If he wins the Democratic nomination, O’Rourke would likely face off against Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott, a staunch conservative who has used his power to curtail voting rights, fight mask and vaccine mandates and ban abortion in the state.
According to Axios, O’Rourke intends to announce his candidacy later this year, but a longtime adviser and former chief of staff to O’Rourke when he was in Congress told the media outlet that “no decision has been made.”
“He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state,” David Wysong told Axios.
Since he lost a senate race to Republican Ted Cruz in 2018 by just over two percentage points and launched a failed presidential bid in 2020, O’Rourke has spent his time advocating for voting rights. He launched a political action committee focused on registering and turning out voters called Powered by People, and along with other activists, he led a voting rights march to the state’s capital city of Austin this summer, part of an effort to stop a voter suppression bill that Abbott later signed into law.
Beto’s chances aren’t looking bad, although he would likely face an uphill battle in the state that twice voted for President Trump. Abbott’s approval rating has recently fallen to 41 percent, with 50 percent disapproving. And according to a recent poll by The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler, O’Rourke only trails Abbott by five percentage points. When Texas voters were asked if they would vote for Abbott, O’Rourke or someone else, 37 percent of respondents said they would choose O’Rourke compared to 42 percent who said Abbott. That gap has narrowed significantly since earlier this summer when O’Rourke trailed Abbott by 12 points.
While O’Rourke has not publicly announced his intent to run, he has hinted at the possibility. In an interview with KXAN in June of this year, O’Rourke said he will consider a run after the Texas voting bill is defeated.
“If we can get this done,” O’Rourke said, referring to fighting the bill. “I’ll think about what other role I can play in public service whether that is as a candidate in 2022 or supporting great candidates in 2022. Our democracy is on the line.”