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Candidate Beto O'Rourke kicks off gubernatorial campaign

Texas’ newest gubernatorial candidate, Beto O’Rourke, kicked off his campaign on Tuesday.

SAN ANTONIO — Texas’s newest gubernatorial candidate, Beto O’Rourke, was in San Antonio Tuesday morning, already hot on the campaign trail. Dozens of people were standing in line just to say hi and take a photo with him.

After visiting Fort Stockton, O'Rourke headed to San Antonio and Laredo.

In San Antonio, O’Rourke wanted to take a moment to thank essential workers for their efforts during the pandemic.

RELATED: Beto O’Rourke announces he’s running for Texas governor

You can see the full interview here

“I’m running for governor and I want to tell you why,” O'Rourke said. “Those in positions of public trust have stopped listening to, serving and paying attention to and trusting the people of Texas.”

Some of the biggest issues he’s campaigning on include fixing Texas’s power grid, expanding healthcare and legalizing marijuana.

“As governor, I will make sure that solutions that we implement, we work on together. And that begins by listening to people where they are in their communities,” he said.

In Laredo, a meet-and-greet brought him face-to-face with his supporters.

O'Rourke is no stranger to campaign events. He has run for office twice before.

He lost to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and also tried his luck with a 2020 presidential campaign, but later dropped out.

He says he's learned from the past and this run will be different.

“What I have learned is that it’s all about the power of people. If you let it be about the candidate or their political party, I don’t know that you’re going to win a statewide race in Texas," he said. "You got to make it about what’s most important to the people that you want to serve. And what I’ve heard tonight in Laredo, that is jobs, that’s quality public schools and that’s doing common sense things like expanding Medicaid.”

O'Rourke will head further south along the border -- including stops in Edinburg, McAllen and Brownsville -- before coming to Houston to end the week.

Throughout his campaign, O’Rourke plans to visit every Texas county.

“When you flick the light switch, the lights should turn on. The heat should run. The water should be able to flow and we need the confidence, the vision and the focus on the people of Texas and I think that’s what together, we can do,” O'Rourke said.

Another word he used Tuesday was "trust." O’Rourke said he will trust voters to make the right decision, he will trust local leaders to govern how they see fit and he said he will trust women to make the decisions for their own bodies.

“We should never assume or predict how anyone is going to vote based on their ethnicity or their race or how others who look like them and speak like them have voted in the past,” O’Rourke said. “We’ve got to show up and listen and work with them and that’s why I’m going to these really important communities.”

O'Rourke will be in Houston on Friday to tour the home of a Winter Storm Uri victim. He'll then hold a campaign kickoff event later that night.

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Abbott welcomes challenge

At a previously scheduled event on Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott reacted to O'Rourk's announcement by calling his campaign hostile.

“He wants to go take your guns and deny you your second amendment rights. We will not let that happen," Abbott said.

Gun debate

The gun debate will be a big issue, according to KHOU 11 political analyst Bob Stein.

“That’s going to be a resident argument, of course, for Gov. Abbott,” Stein said.

O'Rourke said he wants to end permitless carry and move forward with things like universal background checks.

What the polls say

A recent Rice University poll showed the race between Abbott and O'Rourke could be close. Among registered voters polled, it showed 43% would choose Abbott, 42% would choose O'Rourke and 12% were unsure.