Greg Abbott and Beto O’Rourke tweak tactics for likely Texas governor election battle

The contest for governor of Texas is still over 11 months away, but incumbent Republican President Greg Abbott and Democratic Party challenger Beto O’Rourke previewed how they will face each other in what will be the flagship race of the season. midterm elections 2022.

O’Rourke has been running for governor for a week. Meanwhile, he hammered on Abbott for his handling of last February’s winter storm that left millions of Texans without power and in the cold and dark. His message: Texas can do better.

For his part, Abbott presents O’Rourke as a career candidate who, if elected governor, would spoil Texas as the country’s economic haven by adopting ultraliberal policies related to border security, taxes and control. firearms. He portrayed O’Rourke as a clone of President Joe Biden.

The two men were on message. And we’ll see if other issues emerge eventually.

At the end of the first week of the O’Rourke campaign, the last Dallas Morning News /A UT-Tyler poll of registered voters in Texas found the El Paso Democrat following Abbott by six percentage points in a one-on-one clash. As Abbott’s approval rating rebounded from a September poll, they were divided over how he handled crises (45% to 44%), which could leave an opening for O’Rourke .

“It’s a bit like a football game. The coach comes out and they pre-plan the first 10 games, ”Republican political consultant Vinny Minchillo said. “The best hit on Abbott is the winter storm. He’s really taken a lot of damage because of it, and Beto wants to make him a Donald Trump clone. The other way around, Abbott is going to try to reattach Beto to Biden, and you can see the people at Beto are working really hard to try to keep Biden at bay.

Abbott, who faces a main GOP challenge in March that includes former State Senator Donald Huffines of Dallas and former Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West de Garland, was ready to pounce on O ‘ Rourke.

After O’Rourke begins his challenge, Abbott’s re-election team announces a poster advertising campaign. They feature images of O’Rourke behind the title “Wrong for Texas” and images of Biden behind “Wrong for America”.

“As Beto O’Rourke begins his campaign to reinvent himself, he will not be able to run away from his extreme liberal policies which are bad for Texas,” said Mark Miner, Abbott’s communications director. “The Beto-Biden agenda of opening the borders, funding the police, and cutting jobs in the oil and gas industry is divisive and will take Texas in the wrong direction.”

Abbott hopes to be propelled not only by his campaign, but also by national headwinds that could hamper O’Rourke’s efforts. Historically, the party that controls the White House suffers significant losses in the midterm elections. Biden is already grappling with sagging poll numbers and is unpopular with Republicans in Texas. O’Rourke has to poach some Republicans and Abbott independents to win in November.

At an event in Wilson County where Abbott hosted Democratic state representative Ryan Guillen to the Republican Party, the governor specifically challenged O’Rourke’s positions on guns, the border and fuels fossils and linked it to Biden and New York Liberal Representative Alexandria. Ocasio-Cortez.

“If you look at issue after issue after issue that Beto campaigned on for the presidency of the United States, they weren’t just at odds with the Texans, they were hostile to the Texans,” Abbott said. “But worst of all, very deeply during his campaign for the presidency, he showed that he was really not so much a Democrat as a socialist. He is part of the Ocasio-Cortez wing of the Democratic Party.

O’Rourke hopes to compliment a strong campaign organization with a message that resonates with many voters in Texas. Late summer and fall polls show many Texans believe the state is headed in the wrong direction.

The winter storm, although in the rearview mirror for the most part, has put a dent in the typically Indomitable Abbott, according to polls.

That’s why O’Rourke mentioned the storm at every campaign stop this week, including a Sunday event at Fair Park.

“What we really want our governor to focus on is making sure the power grid is working, so it doesn’t go down like it did last February, when millions of people lost power. and, according to some reports, over 700 Texans have lost their lives, “O’Rourke said The morning news from Dallas Last week. “We want our governor to focus on the things that are most important to us, the education of our children, the kind of work we can hope for and our ability to be healthy to pursue what is most important. for us in our life. “

O’Rourke has also attempted to turn his own potential liabilities, including his support for confiscating assault-type weapons like the AR-15, into criticism of Abbott and the new Texas law that allows most people to carry a weapon without a license.

“As governor, I want to make sure that we support law enforcement to prioritize stopping and solving these types of violent crimes, and to make sure we don’t pursue extremist policies. that make us less secure, such as transport without a license “, O’Rourke Told The news.

A week of spades between Abbott and O’Rourke was not good for Huffines and West. They were largely excluded from the conversation, except among their supporters. Abbott’s first growl with O’Rourke isn’t just a harbinger of what’s to come, but a way to dampen the momentum of his rivals in the GOP Primary.

“It’s really bad news, not that they ever had a chance, for Don Huffines and Allen West,” Minchillo said. “Beto / Abbott action is taking all the oxygen out of the room. Abbott is as right as he has to be. Now he could turn his guns on Beto and it’s a great game for him.

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