Abbott defeats O’Rourke in Texas gubernatorial race

Gov. Abbott’s midterm win impacts Mac community


Incumbent Greg Abbott won his third term as Texas Governor, defeating challenger Beto O’Rourke. Photo accessed on the Flickr account of Gage Skidmore. Reposted here with permission under a creative commons license.

On Nov. 8, 2022, Republican Greg Abbott won a third term as Texas governor, defeating challenger Democrat Beto O’Rourke. Following COVID-19, abortion restrictions, the Uvalde school shooting and power grid failures during Abbott’s previous term, the election fueled an intense political climate within the state.

Abbott, who exerted an 11-point win over O’Rourke to secure his third term as governor, is a former Texas Supreme Court justice and attorney general. His campaign focused largely on Texas-Mexico border security. Appeasing Republican voters, Abbott connected frustrations with President Joe Biden’s policies to O’Rourke’s campaign.

Abbott delivered his victory speech in McAllen, Texas underlining his plan to continue efforts regarding border control, education, lowering crime rates and regulating the economy.

“Tonight, Texans sent a very resounding message,” Abbott said. “They want to keep Texas the beacon of opportunity that we have provided over the past eight years.”

So listen, tonight, Texans sent a very resounding message. They want to keep Texas the beacon of opportunity that we have provided over the past eight years.

— Gov. Greg Abbott

O’Rourke raised $27.6 million to support his campaign, outraising Abbott and breaking Texas’ campaign fundraising record. He won predominantly largely populated areas including Travis, Harris, Dallas and El Paso counties. In O’Rourke’s 2018 campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz, he won 32 counties. However, in this 2022 gubernatorial election cycle, he only won 19 counties.

O’Rourke delivered his concession speech in his hometown El Paso late on Election Day, making this the third time in the past four years that he’s had to address his supporters after a loss in an election cycle. He said it may be one of the last times he gets to speak to his supporters in this setting, but he vowed to stay involved.

“I don’t know what my role or yours will be going forward, but I’m in this fight for life,” O’Rourke said.

For many Texas Democrats, O’Rourke was a symbol of reform in Texas politics, representing hope for a shift from the Republican agenda.

Senior Sabina Guardado felt that the election results were a general disappointment, particularly in regard to the young adult voter turnout.

“Even though that’s something seen every election cycle, it was very disheartening to see so many people dismissing the need to vote,” Guardado said.

While O’Rourke’s campaign raised over $27.6 million in fundraising, more than Abbott’s campaign and previous in-house fundraising records, the Democratic candidate was only able to win 19 counties this past election cycle. Photo accessed on the Flickr account of Gage Skidmore. Republished here with permission under a Creative Commons license. (Gage Skidmore)

Although Guardado wasn’t able to vote in this election cycle, she highlighted her hopes for future elections during which she can participate and wield power in Texas politics. 

“I hope to see new faces in politics,” she said. “I hope to see rural Texans lean blue. I think that’ll take a long time if it ever happens, but I hope the political divide between urban and rural areas becomes less stark.”

She believes the lower-than-ideal young adult voter turnout can be attributed to the intensely partisan political environment in Texas, which leads to a lessened interest in participation.

“I saw a lot of encouragement on social media to get people out to vote, but there’s still intense apathy with most young voters when it comes to politics,” she said. “Telling people their vote matters isn’t enough. I think they have to see it to believe it, and I truly don’t know how to make that happen–especially in a red state like Texas.”

Guardado believes, however, that a cultural change where young voters are more involved in voting must take place to ensure a holistic representation of demographics in elections.

The rhetoric surrounding elections is so partisan and disparaging. It can feel like there’s simply no reason to vote because the status quo will always persist.

— senior Sabina Guardado

“I think a lack of a young vote will always result in elections not representing the true interests of constituents,” she said. “If you miss such a major demographic it’ll always mean skewed interests. No matter the party, I think young voters don’t realize their vote has a lasting effect on their future.”

Guardado has noticed a widespread feeling of hopelessness among young Texans in response to the state of Texas politics.

“It’s hard for new voters to get excited about politics when the rhetoric surrounding elections is so partisan and disparaging,” Guardado said. “It can feel like there’s simply no reason to vote because the status quo will always persist.”

Junior Bella Gonzalez shares similar disappointments regarding the outcome of the gubernatorial election. She fears the implications of Abbott’s re-election as she believes the current issues afflicting the state will not be addressed.

“The fact that the patterns Abbott has established will continue and there will be barely any change is the biggest disappointment,” Gonzalez said. “We have no new hope for laws supporting our climate, women’s rights or LGBTQ+.”

I don’t know what my role or yours will be going forward, but I’m in this fight for life.

— Beto O'Rourke

Widely disputed topics such as abortion were a large factor in this election as Abbott instituted the most extreme abortion ban in the country, while O’Rourke hoped to implement pro-choice legislation in the state. Gonzalez said that as a young woman, the abortion ban is an important issue to her.

“It’s a very controversial topic, but I believe women should have the right to make the choice for themselves on something that is completely personal and shouldn’t be meddled with by the government,” she said.

Additionally, Gonzalez hopes to see more diversity in future Texas elections to fully represent all Texans.

“It would be great to have people that are young and bring a fresh perspective to the state.”