Only 14 days remain for Texans seeking the state’s highest office to officially file for the state’s gubernatorial primaries and so far at least six have announced their candidacies for governor in 2022. Candidates entering the race are looking to replace incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott, who on Nov. 23 filed to run for his third consecutive term as governor.
On Sunday, actor Matthew McConaughey officially ruled out a run for Abbott’s office next year after months of “measuring” the idea. The Oscar winner announced his decision in a three-minute video, adding that “political leadership” is a “path that I’m choosing not to take at this moment.”
With McConaughey standing down, the following are the candidates who have actually filed, or plan to file, for the Texas gubernatorial primary election on March 1, 2022.
Greg Abbott, Republican
Serving as attorney general of Texas from 2002 to 2015, Abbott, 63, defeated former state Sen. Wendy Davis in 2014 to win his first term as governor and won re-election over Democratic nominee Lupe Valdez. If he wins next year, the Republican leader will join former Gov. Rick Perry as the only Texas governors to win three four-year terms.
“I want you to know I am running for re-election to protect and secure our border,” Abbott said in an announcement video. “I’m running for re-election to support our police officers in the great state of Texas. And I am running to ensure that Texas remains a job-creation machine, leading the United States in the job opportunity. Working together, we will keep Texas the best state in the United States of America.”
Today I filed for re-election! pic.twitter.com/Do9GIJ9ESR
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) November 23, 2021
Abbott currently faces at least three challengers from his own party in the March 1 Republican primary.
Allen West, Republican
The ex-Florida congressman was elected in July 2020 as chairman of the Republican Party of Texas but resigned in June to run against Abbott. West, 60, wants to limit the governor’s use of emergency powers in light of Abbott shutting down businesses and mandating masks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Houston Chronicle . He has also criticized Abbott for his handling of the state electrical grid failure in February.
Don Huffines, Republican
Probably Abbott’s most vocal primary challenger, former state Sen. Don Huffines, 63, has frequently criticized Abbott in recent years for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and on border security. The Dallas native says he wants to finish the wall along the country’s southern border and eliminate property taxes. Patrick Svitek of the Texas Tribune posited in October that Huffines has pushed Abbott’s policy initiatives in a more conservative direction, though the governor’s campaign denies this.
Chad Prather, Republican
The conservative talk show host announced in July 2020 that he was running for governor amid the state shutting down due to the pandemic. Prather, 48, says he is in favor of pro-life legislation and wants to end all COVID-19 mandates and mask requirements. He has no previous election experience.
On the Democratic side, a handful candidates have announced in the hope of unseating the incumbent Republican. The highest profile of the bunch is former Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
Beto O’Rourke, Democrat
The former El Paso congressman officially launched his campaign for governor on November 15 after months of hinting at a potential run. O’Rourke is attempting a return to politics after a failed 2020 presidential run and losing bid for U.S. Senate against Ted Cruz in 2018. No Democrat has won the governorship in Texas since Ann Richards defeated Republican Clayton Williams in 1990.
A recent poll from the University of Texas at Austin and The Texas Tribune showed Abbott leading in a potential matchup with O’Rourke, with the support of 46 percent of voters compared to 37 percent polled who said they would vote for O’Rourke. Despite this, O’Rourke says he can beat Abbott.
“I’m confident that we can win. And it is not about the candidate, and not about my political party,” O’Rourke told the Dallas Morning News . “It is about Texas and the big things that we want to do, better jobs, world-class public schools, expanding Medicaid … we’re going to win because those are the things that Texans are focused on.”
O’Rourke faces at least two other Democrats running for governor as of this writing.
Deirdre Gilbert, Democrat
News outlets are pushing everyone out who they believe is running for Governor or who they think should run. They know I am out there but I’m not getting any kind of response back or mentions. #Imstillrunning pic.twitter.com/DSIRSJPffN
— Deirdre Gilbert (@gilbert4gov22) March 20, 2021
Deirdre Gilbert, 60, is an educator from the Houston area who has never held elected office but seeks to become the first Black woman to serve as governor of Texas — or any other state in the U.S. She is the only Democratic candidate who has officially filed so far. Gilbert says if elected, she plans to expand health care and invest in the state's education system.
Michael Cooper, Democrat
My name is Michael Cooper, a TEXAN. I am running for Governor of Texas to ensure Texas has a voice and a CHOICE. It’s time for us to to be #greatforgood . Democracy is at stake and Texas deserves a Governor that chooses Patriotism over Party. We are the USA. pic.twitter.com/Jvd1FOOMrE
— cooper4texasgovernor (@Cooper4txgov) September 13, 2021
Michael Cooper, president of the Beaumont NAACP, announced his bid for governor in February. He ran for lieutenant governor in 2018. If elected, Cooper said he plans to help Texas teachers and that education will be at the top of his list of priorities.
The deadline to file for the primaries or declare an independent candidacy is December 13. The Texas gubernatorial election will be held on Nov. 8, 2022.
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