After weeks of rumors that he was ramping up for a challenge, former El Paso Congressman Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke formally announced his campaign for Texas governor on Monday morning.

In an attempt to appeal to moderate voters, O’Rourke accused Gov. Greg Abbott of focusing too heavily on “extremist policies around abortion and permit-less carry” and claimed that Texans care more about expanding Medicaid and legalizing marijuana. O’Rourke also used the February winter blackout as an opportunity to ridicule Abbott and encourage Texans to elect “better” leadership. 

Throughout his several attempted political campaigns over the past few years, O’Rourke has acquired millions of campaign dollars, thousands of donors, and plenty of name recognition. He has previously tried his hand at the Senate, challenging U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in 2018, as well as the Democratic presidential nomination. O’Rourke fell short on both occasions. 

In 2018, he gave Cruz a close call in the November election, a feat that reinvigorated the Democrat commitment to turning Texas blue. In the same year, Abbott won his second gubernatorial term, beating Dallas Democrat Lupe Valdez by more than 10 points. 

In 2020, O’Rourke briefly entered the Democrat nomination for the presidency before withdrawing and throwing his support behind current President Joe Biden. At the time, Biden claimed O’Rourke would be responsible for enacting the administration’s national firearm reform, leading to Robert’s infamous quote, “Hell yes, we’re gonna take your AR-15.” 

Abbott, with a war chest of more than $55 million, has begun to focus his attention on O’Rourke. In a tweet following the announcement, Abbott listed off some of O’Rourke’s liberal positions, following it with a challenge: “Bring it.”

Abbott will first have to win his own party’s nomination if he is to square off against O’Rourke. The three Republican gubernatorial candidates challenging Abbott shared their thoughts regarding O’Rourke’s announcement. 

Former State Sen. Don Huffines pulled no punches. “Beto O’Rourke is a radical Leftist whose views on abortion, gun rights, and just about everything else are outright hostile to the values of everyday Texans,” he said. 

Media personality Chad Prather criticized the Democrat candidate with his own signature flare:

Here comes the money from the liberal elites and Hollywood. O’Rourke wants your guns, your freedoms, and advocates for an open border and stricter mandates. Texas is in a crisis already. Having him on the ballot is a nightmare in every way.

Former Texas GOP Chair Allen West expressed he’s looking forward to opposing O’Rourke. “It’s gonna be a pleasure debating Robert Francis, not so much for him!” said West. “Texas doesn’t want, or need, an open borders, green new deal, anti-second amendment far left progressive socialist Governor.“

The primary election is currently slated for March 1, 2022. The general election will take place on November 8, 2022.

Griffin White

After graduating high school with an associates degree in fine arts, Griffin chose to seek experience in his field of interest rather than attend university. He describes himself as a patriotic Fort Worth native with a passion for cars and guitars. He is now a fellow for Texas Scorecard.