AUSTIN, Texas - Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, is considering throwing his hat in the ring for the 2022 Texas governor’s race.
"You know what, it's something I'm going to think about," he told Texas radio station KLAQ this week.
O’Rourke, best known for his contentious loss to Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 Senate race and subsequent campaign for president, said that Texas had "suffered perhaps more than any other" during the coronavirus pandemic and accused Gov. Greg Abbott of "complete indifference" to assisting local leaders in trying to save lives.
"I want to make sure that we have someone in the highest office in our state to make sure that all of us are okay," O’Rourke, 48, said. "Whether I'm a candidate for governor or I support someone who's a candidate for governor, I want to make sure that we have excellence in leadership and that excellence goes to every single part of the state, including ours."
Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) speaks during a campaign rally on October 17, 2019 in Grand Prairie, Texas. O'Rourke's Rally Against Fear was held to counter President Trump's campaign rally in Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
O’Rourke served Texas’ El Paso district in the U.S. House from 2013 to 2019. He declined to run again for the House in 2018 so that he could challenge Cruz’s Senate seat.
Abbott’s political strategist, Dave Carney, expressed delight at the idea of O'Rourke jumping into the race. "I certainly would love to run against him," Carney told Fox News on Thursday. "The guy couldn’t get elected dog catcher."
He also sought the presidency in the Democratic primary in 2019. When he initially jumped into the race, he polled over 10 percent by some counts. That trailed off to around 5 percent, even after the former House member tried to revive his campaign by lurching to the left on some issues and focusing harder on attacking President Trump.
Candidates for the Texas governor's race have until November of this year to file paperwork to appear on the ballot, and primaries are March 1, 2022.
Abbott, who’s already announced he would run again for a third four-year term, already has a $38 million war chest to fend off any challengers.
"We don’t take anything for granted," Carney told The Dallas Morning News two weeks ago. "There’ll be a general election opponent, and (Democrats) will put a lot of effort in and they’ll raise a lot of money."
If O’Rourke runs, he’s sure to build up an aggressive fundraising arm himself-- powered by a national funding base, he raised $79 million in the race against Cruz in 2018.
Cruz won by 2.6 percent of the vote, which was the closest a Democrat has come to winning a Texas Senate seat since the 1980s. The state hasn’t had a Democrat governor since 1995 when Ann Richards left office after losing her bid for re-election to President George W. Bush.
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Fox News' Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.