The former El Paso congressman received national fame when he challenged Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 and came within three percentage points from unseating the incumbent senator.
In 2019, O’Rourke launched an unsuccessful presidential campaign in the crowded Democratic primary and shortly after returned to Texas to create Powered by People, a voter registration and civic engagement group.
Since then, rumors have swirled as to whether O’Rourke would jump into the governor’s race to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott.
In May, the Associated Press reported that the El Pasoan was mulling over a run for governor, but O’Rourke made no commitments and told media he was focused on registering voters instead.
In the Spring, O’Rourke toured the state in a series of rallies (which set off even more rumors), where he registered voters and sounded the alarm on voter suppression in the legislature.
No other Democrats have publicly announced a run for governor, although things are in full swing on the GOP ticket as Abbott fends off two Republican challengers to his right, former Texas GOP Chair Allen West and former state Sen. Don Huffines.
The incumbent governor is sitting atop a $55 million war chest, which while intimidating, is not insurmountable to a candidate like O’Rourke who raised $80 million in his bid to unseat Cruz.
The filing deadline to run in Texas is in December, so it’s still possible though unlikely another Democrat besides O’Rourke jumps in the race too.
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org