Greg Abbott beats Beto O'Rourke for third term as Texas governor
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott secured a third term Tuesday, defeating Democrat Beto O’Rourke, per the Associated Press.
Why it matters: The victory sets up Abbott for a 2024 presidential run, although he has not said whether he wants to pursue the White House.
- And the win solidifies at least another four years for the powerful governor, who continues to hold sweeping authority in the state under a COVID-19 emergency disaster declaration, despite his decision to reopen businesses at full capacity more than one year ago.
Between the lines: O’Rourke appeared to pick up steam as he campaigned for abortion rights and gun control, but with a motto of "Securing the Future of Texas," Abbott rode fears over immigration and border security to victory.
- Operating in a nationally inhospitable political environment for Democrats and doomed by a famous pronouncement in his failed 2020 presidential run to take away assault rifles, O'Rourke had trouble gaining the kind of traction he had in 2018, as an upstart challenger to Sen. Ted Cruz.
Meanwhile: The results are yet another sign that Democrats face a long, uphill battle to be competitive statewide. The party hasn't won a statewide race since 1994.
Flashback: Early polls showed O’Rourke narrowing the gap but with just weeks until the election, the numbers widened to double digits.
What's next: Expect Abbott to continue to pour money into border security, look for ways to cut budgets as economic unrest persists and steer state money toward school voucher programs, per his campaign pledges. But whether he'd sign into law any rape or incest exception to Texas' near-total abortion ban is a question he has avoided answering.
- O'Rourke's political future is in doubt, after three high-profile losses in a row.
The bottom line: Abbott's next term may be shaped by what he wants to do next, including a potential appeal to national Republican primary voters.