Beto O’Rourke kicked off his campaign in Fair Park on Sunday after announcing his candidacy for governor last Monday. He is seeking to be the first Democrat in three decades to win a statewide race in Texas.
O’Rourke ran for president in 2020 but ultimately failed to gain any traction after previously losing to Ted Cruz in a battle for the U.S. Senate in 2018.
The event at Fair Park on Sunday had a turnout of more than 1,500 people.
“What I’m hearing from people is we’ve got to get past labels and the differences that would otherwise divide us, including of party,” he said during the rally. “We can’t run this race for Democrats. We can’t run this race for Republicans. We’ve got to run this race for Texans because what we see is that when we are divided and polarized and unable to find common ground, we don’t make the progress that’s important to us.”
Gov. Abbott leads O’Rourke 45-39% in approval ratings according to a poll. The poll also shows that 37% of Democrats favor O’Rourke while 43% have an unfavorable view of him. With Independents, O’Rourke has a 28% favorable rating and a 44% unfavorable rating.
“Who knows with these polls, right?” O’Rourke said when asked what he would do to try and fix this to gain more Independents and possibly Republicans. “If it is not about the candidate and not about my political party but instead about Texas and the big things we want to do, better jobs, world-class schools, expanding Medicaid so everyone can see a doctor, we are going to win.”
While he cannot use any money from his Congressional campaign fund, O’Rourke raised $2,015,885 in the first 24 hours of announcing his campaign last Monday. The campaign said this comes from more than 20,000 donors.
According to O’Rourke spokesman Abhi Rahman, it’s more than any Democrat running for governor has raised in the first day nationwide. Of these donors, 57% are Texas residents.
“It was an extremely lackluster campaign announcement,” said Abbott spokesman Mark Miner. “He’s already trying to reinvent himself and run from his open-border and defund-the-police policies.” As of June 30, 2021, Gov. Abbott had $55.1 million in his campaign account but has not since filed a campaign finance report for the year’s third special legislative session.
O’Rourke is continuing his Texas tour and will hold events in Rio Grande Valley, Corpus Christi, and Houston on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, respectively.