Beto O'Rourke Hints at 2022 Bid, Embarks on Statewide Tour

Former Democratic primary candidate Beto O'Rourke hinted that he could consider a bid for the Texas governor's mansion in 2022—but only if he defeats a Republican voting restriction bill.

In an interview with local news station KXAN, O'Rourke said he would only think about the 2022 midterm elections once the Texas GOP's plans have been taken off the table, or overruled by a federal bill.

"If we can get this done... I'll think about what other role I can play in public service whether that is as a candidate in 2022 or supporting great candidates in 2022," O'Rourke told KXAN.

The Texas Democrat will be on a tour of the state over the next few weeks, campaigning against attempts to curtail voting rights and democracy. His tour will take him to the city of Midland on Thursday, and finish in Austin on June 20, according to the Powered by People campaign.

Newsweek contacted O'Rourke's Powered By People campaign for further comment.

Republicans in the Texas Senate have passed a bill that would make absentee voting harder and ban drive-through and 24-hour voting in the state.

Texas Democrats in the state House at the end of May blocked the passage of the law by staging a walk-out and denying the lower chamber a quorum. The move made it impossible to hold a vote before a midnight deadline.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) responded on Monday with a threat to hold up the pay of lawmakers who continued to block the bill's passage. "I will veto Article 10 of the budget passed by the legislature," he tweeted.

Article 10 of the budget bill funds the pay packets of lawmakers and other staff. "No pay for those who abandon their responsibilities," Gov. Abbott added. "Stay tuned."

Whatever the future of the Texas GOP voting plans, the Associated Press reported on May 24 that a top aide to O'Rourke said he hadn't ruled out challenging Abbott at the 2022 midterm elections.

The outlet also reported that the Democrat hadn't yet taken any formal steps toward a gubernatorial candidacy.

Democrats have signalled that they would support O'Rourke if he chose to run for the governor's mansion next year, with Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa telling the Associated Press that they were "anxious" for him to announce a campaign.

"I told him that I thought that we needed a strong candidate for governor and he certainly fit that mold, and that, in my opinion, if anybody could beat Abbott, he could beat him," Hinojosa added.

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke
Former United States Representative Beto O'Rourke speaks during the "Texans Rally For Our Voting Rights" event at the Texas Capitol Building on May 8, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Gary Miller/Getty Images