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2022 Texas governor's race: Greg Abbott projected winner over Beto O'Rourke

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott wins reelection, CBS News projects 01:23

CBS News projects Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wins reelection in his race against Democrat Beto O'Rourke.

Texas hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994. 

Abbott faced criticism after a freeze in 2021 led to a dayslong power outage; 246 deaths were blamed on the storm, making it one of the state's worst natural disasters in history. And in May 2022, a gunman opened fire at the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 19 students and two teachers. Abbott initially praised law enforcement response, but later said he had been "misled" by authorities when it became public that officers had waited over an hour to go into the school. 

Although polls showed a tight race in the summer and early fall, recent polls showed Abbott opening up a double-digit lead. More than $100 million has been raised this year by both candidates. 

O'Rourke, a former congressman, burst onto the national scene in 2018 when he ran for Senate against Ted Cruz and came within 3 points.


The race

Abbott was first elected in 2014 by a 20-point margin and won reelection in 2018 by 13 points — the same year as O'Rourke's failed Senate run. Abbott has been mentioned as a possible presidential contender, too,  following in the footsteps of his predecessors, former President George W. Bush and former Gov. Rick Perry. 

O'Rourke, a member of Congress from El Paso, ran for Senate in 2018. O'Rourke raised a record $80 million in the race and the race garnered national headlines. Despite the loss, O'Rouke launched an ill-fated presidential bid, dropping out before 2019 ended. 

Texas politicians making final campaign push ahead of midterm elections 02:00

He announced in Jan. 2022 that he would be taking on Abbott, who has moved further to the right in the past eight years. Among those moves to the right: Launching a National Guard mission along the border called Operation Lone Star; loosening gun laws; signing a restrictive abortion law in 2021 — ahead of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade; and pushing through a voter law that led to Democratic lawmakers fleeing the state. 

O'Rourke has been campaigning hard on Abbott's swing to the right as well as the response to the 2021 freeze and the Uvalde shooting

To win, O'Rourke needs to hope for large voter turnout and build a coalition of voters of color, Republican Texans to flip, suburban swing voters, youth voters and all the true blue Texas Democrats he can get. 

By Caroline Linton
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