Former Texas congressman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke is on the verge of announcing that he will run against incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in the 2022 midterm.

According to Axios, O’Rourke has already begun reaching out to determine the level of interest in him squaring off against Abbott:

O’Rourke has been calling political allies to solicit their advice, leaving them with the impression that he’s made his decision to run in the country’s second-largest state.

“No decision has been made,” said David Wysong, O’Rourke’s former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser. “He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state.”

An O’Rourke-Abbott race would also put three of the most contentious national issues — COVID-19, abortion, and immigration — directly in the spotlight and could further erode Abbott’s support, which has been slipping in recent months due to the way he’s handled the pandemic, which is ravaging the state:

  • Abbott championed a law, which the Supreme Court declined to strike down, to criminalize abortions six weeks after conception, enraging progressive activists and potentially suburban women.
  • He has also stoked cultural divides on COVID-19 and used executive action to try and prevent local jurisdictions from imposing mandates for masks or vaccines.
  • On the border, Abbott has called for six points of entry in Texas to be closed and has blamed the Biden administration for the growing humanitarian crisis in Del Rio, where thousands of migrants are seeking shelter underneath a bridge.

Gilberto Hinojosa, state chair of the Democratic Party, said he’s all-in on the possibility of O’Rourke running:

“We hope that he’s going to run,” Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. “We think he’ll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott, because he’s vulnerable.

“His prohibition against mask and vaccination mandates have not gone over well with Texans,” Hinojosa said. “And with the abortion law, Republicans have raised the anger level of Texas women higher than anyone has ever seen before.”

O’Rourke last ran for statewide office in 2018, when he narrowly lost to Sen. Ted Cruz by a margin of 215,000 votes.

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