Ted Cruz Says Matthew McConaughey Should Stick to Acting, Avoid Texas Governor Race

Many Texan voters polled this spring thought it would be alright, alright if actor Matthew McConaughey ran for governor of the Lone Star State. Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz doesn't think it's such a great idea, and said the actor should stick to acting.

Cruz appeared on the Hugh Hewitt radio show this week, and the senator answered a variety of questions ranging from the Biden-Putin meeting, Taiwan, foreign affairs, the Clinton administration and other current topics. Hewitt then asked the state's junior senator what he thought about McConaughey running for governor.

"Let me close with a tough question," Hewitt said. "Matthew McConaughey is considering running for governor. Would he be a formidable candidate for Greg Abbott? And why would he be, if you indeed conclude that he is?"

Cruz, who has said he knows McConaughey personally, said the 51-year-old actor would certainly be "formidable." Cruz added that he's also a friend and "big fan" of current Gov. Greg Abbott.

"Yeah, no, I think he would undoubtedly be formidable. I hope Matthew decides not to run. I am a big fan of Greg Abbott. He was my boss for five and a half years. He's a close friend and mentor," Cruz said. "And I like Matthew personally. I know him a little bit, not well, but I've spent a little bit of time with him. And he's a very charming, very affable guy.

"He's a movie star, and a good-looking, charming, affable movie star can be a really formidable candidate on the ballot. And I hope that doesn't happen, but you know what? He's going to have to make his own decision whether he's going to run or not."

Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey watches player warmups before the game between the Texas Longhorns and the LSU Tigers at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 7, 2019 in Austin, Texas. Many consider the actor a good candidate to run for Texas governor. Ted Cruz calls McConaughey a "formidable candidate" who should stick to acting. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The interview ended within the next couple of minutes, but a McConaughey-for-governor reality has gained steam over the last three months. The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler conducted a poll in April that showed McConaughey with a double-digit lead over Abbott at 45 percent for McConaughey and 33 percent for the incumbent governor.

It's unclear, though, whether McConaughey would run as a Republican, Democrat or a third party. He's pretty much stayed in the middle of the road, politically speaking, and says that it's the safest place to be since both Democrats and Republicans are so far away from the middle. McConaughey used good-ole Texas analogy to describe his stance during a March interview in the Longview News-Journal.

"I've said this analogy a few times before, but someone told me, 'There ain't nothing in the middle but dead armadillos and yellow lines,'" McConaughey said. "I said, 'Well, I'm walking right down the yellow lines, right in the middle of the highway right now. And the armadillos are free having a great time because right now, both sides are so far to the right or the left, there aren't even tires on the pavement.' So I think, going in, to think Democrat or Republican or one of the other, is small thinking now and even becoming unconstitutional because you're supposed to serve the American people or the people of your state."

Abbott has a stronghold in the state's Republican Party, and a $38 million war chest already established for the next election. That means unseating Abbott in the Republican primary would be a rather Herculean task.

McConaughey, who is from the east Texas town of Longview, went to the University of Texas in Austin. That's where he landed his first major role in Dazed and Confused, a movie that shows high school students in Austin waste away their last day of school.

He has since starred in several movies, including Dallas Buyers Club, in which he won an Academy Award. He's a professor at UT-Austin, where he teaches acting. The school also named him its "Minister of Culture."

He now lives in Austin, and he can typically be seen roaming the sidelines at Texas football games and sitting court side at the Longhorn men's basketball games.