Start the Race for Governor of TX

The Texas gubernatorial race began this weekend when Governor Greg Abbott and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke returned to campaign at the US-Mexico border.

Abbott formally announced his candidacy for a third term in the border town of McLane, saying he was running “to keep Texas on the right track.”

Minutes earlier, O’Rourke was back in his hometown of El Paso, accusing Abbott of not listening to border communities like him.

During Abbott’s nearly half-hour speech at MacLean, he focused on issues including taxes, education and law enforcement.

The governor avoided some of the most dramatic chapters in his second term, including the coronavirus pandemic and power grid failure after February’s winter storms. While Abbott did not mention O’Rourke by name, he made some explicit references to him and widely attacked the Democrats.

“We cannot allow liberals in large governments to redesign their state with a progressive agenda that is destroying parts of America,” Abbott said. “We need a proven winner who will fight to secure the future of Texas. That’s why I’m in the Rio Grande Valley today to officially announce my re-election.”

Abbott spoke at his campaign’s Hispanic Leadership Summit, a remarkable setting in which Republicans set ambitious plans for 2022 in South Texas.

President Joe Biden did poorly last year in a predominantly Hispanic and traditionally Democratic field. Abbott, who received 44 percent and 42 percent of the Hispanic vote in his last two campaigns, according to exit polls, has made it clear that he wants to win the Hispanic vote in his re-election bid.

In promoting his two terms in office, Abbott criticized Biden, saying he hasn’t done enough to secure the border.

The governor said that, under his leadership, Texas “responded with the strongest border security efforts of any state in the history of the United States.” This includes Texas’ own border wall, construction of which began last month, and the deployment of thousands of National Guard troops to the border.

These events marked the start of an election year in Texas specifically for Abbott. He is launching a statewide media campaign, and has promised to appear at 60 events before the March 1 primary.

Both Abbott and O’Rourke must pass that primary before they can meet.

O’Rourke faces at least the primary opposition, while Abbott has a set of rivals that have been troubling him from the right for months.

While polls have shown him in a comfortable position to march, Abbott has spent the past year firmly moving the state to the right by defending laws that, for example, allow weapons to be carried without permission. Allowing and implementing preventive abortion measures.

Those laws have been at the center of O’Rourke’s case against Abbott, along with the COVID-19 pandemic and the network failure that left millions of Texans and has been linked to 246 deaths.

Abbott, who has expressed confidence that lawmakers have done enough to prevent another network collapse, did not address the issue in his MacLaine speech. He mentioned COVID-19 twice, but focused primarily on laws he pushed to prevent government officials from closing churches during emergencies and to provide liability protection for businesses operating during the pandemic. Gave.

Abbott sought a distinction with O’Rourke by promoting a law for carrying arms without permission, which proponents call “constitutional carrying”.

“While some have threatened to come and take their guns, I signed more than 20 laws to protect their Second Amendment rights, including making Texas a ‘constitutional right’ state,” Abbott said.

As the 2020 presidential candidate, O’Rourke promised during a debate that “yeah, we’re going to have his AR-15, his AK-47.” At the time, he was promoting a mandatory assault weapons buyback, which he proposed targeting Hispanics in response to the 2019 El Paso Walmart massacre. O’Rourke has backed that proposal in his current campaign.

(Patrick Switek/The Texas Tribune/Erin Douglas contributed reporting.)