How Republicans are already taking aim at Beto O’Rourke ahead of a possible run for governor

Texas Politics

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas primary elections are now roughly six months away, and despite the lack of a big-name Democratic candidate in the running, it appears Republicans are betting on Beto.

As KXAN has reported, the former congressman from El Paso has hinted at a possible run for the Texas governor’s mansion.

The Republican Governors Association released a statement Thursday morning titled, ‘Let Me Introduce You to the Latest Beto.’ The group offered up bullet points criticizing O’Rourke for his leftist stance on issues including border security and guns during his 2020 bid for the White House.

“The version of Beto O’Rourke that would run for Governor today is a very different and drastically more radical candidate than the last one Texans saw on their ballots,” RGA spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez said in the statement.

“An O’Rourke gubernatorial campaign will be nothing more than a money grab and vain attempt to stay relevant after running out of promotions to chase in Washington,” Rodriguez added.

O’Rourke first ran for statewide office in 2018, coming within striking distance of Republican Senator Ted Cruz. He then launched a highly publicized presidential campaign before ultimately throwing his support behind President Joe Biden.

O’Rourke has since remained a vocal opponent of the GOP’s agenda in the recent Texas legislative session and subsequent special sessions, most recently attacking changes to the state’s election laws.

KXAN spoke with Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa, who said he would welcome O’Rourke as a gubernatorial contender.

“Beto has been able to excite the base of the Democratic Party,” Hinojosa said, adding he believes it’s Governor Greg Abbott who has changed in an attempt to appease the edges of his base.

“It appears Mr. Abbott is more intent on being the governor for the far right-wing fringe of the Republican Party,” Hinojosa said.

Abbott is seeking his third term and will enter his primary challenge with a sizeable war chest ($55 million as of July, according to his campaign), but also with a recent dip in his approval rating.

KXAN has reached out to O’Rourke’s camp for comment on the RGA’s statement as well as whether he plans to make any official announcement any time soon.

The primary elections are slated for March 1.

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