Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey announced on Sunday that there is one role he isn’t interested in taking on just yet: that of Texas governor.
Although McConaughey had been mulling over the idea of running for the state’s top political post, he said in an Instagram video on Sunday that he would not be running for governor in 2022.
“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,” McConaughey said. “It’s a humbling and inspiring path to ponder. It is also a path that I’m choosing not to take at this moment.”
McConaughey had decent polling results against the two main candidates in the gubernatorial race, Democrat and former congressman Beto O’Rourke and incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott. But it was unclear whether the actor, who doesn’t have any political experience, could hold his own in a long campaign against the two.
It was also difficult to pin down where McConaughey stood on many issues. While he expressed support for vaccinations to protect against COVID-19, he also announced that he was reluctant to have his own kids get the shots, even though evidence demonstrates the smaller dosage vaccines for children are safe.
McConaughey’s announcement means that O’Rourke and Abbott are the two main contenders in the race. O’Rourke, a former congressional representative from El Paso who announced his gubernatorial candidacy earlier this month, is hoping to become the first Democrat to win the governorship since 1995.
But O’Rourke faces his own challenges. Although he is now seen as the sole anti-Abbott candidate, a recent poll found that only 35 percent of Texas residents view him in a favorable light.
Abbott is also seeing his popularity in the state wane, likely due to a number of authoritarian moves by him and legislative Republicans. This year, Abbott has signed voter suppression laws, anti-trans legislation and a bill that effectively banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The governor has also been condemned for his weak response to the coronavirus pandemic and his lackluster leadership during an energy crisis in February, when Texas’s energy grid stopped working during an unusual winter storm.
In spite of Abbott’s tanking approval numbers, he still leads O’Rourke in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up. In a Dallas Morning News/University of Texas at Tyler poll published last week, voters were asked who they preferred to win the governor’s race in 2022. O’Rourke received 39 percent support, while Abbott received 45 percent.