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Greg Abbott, Beto O’Rourke to face off in race for Texas governor this November

The incumbent Republican governor and Democratic former congressman won their respective primaries on Tuesday, March 1.

AUSTIN, Texas — It’s the matchup most Texans expected. Incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Beto O’Rourke – a former congressman, U.S. Senate nominee and presidential candidate – have won their respective primaries and will now face off in the race for Texas governor this November.

The race was called early, around an hour after polls closed. Click here to follow along for final percentages as results continue to trickle in.

Abbott defeated seven other Republicans – Paul Belew, Danny Harrison, Kandy Kaye Horn, Don Huffines, Rick Perry (not the former Texas governor), Chad Prather and Allen West – to secure the Republican nomination. O’Rourke defeated four other Democrats – Inocencio “Inno” Barrientez, Michael Cooper, Joy Diaz and Rich Wakeland – to secure the Democratic nomination.

Abbott was elected as the 48th governor of Texas in 2014 and assumed office in 2015. Prior to that, he was the 50th and longest-serving Texas attorney general, a position he held from 2002 until 2015. He also previously served as a justice on the Texas Supreme Court for several years and as a state district judge in Harris County. He is a native Texan who was born in Wichita Falls and raised in Duncanville. After graduating from The University of Texas at Austin, Abbott earned a law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School.

According to his campaign website, Abbott’s primary issues include growing the Texas economy, defending the Second Amendment, protecting religious freedom, supporting law enforcement and securing the Texas-Mexico border, among other things.

“Tonight, Republicans sent a message. They want to keep Texas on the extraordinary path of opportunity that we have provided over the past eight years. A Texas where working families can flourish under the ninth largest economy in the world. A Texas where students are prepared and inspired for college or a career. A Texas that supports our law enforcement officers who keep our communities safe. A Texas where we protect your constitutional rights and individual liberties. A Texas where everyone has a path to prosperity,” said Gov. Abbott after claiming victory.

RELATED: Texas wins Governor's Cup for 10th straight year after securing 2X more investment, job creation projects than any other state in 2021

The governor also touched on the Texas economy, with 10 Governor's Cups on stage with him during his speech.

"They go to the state with the best job creation and capital investment in the country, and every year that I’ve been governor, we have won this prestigious award," he said. "These awards don’t belong to me though. They belong to the people of Texas. Businesses large and small and their hardworking employees all across the state of Texas won these Governor’s Cups. You have all contributed to making Texas the best state for business.”

RELATED: Poll shows Gov. Greg Abbott leading Beto O'Rourke in race for Texas governor

O’Rourke said in Fort Worth Tuesday night that his team has its work cut out heading into the November election with volunteers out in force already to gather votes. 

"Look, we've got our work cut out for us in a state that has tried to make it hard to vote. And it's why we sent our volunteers out early. Most campaigns will keep those volunteers in reserve until the summer of the fall. We're deploying them now because we do not have a second to spare given what we're up against," O'Rourke said. "We've got to run the most aggressive, vigorous campaign you have ever seen and you'll see we do that."

The Democratic candidate was born and raised in El Paso. He attended Columbia University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature. He served as a member of the El Paso City Council for several years and as a U.S. Representative for the El Paso area from 2013 until 2019. In 2018, O’Rourke ran for U.S. Senate against Republican Ted Cruz and lost. In March 2019, O’Rourke announced his candidacy in the 2020 presidential election but ended his campaign eight months later.

He also touched on Tarrant County flipping in the 2018 election to help Rep. Colin Allred (D-Texas 32) get into office and said the county will remain important this election cycle. 

"I became the first Democrat to win Tarrant County since 1994. Tarrant County, in this election likewise, will be a source of strength for down-ballot races and making sure we have enough votes to with the big one and become the first Democrat since 1994 to win a statewide election in Texas," said O'Rourke. 

O'Rourke added he has kept "showing up" in South Texas border towns in an effort to appeal to voters and let South Texans know they are not forgotten by Democrats, which he blames in part for their losses in 2020.

"And I also agree Democrats are partly to blame for our losses in 2020 because we have not been showing up in these communities and we have not been reflecting what's important to those whose votes we're asking for. I'm not going to make that mistake, and that's why I keep showing up and keep reflecting back what I'm hearing," he said.

O’Rourke also founded and currently leads Powered by People, an organization that “works to expand democracy and produce Democratic victories through voter registration and direct voter engagement,” according to his campaign website.

His website also states that O’Rourke’s primary issues include power grid stability, affordable health care, high-quality jobs, reproductive health and rural investment, among other things.

RELATED: Poll shows Gov. Greg Abbott leading Beto O'Rourke in race for Texas governor

A University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll released on Feb. 14 showed Abbott and O’Rourke avoiding primary runoffs and facing each other in November. The poll also found Abbott leading O'Rourke by 10 percentage points among verified primary voters. Additionally, according to the poll, independents favor Abbott over O'Rourke nearly 2 to 1.

The two will go head-to-head in the general election on Nov. 8.

For the latest election coverage, visit KVUE.com/VoteTexas. For results on Election Day, visit KVUE.com/Elections.

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