AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Governor Greg Abbott is taking new and very public aim at his new rival for the governorship, in addition to President Joe Biden.
Earlier this week, Abbott’s campaign revealed photos of recently placed billboards labeling current gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke as “Wrong for Texas” and Biden as “Wrong for America.”
In the days since O’Rourke announced his official run for Texas Governor in 2022, Abbott has honed in on O’Rourke criticisms, in addition to what he sees as corollaries between O’Rourke and the president.
Abbott’s campaign released a statement Monday, saying in part: “From Beto O’Rourke’s reckless calls to defund the police to his dangerous support of the Biden Administration’s pro-open border policies, which have resulted in thousands of fentanyl deaths, Beto O’Rourke has demonstrated he has more in common with President Biden than he does with Texans…. The last thing Texans need is President Biden’s radical liberal agenda coming to Texas under the guise of Beto O’Rourke. The contrast for the direction of Texas couldn’t be clearer.”
During a trip to border town Mission this week, O’Rourke, a resident of El Paso, said earlier this week that the Texas-Mexico border is of particular importance to him. He skipped a trip to the border wall, however, which he opposes and says Abbott uses for “photo ops.”
O’Rourke hasn’t tiptoed around his feelings for Abbott, either.
“I think there’s no shortage of reasons for people to fire Greg Abbott as governor,” said O’Rourke on Monday. “In fact, they grow by the day, and when we could look at 72,000 lives lost in Texas by his failure to meet the challenges of this COVID pandemic, or the hundreds who were killed in a winter storm, not because of mother nature, but because of Greg Abbott and his failure to make sure that the power grid was working for all Texans.”
Since February’s deadly winter storm, Abbott has faced international scrutiny for his ban on COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates, for signing into law an abortion ban after six weeks of pregnancy, and for the failure of Texas’ power grid by ERCOT, which left millions without heating in freezing temperatures for days.
Back in September, polling by the Texas Politics Project showed incumbent Abbott is at his most unpopular, with a majority saying Texas is going in the wrong direction.
Regardless of attacks from Abbott, however, the O’Rourke campaign’s off to a promising start, with the campaign announcing it raised $2 million in the first 24 hours of his gubernatorial run. The organization said the tally was a 24-hour record for any Democratic gubernatorial candidate and the most raised by any campaign in 24 hours so far this year.
Abbott’s campaign isn’t slacking, either. Texans for Abbott says it collected nearly $5 million between Sept. 7 and Oct. 19 — donations from all 50 states, though 85% came from Texans, the campaign reports.
Just over two weeks ago, a poll by the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation found 43% of registered voters said they’d vote for Abbott, and 42% said they’d vote for O’Rourke — even though he’d yet to make an official announcement at that time. While he hasn’t held public office since 2019, O’Rourke, 49, has remained among Texas’ biggest political stars.
Texas for Greg Abbott says the billboard will appear in cities across the state.