Opinion | Can Beto O’Rourke Pull a Stacey Abrams?

Produced by ‘Sway’

Beto O’Rourke came close to unseating Senator Ted Cruz in 2018 and fell far from winning the presidency in 2020. Now the former El Paso congressman has turned his attention back home. He’s been a key organizer and fund-raiser in the fight against Republicans’ efforts to restrict voting rights in the state, including their recent passage of S.B.1. He’s also rumored to be considering a run for Texas governor in 2022 — a race he describes as crucial given “the deep damage and chaos and incompetence that is connected to Greg Abbott,” the incumbent.

But can O’Rourke pull a Stacey Abrams and help flip his state blue? And if he decides to run, can he do what she previously couldn’t: win a governor’s seat?

[You can listen to this episode of “Sway” on Apple, Spotify, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.]

In this conversation, Kara Swisher presses O’Rourke on why he’s being so coy about a potential run and how dragging his feet may box out other Democratic contenders. They dig into some of those rumored contenders — specifically, the actor Matthew McConaughey. They also speak about the connection between Republican legislative moves to curb voting rights with S.B.1 and to restrict abortion with S.B.8 — and what it will take for Democrats to overcome these hurdles and actually win in Texas.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available midday on the Times website.)

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“Sway” is produced by Nayeema Raza, Blakeney Schick, Matt Kwong, Daphne Chen and Caitlin O’Keefe, and edited by Nayeema Raza; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; mixing by Carole Sabouraud and Sonia Herrero; audience strategy by Shannon Busta. Special thanks to Kristin Lin and Liriel Higa.

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