AUSTIN (KXAN) — A rather cryptic post Tuesday from the political group started by Beto O’Rourke teased an announcement from him is forthcoming, fanning the flames that the former El Paso Congressman may officially run for governor.
Powered by People, the political action committee created by O’Rourke ahead of the 2020 election, shared a message with supporters entitled “Be the first to know!” and asked them to sign up for an email alert. The post stated, “We’ve got something big to announce, and we want you to be a part of it.”
“Add your name, and make sure you’re the first to know what Beto is planning,” a tweet read.
O’Rourke narrowly lost the U.S. Senate race against Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, coming within two percentage points of the incumbent Republican. He then jumped into the crowded Democratic presidential primary in March 2019 before suspending his campaign about eight months later.
Speculation has been simmering lately that he may challenge Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, but he has yet to announce a run for the state’s top elected position. However, O’Rourke said publicly this summer that he is considering running for governor.
Mark Miner, the communications director for the governor’s reelection campaign, released a statement Tuesday in response to O’Rourke’s organization hinting about an announcement.
“From his aggressive support for defunding the police to his pro-open border policies, Beto O’Rourke has demonstrated he is wildly out of touch with Texans,” Miner said. “Governor Abbott proudly supports the men and women of law enforcement, he has deployed National Guard and Department of Public Safety personnel and resources to secure the border and has created a business climate in Texas that makes our state one of the nation’s leaders in job creation. If Beto does run, the contrast will be clear.”
Texas Republicans have long prepared for a fight against O’Rourke. In September, the Republican Governors Association sent out a statement and offered up bullet points criticizing O’Rourke for his stances on issues including border security and guns during his 2020 bid for the White House.
A recent poll released by the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation showed Abbott and O’Rourke virtually tied in a potential head-to-head matchup. The results found that 43% of registered voters said they’d vote for Abbott, while 42% said they’d vote for O’Rourke. However, another poll published at the end of last week by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune showed Abbott with a comfortable, nine-point advantage over O’Rourke among the voters they asked.
While no major candidate has yet to enter the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Texas, Abbott is facing several challengers in the Republican contest next year. Don Huffines, the former state senator from Dallas, launched an effort to unseat Abbott earlier this year. A couple of months later, Allen West, the former Texas GOP chair, announced his campaign for the Republican nomination, too.
Abbott’s reelection bid already has the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, who remains popular with the Republican base. The governor announced this summer that his campaign also has $55 million in the bank, adding that he raised more than $18.7 million during the last 10 days of June.
It also remains unclear at this time whether actor Matthew McConaughey will ultimately follow through with all the hints he’s dropped this year that he may run for Texas governor, too.