AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Democrat Beto O’Rourke is running for governor of Texas, pursuing a blue breakthrough in America’s biggest red state after his star-making US Senate campaign in 2018 put him closer than anyone else in decades.

O’Rourke’s announcement on Monday kicks off a third run for office in as many election cycles. He burst into the 2020 Democratic presidential primary as a party phenomenon but dropped out just eight months later as money and fanfare dried up.

“It’s not going to be easy. But it is possible,” O’Rourke said in an interview with The Associated Press ahead of his announcement. “I do believe, very strongly, from listening to people in this state that they’re very unhappy with the direction that (Gov.) Greg Abbott has taken Texas.”

O’Rourke’s return sets up one of 2022’s highest-profile — and potentially most expensive — races for governor. Abbott, a Republican, is seeking a third term and has put Texas on the vanguard of hard-right policymaking in state capitals and emerged as a national figure. A challenge from O’Rourke, a media-savvy former congressman with a record of generating attention and cash, could tempt Democrats nationwide to pour millions of dollars into trying — again — to flip Texas.

Still, O’Rourke is coming back an underdog. Although the state’s growing population of Latino, young and college-educated voters is good for Democrats, the party’s spending blitz in the 2020 presidential election left them with nothing.

Texas has not elected a Democratic governor since Ann Richards in 1990. And freshly gerrymandered political maps, signed into law by Abbott in October, bolster Republicans’ standing in booming suburban districts that have been drifting away from the party. That could mean fewer competitive races and lower turnout.

O’Rourke, 49, will have to win over not only hundreds of thousands of new voters but some of his old ones. When O’Rourke lost to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 by just 2.5 percentage points, Abbott won reelection by double digits that same year, reflecting a large number of Texans who voted for O’Rourke and for the GOP governor.

That crossover appeal was a hallmark of a Senate campaign propelled by energetic rallies, ideological blurriness and unscripted livestreams on social media. But as a presidential candidate, O’Rourke molded himself into a liberal champion who called for slashing immigration enforcement and mandatory gun buybacks.

In one pronouncement heard far and wide in firearm-friendly Texas, O’Rourke declared: “Hell, yes, we’re gonna take your AR-15.”

Abbott has already begun working to make sure voters do not forget that and other stances O’Rourke took as a presidential candidate. As O’Rourke got in the race Monday, Abbott was on the US-Mexico border, where a longtime Democrat in the statehouse announced he was switching parties and joining the GOP.

(1) comment

Jimzan 2.0

Beto O’Rourke is a WOKE IDIOT...lol lol He is a loser to the core. Watch for Matthew Mcconaughey to enter the race.... Mcconaughey does not seem to be a WOKE Idiot...but neither did Arnold Schwarzenegger...Arnold was probably

just trying to kiss up to the Dems like Meg Whitman tried to do. That will cast a nice cowardice shadow over a person...Kinda like Liz Cheney, she "had" a good political career...now she will have to carpool with Mitt Romney (another loser) to the unemployment office. Never forget the weasels, and Cowardly Dirtbags.

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