Republican Don Huffines, a former state senator from Dallas who has sharply criticized Texas' handling of the pandemic, said Monday he will challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in 2022.
Huffines is a wealthy businessman who has spent the past year rallying with conservative activists around Texas, including outside the governor's mansion in October.
Abbott, who did not have a serious primary challenger in his first two campaigns for governor, has faced pressure from within his party over COVID-19 closures and a statewide mask mandate. The governor has also received plenty of criticism over the state's handling of the power crisis in February where millions were left without power during an unprecedented winter storm.
Lone Star Politics
Covering politics throughout the state of Texas.
Huffines, who served one term in the Senate before losing his seat in 2018 to Democrat Nathan Johnson, did not mention Abbott in his announcement.
"Plain and simple, our politicians aren't getting things done, and Texans have rightfully run out of patience," Huffines said.
In his statement, Huffines added that among his priorities were to finish former President Donald Trump's border wall, eliminate property taxes, and enforce voting laws.
During the 2017 legislative session, Huffines filed a bill to shut down Dallas County Schools, the financially troubled organization that spiraled into debt because of a side business started by using taxpayer money marketing school bus stop-arm cameras to other school districts across the state. Huffines worked with Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) who amended the bill to leave that decision up to the voters of Dallas County. The voters ultimately decided to shut down and dissolve the agency in November 2017.
Abbott reported having nearly $38 million in his campaign account in January, and his prolific fundraising has been a major obstacle for previous challengers.
A Democratic challenger to Abbott next year has yet to emerge, although former congressman Beto O'Rourke has not ruled out running. Actor Matthew McConaughey is also flirting with a run for governor.