AUSTIN, Texas — Beto O’Rourke launched his campaign for Texas governor Monday, joining an already crowded race.

“Those in positions of public trust have stopped listening to, serving, paying attention to and trusting the people of Texas,” he said in a video posted to Twitter. “They're not focused on the things that we really want them to do.”

O’Rouke's announcement pinpointed the catastrophic, statewide electric grid failure during a February 2020 winter storm and division in the state. And he accused Texas Republicans of focusing on “extremist policies around abortion or permitless carry” instead of solving problems.

If elected governor, O’Rourke said he will work to stop the divide that such policies have created and get the state back to focusing on things its residents can agree on like “making sure that we have a functioning electricity grid, or that we're creating the best jobs in America right here in Texas.”

“It's a really small vision for such a big state, but it doesn't have to be that way,” O’Rourke said. “I know that together, we can get back to being big again.”

O’Rourke, a native of El Paso, shot to the national political stage in 2018 when he nearly unseated Sen. Ted Cruz, losing by three percentage points. The fact that O’Rourke was so close to unseating an incumbent Republican state leader in Texas provided him an immediate foothold in the Democratic Party.

O’Rourke also ran as Democratic presidential candidate in 2020. Prior to his presidential run, O’Rourke represented Texas' 16th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2013 to 2019.

In the race for governor, O’Rourke will have to beat out at least three other Democratic candidates in the primary before taking on a Republican challenger.

Incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott previously announced he will run for a third term. Abbott too faces a crowded primary with at least five other candidates, including competition from Allen West, former chair of the Texas Republican Party.

A recent poll by Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation and Rice University’s Baker Institute had O’Rourke in a near dead heat with Abbott. A separate poll by The Texas Tribune and University of Texas at Austin had the gap at 9% points in favor of Abbott.

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