On Monday, former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke announced his candidacy for governor of Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott was quick to pull out the usual Republican talking points about socialism and gun control, two things Beto O’Rourke is absolutely not running on. For many, Beto’s announcement may bring flashbacks to 2018, but this time he has an even better shot at delivering a statewide victory for Democrats.
For the past two decades, Texas Republicans have controlled the state government, easily beating Democratic candidates up and down the ballot with little effort. Those days are behind us. In 2018, we saw how close we can get to unseating Republicans in statewide races. Four years later, Texas has millions of more voters, and Abbott is worried. Gone are the days of minimal Republican spending on statewide elections, Greg Abbott is gonna put his war chest (funded by the same business interests that let us down during the winter storm) to good use.
Beto’s entrance into this race has given Democrats the opportunity to defeat an increasingly divisive and unpopular governor. He is a relatively well-liked political figure, with the know-how to energize voters and volunteers. Beto and his massive volunteer army can mobilize to sway apathetic voters, and former Republicans over to our side.
Just look at Abbott’s latest approval ratings, most Texans disapprove of his job performance, especially around his handling of COVID-19 and the winter storm. Texans haven’t forgotten about how the state government left us to fend for ourselves during the worst winter storm in a generation. Texans haven’t forgotten how the state government put students, essential workers, and public employees at-risk by banning popular common-sense vaccine and mask mandates.
Greg Abbott abandoned his role as the caretaker of Texas long ago, but now voters have had an opportunity to see just how far the Texas Republicans have fallen to maintain power by any means necessary. Even if it means pandering to a vocal minority opposed to common-sense public health measures, at the detriment to the health and safety of Texans.
Those of us who lost loved ones to COVID-19 and the winter storm won’t forget the way Abbott and Texas Republicans let us down, and neither should Texas voters. 2022 will be a year for Texans to fight back against an increasingly extremist and divisive state government. And Beto offers us a real chance to build a better Texas for everyone.