Austin, Texas. –
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott won his third term on Tuesday night, beating Democrat Beto O’Rourke in a midterm race to test his direction. extreme red states of America after the Uvalde school massacre and a new strict abortion ban.
Victory underscored Abbott’s tenacity. Despite record spending in the race to the top of more than $200 million combined, O’Rourke risks a double-digit loss just four years after he was ousted from the US Senate closest to a party member. Texas Democrat for decades.
“Tonight, the Texans sent a very resounding message,” Abbott said during his victory speech in the southern border city of McAllen.
In rapidly changing Texas – where a booming 29 million people are becoming younger, less white and a magnet for big companies – Abbott remains the focal point for the GOP in the face of a challenger high and difficult. Abbott leverages anxiety about crime and inflation against a charismatic opponent who has jostled voters over mass shootings, abortion bans and deadly crashes of the state’s power grid. in 2021.
The results now place two of Texas’ biggest political figures – one already running for the White House, the other potentially aiming for a bid of his own – in diametrically opposite trajectories.
Abbott, 64, has cemented his place as a potential 2024 presidential candidate and secured his spot as the state’s second longest-serving governor. He has maximized executive power, managing an impressive $4 billion operation on the US-Mexico border in the name of restricting immigration, all while crushing challengers from his rights. and spend lavishly to sideline legislative critics.
He will remain supported by a solid GOP majority in the Legislature after a victory that resonated strongly with Hispanic voters in South Texas and captured economic worries and recession fears. quit. More than four in 10 Texas voters rank the economy as the most important issue facing the country, according to AP VoteCast, an extensive survey of nearly 3,400 voters.
Texas voters are divided on how Abbott is handling his job as governor, with nearly equal shares of approval and disapproval.
O’Rourke must now face whether it is time to move on.
It was his third failed campaign in four years, further dimming the once-bright future of the former congressman, who became a Democratic superstar after narrowly winning the race. into the U.S. Senate in 2018. Speaking to supporters in his hometown of El Paso after losing, O’Rourke didn’t quite say whether he would run again.
“I don’t know what my role and yours will be in the future, but I’m in this fight for my life,” he said.
The race revealed damage caused by his shooting in the 2019 Democratic presidential election as he had to answer for the freelance positions he took on the national stage that prompted the Texan he needed to win home. He also faced difficulties over President Joe Biden’s low approval rating, which Abbott exploited, running ads that combined O’Rourke and Biden’s faces and depicting the policies of they are the same.
O’Rourke tried to incite Democratic voters over the Uvalde shooting and Abbott signed a moratorium on abortion with no exceptions in cases of rape or incest.
Voters are sharply divided on abortion. Nearly equal proportions either support a law guaranteeing legal access to abortion nationwide or oppose it. But of the eight out of 10 voters who say legal abortion should be allowed if the pregnancy is due to rape or incest, they are split in support between Abbott and O’Rourke.
The stakes in the race, O’Rourke said, crystallized over the summer after a gunman entered Robb Elementary School in May and killed 19 children and two teachers. The shooting was one of the deadliest classroom attacks in US history and continues a grim series of mass shootings in Texas, where Abbott and Republicans have relaxed gun laws and eliminated background checks on concealed handguns.
The parents of some of the Uvalde victims rallied behind O’Rourke’s back and attacked Abbott during campaign events and television commercials. But even in Uvalde, Abbott comfortably shouldered the surrounding district with more than 60% of the vote.
If Abbott finishes another term in 2026, he will have 12 years as governor, second only to Rick Perry, who has been in office for 14 years.
They have overseen an era of explosive growth in Texas, which since 2010 has added nearly 4 million people, more than any other state. Hispanics accounted for half of that growth, fueling a demographic shift that Democrats have long believed would eventually turn Texas their way.
But Abbott, whose wife, Cecilia, was Texas’ first Hispanic first lady, sees no such political calculation on the horizon.
In Dallas, Danette Galvis, 48, voted for Abbott, saying she likes the job he’s doing. In her view, Abbott’s sending of migrants to other Democratic-led cities is “the message he’s trying to send, without doing too much harm to anything or anyone.” “.
“We are being attacked just because we are at the border,” Galvis said.
Associated Press writers Jake Bleiberg of Plano, Texas, and Terry Tang of Phoenix contributed to this report.