WASHINGTON — Former Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke said Friday he is running for governor of Texas in 2022, boosting the stature of an unabashed liberal as he explores a presidential run.
O’Rourke, who had been seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, will announce his gubernatorial campaign in his hometown of El Paso on Tuesday.
O’Rourke, who served three terms in Congress before winning his former seat back in 2016, has been lagging behind top Democratic politicians in polls as he runs for Senate against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
A centrist by Democratic standards, O’Rourke clashed with Democrats during his time in Congress.
He led the House Democrats’ budget task force in 2015, and over the past year he’s created a political action committee with his wife. O’Rourke’s PAC has been focused on a grass-roots effort to organize candidates for offices across the country who favor policies such as single-payer health care.
There are no shortage of potential Democratic candidates for governor in Texas, including Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke’s brother, Michael O’Rourke, and former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert.
O’Rourke has never held elected office outside Congress and had been working as an El Paso City Council member before winning his congressional seat in 2012. He said his current campaign will be focused on solving problems “not with slogans, but with solutions.”
“The people of Texas have much to give to this country,” O’Rourke said. “Through their votes, their votes for leaders, their voices in this moment, we are blessed to be living in a democracy that demands to be provided with a representative in charge of providing our solutions.”
Cruz has long been a favorite of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, and the challenge he faces in seeking a second term is not uncommon for a Republican senator in a swing state.