News & Politics

A Third Loss in Four Years? Beto O'Rourke Preparing to Run for Texas Governor

AP Photo/Andres Leighton

Remember Robert “Beto” O’Rourke? He wants to make certain we do.

The perennial loser is likely running for Texas governor. It would be the former El Paso congressman’s third major campaign in four years.

O’Rourke’s entry potentially is good news for Republicans across the country, since millions of Democrat donor dollars will be funneled to his campaign (just like in 2018, when he raised $80 million) instead of elsewhere.

“After a summer of uncertainty, Democrats are feeling better about the prospect of former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke challenging incumbent Republican Greg Abbott for governor,” reported the Dallas Morning News, which also released a poll showing O’Rourke has closed the gap with Governor Greg Abbott in a hypothetical matchup to five points after facing a 12-point deficit in July.

The flamboyant 48-year-old politician ran unsuccessfully in 2018 against incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, then made a disastrous 2020 presidential bid, suspending his campaign for several months before the Iowa caucuses.

His presidential run exposed aberrant stances that could hurt him in Texas, including a pledge to confiscate assault-style weapons, radical immigration proposals, and hard-left positions on social issues. To oust Abbott, O’Rourke would need to moderate his views.

“O’Rourke will have to come up with a second statewide act if he runs for governor,” Dallas-based political writer Gromer Jeffers wrote Sunday. “Challenging Abbott is far different than his tussle with Cruz, the race that made him a household name in Texas.”

Democrats hoped Texas might turn blue last presidential election for the first time since 1976, but then-President Donald Trump won the state by over 600,000 votes. Republican Sen. John Cornyn prevailed by 10 points in his race. Democrats have not won a U.S. Senate seat in nearly three decades or the Texas governor’s office in a quarter-century.

While Republicans easily maintained control of the Lone Star State by holding majorities in the House and Senate, Abbott has triggered the left over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, an election security bill, and recent strong pro-life legislation.

But O’Rourke would also run at a time when illegal immigration is rampant at the Texas border. Democrats already face difficult midterm elections; losing the House of Representatives next year is quite likely.

President Joe Biden’s approval rating in Texas barely reaches 40 percent, with only 29 percent approving of his management of the southern border.

Abbott has blamed the Biden administration for the enormous humanitarian crisis in Del Rio, where more than 10,000 would-be migrants — huddled in squalid conditions under the international bridge — are overwhelming the U.S. Border Patrol’s ability to process them.

Texas recently needed to compensate for Washington’s dereliction, allotting nearly $2 billion to deter crime, human trafficking, drug smuggling, and more.

O’Rourke has never shown serious interest in border security and is left of most Democrats on the issue.

“We hope that he’s going to run,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa told Axios this weekend. “We think he’ll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott, because he’s vulnerable.”

A haughty white man of privilege pushing far-left policies in a red state may actually be more vulnerable.

Related: Texas Women Lead the Pro-Life Movement