By: Joseph Warta
Former U.S. congressman, and unsuccessful U.S. Senate and presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke just announced his candidacy for Gov. of Texas.
O’Rourke, 49, is seeking to challenge incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott in 2022. But first, he must get past his first hurdle: the primary election in March of 2022.
Right now, there are only three candidates in the Democrat primary, and O’Rourke is the obvious favorite among them. He has a steep hill to climb if he is to succeed in the general election, though: he would be the first Democrat to lead the state since Ann Richards, who left office in 1995; Republicans have held the house, senate, and governorship since 2003; and Texas hasn’t voted for a Democrat in a presidential election since 1976.
Beto’s resume itself is spotty: he was on the El Paso City Council, then represented Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 to 2019. He first substantially rose to the national spotlight in 2018 in a neck-and-neck race against incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz for the seat he held in the U.S. Senate. But the race ended with O’Rourke losing to Cruz by about 2.5 percent. After that unsuccessful campaign, he shifted over to a presidential campaign in 2020, but dropped out early in the race after a poor showing and endorsed the eventual President Joe Biden.
O’Rourke made headlines during his unsuccessful presidential campaign as a staunch opponent to gun rights, famously declaring, “Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47," in response to a question about mandatory buybacks.
According to Fox News, O’Rourke’s position on gun bans is a new-found position. In 2018, while running against Ted Cruz, he was quoted saying: "If you own that gun, keep that gun. Nobody wants to take it away from you, at least I don't want to do that ... To be clear … if you purchased that AR-15, if you own it, keep it. Continue to use it responsibly." His position changed in the wake of the El Paso shooting in 2019, and it served him well on the Democratic presidential campaign trail. But groups of Democrats in the northeast are different than the entire State of Texas. If he came within 2.5 percent of winning the statewide race while still supporting the right to own an AR-15, things may play out differently while not only opposing them, but supporting confiscation of them, saying in 2019 that those who do not give up their firearms will have a “visit from law enforcement to recover that firearm.”
O’Rourke made gun bans a central issue of his campaign for president, and it appears it will be a significant part of his campaign for governor whether he wants it or not... Constitutional Carry was just passed in Texas, so guns are at the forefront of the 2022 campaign. Critics of O’Rourke, including his now-opponent, current Gov Greg Abbott, are eager to remind voters of the differences on gun rights between the candidates.
Gov. Abbott said Beto is “hostile to Texas,” adding, “He wants to go take your guns, and deny you your Second Amendment rights.”
In a statement to Gunpowder Magazine, TXGR executive director Chris McNutt made his organization’s position clear:
"There is no place in Texas for Beto's brand of Marxist anti-gun policies that would strip the right of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves and their families. Beto's Left Coast backers need to give up on him, he'll be a three-time loser."