Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D) is preparing to run for governor of Texas, pitting himself against Republican Governor Greg Abbott.
Axios reported that the former three-term congressman of El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate has been gathering input from allies and is expected to make his announcement later this year.
David Wysong, O’Rourke’s former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said nothing had been decided yet but confirmed the Democrat has been “making and receiving calls with people from all over the state.”
However, according to the New York Times, a final announcement will be made as soon as this month.
Since Ann Richards was elected governor of Texas in 1990, no other Democrat has held the post. And no prominent Democrat has risen to the challenge against Abbott in the upcoming election.
O’Rourke gained attention from the run against Republican Ted Cruz for a Senate seat in 2018. Although he did not win, the Democrat performed better than anticipated against Cruz.
In a hypothetical battle, O’Rourke has closed the margin with Abbott, with 37% compared to 42% for the Republican counterpart, Axios cited from a new poll for the Dallas Morning News. In July, O’Rourke was trailing by 12 points, of 33% compared to 45%.
The approval trend of Abbott had also shown signs of decline since April, according to another poll. As of August this year, disagreement with the Republican’s leadership had grown to 50%, whereas his approval rate plummeted to 41%.
Aside from his approaches to COVID-19 protocols, which the present Texas governor insisted on personal freedom of choice, Abbott had stirred up anger from liberal voices when the strict abortion law came into effect earlier this month.
The new law—Texas Heartbeat Act—prohibits abortion after the fetus is six weeks old, typically when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. It is written in such a way that it will not be challenged in court right away.
“This whole abortion legislation has changed the dynamics incredibly,” said Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, according to the New York Times.
Referring to O’Rourke, Hinojosa said, “he’s been not just making pronouncements, he’s been out there knocking on doors, leading marches, setting up rallies all over the state.”
A campaign adviser to Abbott and a longtime Republican political consultant, David Carney was not surprised that O’Rourke would indeed go after the Texas governor seat.
“He is a target-rich environment with positions way, way out of the mainstream,” Carney said, adding he knew O’Rourke had been targeting the position ever since his presidential defeat.
O’Rourke, as a Democrat, is expected to challenge Abbott with his liberal political stance.
“I don’t know that we’re a red state. I don’t know that we’re a conservative state,” O’Rourke told The Guardian in July. “I don’t know that we’re a state that is focused on transgender girls’ sports, or telling people what to do with their bodies.”
“I think it is a minority really of the people and the voters in this state. It’s just the majority aren’t reflected because they aren’t voting,” he added.