Beto O’Rourke, the former U.S. congressman from Texas whose surprisingly close 2018 loss to Senator Ted Cruz made him a Democratic star, said on Monday he will challenge Republican Greg Abbott in next year’s race for governor of the state.
O’Rourke has been seen as his party’s best option for the 2022 gubernatorial race even after his bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination failed to garner much support amid a crowded field of candidates.
No Democrat has won a statewide race in Texas, the second most populous U.S. state, in three decades. Abbott, who is facing two Republican challengers as well, has amassed an enormous campaign war chest, with more than $55 million as of June.
O’Rourke has spent much of the past year criticizing Abbott for his handling of several crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic and a fierce winter storm that caused the state’s electric grid to fail and left hundreds of Texans dead.
In an announcement video, O’Rourke blamed the state’s Republican-controlled government for mishandling the storm and argued that it was symptomatic of a larger issue.
“Those in position of public trust have stopped listening to, serving and paying attention to and trusting the people of Texas,” O’Rourke said