O’Rourke Candidacy May Not Reap Reward Against Abbott


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Beto O’Rourke speaks at a rally for voter registration in front of the Texas State Capitol in Austin. O’Rourke recently announced his bid for the Governor’s Mansion on November 15.

Aaron Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief

November 15, 2021, prominent Texas politician Beto O’Rourke announced his bid for the 2022 Texas Gubernatorial election. O’Rourke, most well-known for his senatorial campaign against incumbent Ted Cruz, has become a poster child for left-wing politics in conservative Texas. Although he is the most well-known Democrat currently in the running, O’Rourke is not likely to defeat incumbent governor, Greg Abbott.

To say O’Rourke is unqualified to hold an office such as the Governor of Texas would be unreasonable, with twelve years of experience both in local and federal government, serving on the El Paso City Council from 2005 to 2011, and representing Texas’s 16th Congressional District from 2013 to 2019. In addition, O’Rourke supports many policies that Texans have been wanting for decades such as the legalization of marijuana, reforming Texas’s criminal justice system, and refined gun laws. The Texas Politics Project report from June 2021 agrees with Beto’s docket with 80% of Democrats and 38% of Republicans in Texas “strongly supporting background checks for all gun purchases.” As for the legalization of marijuana, TPP reports that 31% of Texans believe “possession of small amounts of marijuana for any purpose should be legal.”

Beto, a relatively unknown face in Texas politics at the time of his senatorial election, was quick to announce his campaign for incumbent Cruz’s seat. At the time, the nation was two years into a controversial Trump Administration, and many were frustrated with the Republican majority in the US House and Senate. O’Rourke mobilized across the state, gaining support from young Texans and former Republicans alike, smashing fundraising records never before seen in Texas politics.

Today, Democrats have control of Congress and the presidency, and with the Biden Administration’s mediocre approval ratings, Governor Abbott has been pushing an increasingly conservative agenda in Texas, almost in juxtaposition of the federal government’s agenda. While many liberal Texans look for political relief, the current situation appears to keep conservative Texas voters ignited.

Similar to the 2020 Democratic primaries, O’Rourke is too left-wing to beat Abbott in the 2022 gubernatorial election. Faces like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren were ready to shake up the Democratic platform, and truly make the party more progressive than ever before. However, the right choice ended up being moderate Joe Biden. O’Rourke’s agenda, while reasonably popular across the state, is just liberal enough to stoke the fire of many conservatives across the state. While many scholars and politicians believe that a blue Texas will return soon, the party needs to choose a nominee liberal enough to make an effective change in the state politically, but moderate enough to make bipartisanship an option in a historically Republican-dominated state.