Misfortunes in Texas tighten the race for Governor

San Antonio, United States.- One of the deadliest school shootings in American history, the revival of a 1920s abortion ban, the worst recent episode of migrant deaths, and a power grid that fails during the winter and summer have impacted the Texas Governor’s race.

Polls have shown tight single-digit competition between incumbent Republican state President Greg Abbott and his Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke, making the upcoming election perhaps the most competitive since the 1990s.

“It seems like some of the worst things that are happening in this country have their roots in Texas,” said James Talarico, a Democratic state representative from north Austin.

“We are seeing a renewed fighting spirit.”

There has been a perceptible change in Texas in recent weeks, as various public polls record, after the Uvalde primary shooting that left 21 dead and the Supreme Court ruling reinstating a 1925 that prohibits all abortions, except when the woman’s life is in danger.

“The abortion law has hurt Republicans in Texas, as has Uvalde and the power grid,” said Mark Jones, a political science professor at Rice University.

“Biden and inflation have been his saving grace.”

Most voters surveyed did not rank guns or abortion among their top issues in the recent poll, conducted by the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs, but many of O’Rourke’s supporters did, suggesting that the topics could help energize their voters.

A separate poll, conducted by the University of Texas at Austin and released this month, showed 59 percent think the state is on the “wrong track,” the highest number in more than a decade.

Another study put O’Rourke within 5 percentage points of the Governor.

As new polls showed the Democrat’s numbers were improving, Abbott’s campaign called a conference call.

“We’re on the right track, where we want to be,” said Dave Carney, the Governor’s strategist.

He added that his tactic still involves linking O’Rourke to Biden and reminding voters of the Democrat’s positions on gun control, police reform and the oil industry during his unsuccessful run in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.

“He’s going to be reliving the spectacular disaster of running for President and all the things he said,” Carney said.

“Trust me, he liked to talk, and it’s all on video, and it’s all contrary to what the values ​​are and what the vast majority of Texans believe.”

That approach has been part of Abbott’s campaign message from the beginning, particularly on the issue of guns.

In one of the first attacks on O’Rourke, the Republican’s team highlighted the Democrat’s promise during his presidential campaign to take away AR-15 rifles from the public.

Last May, he responded again with an equally risky political tactic: interrupting a news conference held in Uvalde the day after the school shooting to directly challenge Abbott over his gun record.

“This is up to you,” O’Rourke said.

The moment, which angered many Republicans, seemed at the same time to have energized Democrats who, like Talarico, were eager to see an aggressive flag-bearer statewide.

“He was showing all of us who believe in democracy, in the broad sense of the term, how to respond,” he said.

In Uvalde, a majority-Hispanic city where hunting is a common pastime, the political mood has changed since the massacre.

Many now support stricter gun laws.

“Everybody has guns here,” said one villager, who lost a granddaughter in the shooting.

“But this is different. Nobody needs AR-15s. We have to ban them.”

Carney, in his call with reporters, admitted that the school shooting and new state restrictions on abortion had helped O’Rourke.

Chris Evans, a spokesman for the Democrat’s campaign, said the state is not happy with Abbott’s direction.

“If you look from April to July, the race changed 5 points,” he said.

“People are not happy with the state’s direction, and we go straight to them and offer them the alternative.”

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