Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso became a national figure when he came within three points of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the race for Senate in 2018. He threw his hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination president in March 2019 and now there could be a race for Texas governor.
“For some time it’s been clear that Beto got the first call on running for governor, and I am hopeful that he will. I expect him to run for governor,” said Matt Angle, director of the progressive Lone Star Project.
For Democrats running for statewide office in Texas, it has been an uphill battle for years. A recent University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll showed Gov. Greg Abbott (R) nine points up on O’Rourke. Angle said he isn’t concerned about the poll now.
“We are more than a year away from the election, about a year away from the election, and there is a lot of time,” he said.
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Angle said Abbott has failed Texans, and there is time to lay out that case.
As for the Abbott camp, spokesperson Mark Miner said O’Rourke is wildly out of touch with Texans on policies, citing borders and police, adding, “If Beto does run, the contrast will be clear."
The battle over the war chest could be an expensive one to win. Abbott already has $55 million-plus in the bank, but he has a primary race. O’Rourke has shown he can raise money, smashing a record when he raised $80 million in his race against Cruz.
“What he has to do or be doing right now, is he has got to be putting together a campaign, hiring people developing his themes and beginning his fundraising. Lining up his first big donors so that he can come out of the gate really hard his only chance is to come out fast and run hard,” SMU political science professor Cal Jillson said.
The filing period ends on Dec. 13.