What one St. Edward’s professor has to say about candidates in 2022 Texas gubernatorial election


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Last held in 2018, the Texas gubernatorial race is hosted every four years. Gov. Greg Abbott has served as governor since 2015, but Texans may be ready for a change.

With Texas still reeling from the effects of the polar vortex in February, many are ready for change. The race for Governor of Texas is two years away, and the speculation is already rife as to who will stand up to challenge the incumbent Greg Abbott. Hilltop Views met with Brian W. Smith, a political science professor at St. Edward’s University, to discuss some of the likely candidates. 

Greg Abbott

Abbott has been governor of Texas for two terms and Smith is confident that Abbott will go for a third. 

“Greg Abbott has not given any indication that he is not going to run [for reelection] Rick Perry has set the precedent that if you want to be governor for life in Texas, you can do it,” Smith said. 

Smith also noted that while Abbott has faced significant backlash against his COVID-19 and energy policies, he’s well-known.

“Abbott is much more personally popular than any of the other big name Republicans,” Smith said. 

The big question surrounding Abbott’s re-election remains: is two years long enough to forget how he handled Winter Storm Urie and COVID-19?

Matthew McConaughey 

Matthew McConaughey has not publicly announced a run for office, yet has been quick to hint at it. Smith seemed amused by the concept.

“The great thing about celebrity candidates is that they are the most fun candidates,” Smith said. “He doesn’t fit into what the political parties want. Political parties want that ideologically pure candidate that they do not have to worry about…He is a great ambassador for Texas, but the Governor of Texas does a lot more than serve as an ambassador.” 

If McConaughey does run for office, it will be interesting to see how he separates his celebrity life from his political career. 

Lina Hidalgo 

Lina Hidalgo has come into the public eye due to her strong stance on COVID-19 in Houston. Hidalgo currently serves as the County Judge for Houston and seems to have a long future in politics ahead of her. Hidalgo has publicly denied any potential rumors of a run for governor. Smith took this as a sign that she is serious. 

“When people say that they’re not going to run, it means they’re seriously considering it. You have to keep all your cards close to your chest,” Smith said.

But does Hidalgo have the funds or recognition to successfully campaign in Texas?    

Beto O’Rourke

Beto O’Rourke has no shortage of funds or recognition to make running for governor possible. 

In Smith’s eyes, O’Rourke is the ideal democratic candidate, except for one glaring issue.

“His problem, of course, is that he lost that election [2018 Texas Senate race]. You’re only as good as your last election,” Smith said.

Nevertheless, O’Rourke has retained some popularity in Texas and does have the funds to run for governor. He also has another trick up his sleeve, according to Smith. “His advantage is that he can reinvent himself still. We could get a new and improved Beto O’Rourke.”


At this point in time, the biggest opposition to Abbott is unclear. While Abbott has faced criticism from the left for his handling of the pandemic, he still remains largely popular among the right. Replacing him  will take a massive movement from any one of these candidates.