State Rep. Rafael Anchía has long been considered a rising star amongst Texas Democrats. Various publications have called him “one to watch outside the beltway,” “the Hispanic Obama,” and even “El Gobernador”. Yet for all the buzz around him, Anchía has so far declined to pursue higher office, instead opting to continue representing his Dallas-area district in the Texas House for over 16 years.
Perhaps Anchía was prudent to avoid statewide races. After all, talented Democratic candidates like Wendy Davis and Beto O’Rourke tried and failed. Yet the political landscape has shifted in Texas, so Anchía should take a serious look at running for governor. 2022 could be the year Anchía finally has his rendezvous with destiny.
Anchía’s previous reluctance to run for higher office could actually benefit him. Americans want reluctant politicians, it’s a tradition that goes all the way back to George Washington. Obvious ladder-climbers are frowned upon and one of the great paradoxes of American politics is that candidates must be incredibly ambitious yet cannot be perceived as such. Hence politicians go through the song and dance of saying things like “I have no plans to run” right before they announce that they’re running.
Like many potential candidates with skills and talent, Anchía was always dismissive whenever asked about plans to run for something bigger. But in his case, it wasn’t just rhetoric. People have been talking about Anchía as a potential candidate for senator or governor for over a decade, yet that entire time he chose to continue serving his district. Should Anchía finally throw his hat in the ring, he can paint himself as a candidate who is running not out of personal ambition but a sense of duty. Given Texas GOP’s string of debacles, like the recent winter storm and subsequent blackouts, Anchía can reasonably claim that he now feels compelled to finally save the state from the clutches of Greg Abbott.
It’s also not hard to see why there was so much speculation about Anchía as a statewide candidate. The son of immigrants, his life is a classic American success story. Anchía has also developed a reputation as a sharp and effective debater. If you don’t think he has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with Abbott, just watch this viral moment where he grilled Briscoe Cain on voting rights.
Anchía might not have the same name recognition as some other candidates, but there’s plenty of time to build it. Few knew who Beto O’Rourke was until he ran for senate. With a candidate of Anchía’s caliber, Democrats can definitely get the word out if they play their cards right. And since he’s relatively unknown to most Texas voters, Democrats have the opportunity to craft Anchía’s statewide brand for voters in a way they can’t for more well-known but already defined candidates.
Beyond his political strengths, Anchía has the qualifications for the job. As a long-time state representative currently serving his ninth term, he knows how the Texas legislature works. At the end of the day, the governor will have to go through the House and Senate to get bills passed into law. You need a governor who knows how the sausage is made and few potential candidates have the kind of experience in this area that Anchía brings to the table.
Education is an area where Anchía could particularly shine. The son of a public school teacher, Anchía started his political career when he was elected to the DISD Board of Trustees in 2001. As a member of the House, he’s been a vocal opponent of Republican cuts to public education With Texas consistently ranking low in education, Anchía could leverage his education policy chops to both take down Abbott in the election and fix Texas’ public schools as governor.
Anchía may not be the most high-profile candidate that Democrats could field in 2022, after all the list includes names like Beto O’Rourke and Matthew McConaughey. But he does have the resume and the charisma to be a strong candidate for governor, and it’s not hard to imagine him exploding onto the scene in 2022. Pundits have long felt that Anchía was destined for bigger and better things, and perhaps it’s time that he fulfilled that destiny.