GOV (Likely R): Seeking to recapture the mojo of 2018 without any of the side effects from his 2020 presidential campaign, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) announced he would challenge Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

O’Rourke came within 3 points of ousting U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in 2018 after raising nearly $80M. Instead of challenging U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R) two years later, O’Rourke launched an ill-fated and ill-fitting presidential campaign. After initial buzz – He raised $9M during the first few weeks following his announcement – O’Rourke failed to gain any traction in polls while fundraising slipped. He raised $9M more before ending his campaign before the Texas filing period began.

Abbott entered the second half of 2021 with more than $55M on hand, and he reported raising $4.5M during the first two special sessions (The third special session report is due Thursday.). Even if he did not raise another dollar, Abbott would have nearly double the amount of money on hand as Cruz raised during the entire 2017-18 cycle. But raise money he will. Abbott raised $34M between July 1, 2017 and the end of 2018.

O’Rourke’s entry into the race is by two days the third earliest of the last seven presumptive frontrunners for the nomination.

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