Gov. Greg Abbott brands Beto O'Rourke as "Wrong Way O'Rourke" in a new campaign ad that criticizes the El Paso Democrat for his support of Black Lives Matter and efforts to defund the police.
For the record: O'Rourke hasn't actually said he's running for governor.
- Yes but: It looks increasingly like he will. O'Rourke recently called out Abbott's "anti-science, anti-public health order" that bans businesses from mandating vaccinations.
He's also been talking with Democratic operatives about a potential run, as Axios previously reported.
- Sources who work in Texas Democratic politics tell Axios that O'Rourke could declare for the race before the holidays — possibly with a first reveal to an El Paso news outlet.
⏰ With all the attention on a potential showdown, we're introducing a countdown clock to O'Rourke's entry into the race.
Flashback: A week-and-a-half ago, Abbott trotted out the "Wrong Way O'Rourke" barb in a low-budget ad that took aim at the former congressman on guns, immigration and the environment.
- Expect Abbott to put the soundbites included in these two ads on incessant repeat between now and Election Day.
What they're saying: "Texas is not a swing state because Democrats haven't exhibited an ability to win here, but high quality, well-funded candidates can obviously give Republicans a run for their money," Joshua Blank, research director at the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas, tells Axios.
- O'Rourke vs. Abbott, Blank said, "would be a competitive race."
💭 Asher's thought bubble: Even as Abbott has tacked yet further to the right on policy to fend off Republican primary opponents — on masks and vaccines, transgender kids and sports, and abortion — some of his money is going squarely at O'Rourke, whose name familiarity and cash-raising prowess might make him the biggest threat to Abbott's reelection.
Keep a close watch on the countdown