McConaughey passes on Governors race

Dave McNeely

A star considering being re-born as governor of Texas finally decided it was not yet his time to make politics more than a spectator sport.

Oscar-winning movie actor Matthew McConaughey announced his decision Sunday evening in a three-minute video posted to his Twitter and Instagram accounts. He said but after consideration, he decided it’s a path he is “choosing not to take at this moment.”

“As a simple kid born in the little town of Uvalde, Texas, it never occurred to me that I would one day be considered for political leadership,” he said. “It’s a humbling and inspiring path to ponder.”

McConaughey, 52, said while considering running, he was learning about Texas and American politics: “We have some problems that we need to fix.”

“We’ve gotta start shining a light on our shared values — the ones that cross party lines, the ones that build bridges instead of burning them,” he said. “I’ve learned that with freedom comes responsibility and that great leaders serve.”

McConaughey’s announcement was a relief to former El Paso Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who announced for governor Nov. 15. The filing deadline for 2022 elections is Dec. 13.

In recent polling by the Dallas Morning News/ UT-Tyler, O’Rourke, 49, was slightly behind McConaughey among all voters, but way ahead among Democrats.

The winner of the uncrowded Democratic primary for governor, will face the Republican primary winner – almost certainly incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott seeking a third four-year term. Abbott filed for re-election Nov. 23, 10 days after his 64th birthday.

Republican opponents so far include former Dallas State Sen. Don Huffines, from a wealthy car dealer family, and former Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West. He quit the party job after a year to make the race for governor.

West, a retired Army lieutenant colonel after 20 years, moved to Florida. He served one term in congress – that state’s first Black congressman since Reconstruction ended in 1876.

Attorney General Race Free-For-All

Republican Texas Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton might as well be a soccer ball, for all the kicks those after his job enjoy delivering.

The race’s most recent shuffle was that Texas State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, dropped running for attorney general to run for Tarrant County District Attorney, where incumbent Sharon Wilson unexpectedly recently said she is retiring.

Krause’s transfer came hours after 18-year Tyler U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert announced for AG. Krause endorsed Gohmert, saying the outspoken Tea Party ultra-conservative Gohmert is "running in the same exact lane that I was, and I think it makes a lot of sense to try to help him out."

Here are some comments from Republican challengers to Paxton, reported by the excellent weekly State of Texas program on Austin’s KXAN-TV:

Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman: “It is time for Ken Paxton to resign, and focus on his own legal issues. Ken Paxton was accused by seven of his hand-chosen attorneys. These are people he picked. These are conservative lawyers.

“This is not the Democrats coming after Ken Paxton. These are his hand-chosen attorneys, with lives and careers and families.

“They said, ‘My boss. I believe, is guilty of criminal wrongdoing.’ He gets investigated by the FBI for potential corruption and abuse-of-office charges.”

Gohmert: “I’m extremely concerned that if our attorney general wins (the Republican primary), because of awareness of what’s going on, that some of the fine people that have filed referral to the FBI, they’ll wait, and then they’ll indict him after the primary, and then you can’t change who’s on the general election form. And he only won with 50.6 percent of the vote last time.

“And this time we would lose, and have a Democrat for attorney general.

“I’m willing to run for attorney general, and nobody will outwork me on campaigning for attorney general.”

George P. Bush, retiring as Land Commissioner: “Look, this is Texas. We’ve got 28 million people. We deserve to have an attorney general who’s a top attorney, that’s above reproach, not out on criminal bond, and focused on the day-to-day challenges of the people of our state.”

Moderator: Should he resign?

“Absolutely. But I don’t know that he has it in him to do it. He knows, as a good lawyer does, is that the best way to stay out of jail is to delay the cases in the securities fraud case that he faces.

“We’re in year seven. What I’m challenging him to do is actually sit down under the Sixth Amendment, and exercise your right to a trial, and sit in front of your peers, and let’s clear the air, Ken.

“Why, why, why don’t you sit down for a jury trial, and see if you really are innocent?”

More in future columns about the Democratic contests.

Dave McNeely is a statewide political columnist. He can be contacted via email at  

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