DALLAS, Texas -- Former Democratic El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke said Friday that he doesn't currently intend to run against incumbent Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott next year, but then later indicated that he might reconsider it in the future.
O’Rourke first ignited speculation that he would launch a challenge to the governor's re-election bid during an appearance on an El Paso radio show in January when he said he was "thinking about it."
O’Rourke's announcement that he's not planning a bid right now came in an interview with the Dallas Morning News that was published Friday afternoon.
“I’ve got no plans to run, and I’m very focused on the things that I’m lucky enough to do right now -- organizing, registering voters and teaching. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing now,” O'Rourke told DMN, referring to his political action committee called 'Powered by People' and his political science course teaching at the University of Texas and Texas State University.
“That’s the work that is most important right now and I don’t want to distract from it by talking about a campaign or running for office," he added.
But then just a few hours after saying he had "no plans" to run for governor, O'Rourke sought to clarify that he might change his mind down the road.
"Nothing I said (to DMN) would preclude me from considering a run in the future," he said in a statement sent to the Texas Tribune on Friday evening.
O'Rourke came close to defeating GOP U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in 2018, which left many Texas Democrats thinking he would be the party's best shot at denying Abbott a third gubernatorial term.
In his DMN interview, O'Rourke suggested two other Democrats that he felt could defeat Abbott if either of them opted to run.
“How about a Democrat like Clay Jenkins, the county judge of Dallas County, who has, in contrast, absolutely distinguished himself in the professionalism with which he’s met both the pandemic and the rollout of the vaccine,” O’Rourke told the Dallas newspaper. “How about somebody like Lina Hidalgo, the county judge in Harris County, who has disregarded the polls and the conventional wisdom and instead followed the best public health advice and science and guidance from medical practitioners.”