By: Roy Douglas Malonson & NNPA
They say things are hot in the south, well, when it comes to politics, it’s about to be scorching. That’s because two major announcements for gubernatorial seats in Texas and Georgia are about to make 2022 “one for the record books.”
Earlier this month, former congressman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’ Rourke launched his campaign to run for governor of Texas.
O’Rourke tweeted, “Together, we can push past the small and divisive politics that we see in Texas today — and get back to the big, bold vision that used to define a Texas big enough for all of us.”
O’Rourke has become a person that many millennials have connected with. So what is the draw? Well, he is an El Paso native and former punk rocker who launched an internet services company.
He served on the city council before being elected to Congress in 2011 — and is now making his third run for office in four years.
His first statewide run in Texas against Republican Ted Cruz in 2018, electrified Democrats, where the party has rarely been competitive for a generation. He founded and currently leads Powered by People, a Texas-based organization that works to expand democracy and produce Democratic victories through voter registration and direct voter engagement. Powered by People has helped register over 250,000 unregistered Texans to vote since its inception in December 2019.
He rose from little-known congressman to fundraising dynamo, setting what, at the time, was the all-time record for money raised for a Senate bid. And he did it with a relatively bare-bones campaign structure, mostly driving himself to campaign events across the state with two staffers and live-streaming it all on Facebook.
When he didn’t get the senate seat, he ran for president, and now he is in it to win it as governor in 2022.
For many Texas Democrats, O’ Rourke could be the party’s only chance of denying Abbott a third term. A lot of Democratic hopes are riding on O’Rourke this election cycle, but few may be more consequential to the party’s future in Texas than his ability to stave off a strong GOP offensive in South Texas. Emboldened by President Joe Biden’s underwhelming performance throughout the predominantly Hispanic region last year, Republicans have been pushing hard to make new inroads there, and O’Rourke faces an incumbent who has been working for years to win Hispanic voters.
Abbott has put an emphasis on South Texas since his first gubernatorial campaign in 2014, and he has been increasingly traveling there in recent months, both in his official capacity and for political appearances. Carney said it will become “crystal clear” after the holidays that Abbott will be traveling to South Texas frequently.
If O’Rourke wants to beat Abbott, in addition to grabbing the Hispanic vote, he needs to focus on addressing food and gas prices, Roe v. Wade and the coronavirus.
And in Georgia, Stacey Abrams has once again set the state on fire.
In an announcement that has provided a jolt to the 2022 midterm elections, Abrams said she’s running for governor of the Peach State
The race, which could mean a second dual between Abrams and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, promises to catapult Democrats into the position of favorites.
A Democrat and noted voting rights advocate, Abrams lost to Kemp by just over one percentage point in their controversial 2018 battle.
Her activism helped Democrats claim the majority in the U.S. Senate when Georgia Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff defeated Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the January 2021 runoff election.
“I’m running because opportunity in our state shouldn’t be determined by zip code, background, or access to power,” Abrams declared. “That’s the job of the governor – to fight for one Georgia, our Georgia,” Abrams exclaimed. “And now, it is time to get the job done.”
Abrams’s work since her 2018 loss to Kemp has received praise across the political spectrum. In 2019, she launched Fair Count and Fair Fight Action to encourage voter participation in elections and educate voters about elections and their voting rights.
The PAC brings awareness to the public on election reform, advocates for election reform at all levels, and engages in other voter education programs and communications.
“Voter suppression, particularly of voters of color and young voters, is a scourge our country faces in states across the nation,” Abrams noted on her website.
She said Georgia’s 2018 elections “shone a bright light on the issue with elections that were rife with mismanagement, irregularities, unbelievably long lines and more, exposing both recent and also decades-long actions and inactions by the state to thwart the right to vote.”
“Fair Fight Action was founded to organize collective efforts to expose, mitigate, and reverse voter suppression. We engage in voter mobilization and education activities and advocate for progressive issues,” Abrams continued.
Fair Fight PAC has initiated programs to support voter protection programs at state parties around the country and is engaging in partnerships to support and elect pro-voting rights progressive leaders.
After serving for eleven years in the Georgia House of Representatives, seven as Democratic Leader
In 2018, Abrams became the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia, winning more votes than any other Democrat in the state’s history.
She broke the glass ceiling as the first Black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States and as the first Black woman and first Georgian to deliver a Response to the State of the Union.
“It’s a very humbling experience to know that if I win this election, I would have achieved something that Black women as far back as Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm has fought about, not necessarily the same job, but transforming how we think about leadership in America and physically claiming that mantle of leadership and holding it signals that anything is possible, and we can re-define what leadership looks like and who we can lift up,” Abrams said in a 2018 interview with the Black Press of America.
If Abrams is successful, she would become the first Black governor of Georgia and the first Black woman to serve as governor of any state.
If elected, O’Rourke would be the first Democrat to serve as Texas’ governor since Gov. Dorothy Ann Willis Richards in 1995, though the traditionally conservative-leaning state has become increasingly more purple in recent years.