Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.
Why it matters: O’Rourke’s entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.
- But he would be running in a complicated political environment. Immigration is surging at the southern border and Democrats at the national level are bracing for a brutal midterm election and potentially losing the House of Representatives in 2022.
- A new poll for the Dallas Morning News 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%.
- Over the summer, Abbot has seen his approval rating sink to 41%, with 50% disapproving, in a separate poll.
Driving the news: O’Rourke has been calling political allies to solicit their advice, leaving them with the impression that he’s made his decision to run in the country’s second-largest state.
- “No decision has been made,” said David Wysong, O’Rourke’s former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser. “He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state.”
I’ve been assuming that Beto would be running for Governor for some time now, so this is more of a relief and a “finally!” than anything else. That said, the lack of any deep-background, “sources say” stories of the “he’s thinking about it/he’s inching closer to it” variety were beginning to worry me. I suppose this could still end up not happening, but really, outlets like Axios don’t run this kind of story for things that wind up not happening. I feel pretty confident at this point.
So we move forward from here, which means “start the fundraising engines” and recruit the back end of the ticket. The narrative piece is in place, the rest is execution. I’m ready.