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Beto O'Rourke announces run for governor after months of speculation. (Bob Daemmrich)

Former congressman Beto O'Rourke is officially running for Texas governor, becoming the first Democrat challenger to join the 2022 race.

His announcement, made Monday morning, took jabs at the GOP-run governor's office, saying "those in positions of public trust have stopped listening to, serving and paying attention to and trusting the people of Texas." He said, "They're focusing on the type of extremist policies around abortion or permitless carry or in our schools, that really only divide us—it's a really small vision for such a big state."

O'Rourke, a former three-term Democratic congressman from El Paso, gained steam as a political figure back in 2018 when he narrowly lost a race for U.S. Senate against Sen. Ted Cruz; he also ran for the 2020 presidential election before pulling out.

All year, many have suspected he would run for governor of Texas. He takes strong opposition to many of Gov. Greg Abbott's stances and policies. In his announcement, O'Rourke mentions focusing on the "things most of us care about," including expanding Medicaid and legalizing marijuana.

In the latest University of Texas and Texas Tribune poll, 37% of respondents said they would vote for O'Rourke and 46% said they would vote for Abbott.

The governor tweeted out a response to the announcement on Monday afternoon with a short video that read "Wrong for America" over President Joe Biden and then "Wrong for Texas" over O'Rourke.

Before facing off with Gov. Greg Abbott or another Republican—former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West and former state Sen. Don Huffines are running in the Republican primary—O'Rourke will need to win the Democratic primary. Texans will vote in the primaries come March 2022.

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