed confidence that a Democrat could quash Abbott’s bid for a third term, saying that the party should make “competence” a key part of the race in light of the recent backlash the governor faced over his handling of severe winter weather that killed several Texans.
“We have no shortage of talent and no shortage of challenges that we have in this state because of Greg Abbott’s failed leadership that we can correct with competent leaders moving forward,” he said. “There’s more than enough for a candidate to run on, and more than enough qualified Democratic prospective candidates to do that job. I feel very good about our prospects in 2022.”