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Texas Gov. Abbott and Beto O'Rourke are set for an election clash after primary wins

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Brandon Bell
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Getty Images

Updated March 1, 2022 at 9:16 PM ET

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday staved off Republican primary challenges from far-right opponents, according to a race call from The Associated Press, setting up a closely watched general election clash against Democratic nominee Beto O'Rourke.

Abbott handily trounced the field of fellow Republicans, topping the 50% mark needed to avoid a runoff. His opponents included former Texas GOP Chair Allen West and businessman Don Huffines — both of whom had sought to position themselves as the more conservative alternative to Abbott.

Abbott, who is seeking his third term in office, had secured the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.

He now faces O'Rourke in the Nov. 8 election.

O'Rourke, a former Texas congressman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, also easily won his party's nomination, according to the AP.

Pre-primary polling has found Abbott besting O'Rourke, and Texas hasn't elected a Democratic governor for more than three decades.

But O'Rourke emerged in 2018 as a new face of Texas' Democratic Party, as he energized a new generation of voters while running against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

Though beaten in that contest, O'Rourke remained in the public spotlight, riding a wave of Beto-mania into the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, where he took some left-leaning positions that may complicate his efforts to appeal to Texans.

And the landscape in 2022 is likely to be a far cry from that of 2018 and 2020. President Biden's ratings are low — an ominous warning for down-ballot Democrats.

O'Rourke has criticized Abbott's conservative stewardship of the pandemic, as well as electricity grid failures in Texas last year.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alana Wise is a politics reporter on the Washington desk at NPR.
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