On November 15th of 2021, former presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke announced his bid for the Texas governor seat, running against the incumbent governor Greg Abbott. Abbott’s been a significant figure in the Trump era conservatism, mainly serving a pro-life, pro-gun, anti-immigration platform.
Texas hosts the second biggest population in the US, and shares the largest land border with Mexico compared to any American state; its seat for governor is a vital strategic position for Democrats as its effects would be felt throughout the country and would serve to de-platform one of the biggest proponents of Trumpism.
Issue 1, Reproductive Freedom:
With the overturning of Roe, abortion is almost dissolved within Texas, with exceptions only allotted to those whose lives may be threatened by carrying on the pregnancy.
Abbott: Although his platform advocates for a pro-life view, he is more so pro-birth, disregarding the effects becoming pregnant as a product of sexual assualt or incest could have on the life of a mother.
O’Rourke: In contrast, O’Rourke aims to repeal the state abortion ban and veto any laws that may limit abortion access, returning Texas to ground zero. This isn’t enough and he knows it. Thus he seeks to pull prenatal and maternal healthcare up from its ranking as the worst in the country, trusting the pregnant peoples in decisions regarding their own bodies.
Issue 2, The Second Amendment and Gun Rights:
In light of the Uvalde shooting (and many others like it), the discussion of gun control and the limits of the Second Amendment reentered the spotlight.
Abbott: Beginning in September of 2021, Texas implemented open-carry laws for handguns, no longer requiring permits to own this firearm. Prior to becoming Governor, Abbott aided the championing of a landmark Supreme Court case that struck down handgun bans and challenged the Obama Administration and UN in their attempts to regulate firearms in the US. Laws like these leave Texas vulnerable to those exploiting the benefits of the loose permit requirements.
O’Rourke: O’Rourke supports a more literal interpretation of the Second Amendment than his Republican counterpart in regard to the “Well regulated” militia aspect. If voted in, he promises to repeal the permitless law and implement a policy that would fix the private sale loophole, placing a red flag law system to prevent buyers from avoiding background checks. He opposes making weapons of war (ie. AR-15 and AK-47) accessible to civilians.
Issue 3, Immigration and the Border
A significant aspect of the Trump era was anti-immigrant rhetoric and constant proclamations of a border wall between Mexico and America. Immigrants from Mexico compose 24% of the total American Immigrants, many of whom cross the Mexican-American border from Texas.
Abbott: His rhetoric largely centers around “securing” the border, using the term to imply that the US people need to be “protected” from immigrants. During his term, Abbott tripled spending on border security, allocating large sums to wall construction, and repeatedly sued the Biden Administration for attempting to lift Trump-era immigration restrictions. He pushes for homogeny instead of growth.
O’Rourke: Also aiming to “secure” the border, he plans to create more pathways to let immigrants in legally. Doing so would lessen the need for illegal immigration, hence creating a safer border while allowing more people to better their lives in America.
The Situation as of 10/13/2022:
As it stands, Abbott has a four-point advantage over O’Rourke. While 5% of voters are still undecided, it becomes more imperative in the coming month for O’Rourke to sway those who have yet sided with a candidate and for voters and citizens, Texans or not, to strengthen his voice by amplifying his platform.
Written by: Lee Iraheta
Edited by: Celine Chiang