AUSTIN, Texas (NewsNation Now) — The race for Texas governor is heating up as more potential candidates join the field and weigh their options in the 2022 race.
Republican Don Huffines, a former state senator from Dallas who has sharply criticized Texas’ handling of the pandemic, said Monday he would challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in 2022.
Huffines is a wealthy business owner who has spent the past year rallying with conservative activists around Texas, including outside the governor’s mansion in October. Abbott, who did not have a serious primary challenger in his first two campaigns for governor, has faced pressure from within his party over COVID-19 closures and a statewide mask mandate.
A Democratic challenger to Abbott next year has yet to emerge, although former congressman Beto O’Rourke has not ruled out running. Actor Matthew McConaughey is also flirting with a run for governor.
The Oscar winner said in March he was open to the idea of running for governor.
In a podcast called The Balanced Voice, the 51-year-old actor, professor and author seemed open to the idea.
“Should your next leadership role ever include you, you know, running for governor of this wonderful state, we’d be very happy,” podcast host and Crime Stoppers CEO Rania Mankarious said.
“I hear you. It’s a true consideration,” McConaughey responded.
Earlier in the interview, McConaughey mentioned looking ahead to future “leadership roles.”
“I’m looking into now what is my leadership role,” McConaughey said. “I do think I have some things to teach and share. What is my category in my next chapter of life that I’m going into now?”
McConaughey isn’t the only celebrity toying with a gubernatorial run. Former reality star and Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete Caitlyn Jenner announced last month she filed paperwork to run for governor of California.
The 71-year-old longtime Republican would face off against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom in a recall election later this year.
Abbott reported having nearly $38 million in his campaign account in January, and his prolific fundraising has been a major obstacle for previous challengers. Abbott has served as the 48th governor of Texas since 2015. Before that, he was the attorney general for the state for 13 years.
The Associated Press and NewsNation affiliate KETK contributed to this report.