Gregg Abbott decisively won a third term as governor of Texas on Tuesday, defeating Democratic challenger Bete O’Rourke after a tumultuous few years marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, a deadly power grid failure, new restrictions on voting rights and abortion and the Uvalde school shooting. Decision Desk HQ called the election for Abbott at 9:23 p.m. Central time.
Abbott, 64, a former state attorney general and Texas Supreme Court justice, faced his toughest opponent yet in O’Rourke, who repeatedly outraised the incumbent and broke a state fundraising record. But Abbott campaigned relentlessly on border security and capitalized on national headwinds favoring the GOP by tying O’Rourke to President Joe Biden, who is unpopular nationwide but especially in Texas. O’Rourke sought to make the race a referendum on Abbott’s eventful second term, emphasizing the grid failure and arguing Abbott had become too extreme on issues like guns and abortion. Both the Uvalde massacre and overturning of Roe v. Wade bolstered O’Rourke’s case, as Abbott resisted any new gun-control measures and his near-total abortion ban took effect.
Abbott largely ignored those issues as he campaigned more on the border, the economy and public safety. And he regularly reached back to comments that O’Rourke made during and around his unsuccessful 2020 presidential campaign, arguing O’Rourke showed he was too liberal for Texas.