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McConaughey isn't sure on bid for Texas governor, says he'll be 'aggressively centrist' if he runs

Native Texan Matthew McConaughey continues to weigh his options on a run for Texas governor. (Matthew McConaughey/Twitter)

Minister of Culture Matthew McConaughey continues to give vague commentary on his potential gubernatorial run, calling politics a "bag of rats" and debating on whether he could make an impactful change in a New York Times' Sway podcast interview.

McConaughey, who has hinted at a potential run for the November 2022 election for months, told Sway on the podcast that came out Thursday he was still "measuring" his options for the governor's race.

"One side I'm arguing is 'McConaughey exactly, that's why you need to go get in there. The other side is, 'that's a bag of rats man,'" McConaughey said. "Don't touch that with a 10-foot pole... you have another category to have influence... help how you think you can help and even heal divides.'"

While McConaughey said he's been learning from political mentors, sources told The Hollywood Reporter that McConaughey "hasn't been fundraising or gathering a potential staff, aside from a few exploratory phone calls."

The Oscar-winning actor has rallied Texans around a cause or two before—as part-owner of new MLS franchise Austin FC, he's been seen on the field banging a conga drum to ecstatic fans, and his "We're Texas" concert fundraiser raised $7.8 million for Texas residents in the wake of the February winter storm.

And his likable "poet-statesman" persona has transferred into the political sphere already. In a September poll of 1,148 Texan voters conducted by the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler, McConaughey beat Abbott 44% to 35%.

But new threats have been added to the mix. In September, an Axios report found that former congressman Beto O'Rourke would soon be announcing his run on the Democratic ticket. O'Rourke side-eyed McConaughey's ambiguous political stance in a statement and said he is "a really popular figure whose political views have not in any way been fixed."

"I don't know, for example, who he voted for in the most consequential election since 1864 in this country," O'Rourke added.

(Office of the Texas Governor, UT Moody College of Communication, Beto O'Rourke/Facebook)

But McConaughey said in the Sway interview that he didn't view the comment as a diss.

"I don't take that as shade," McConaughey said. "He called me a good man. I say he's a good man... he believes in what he's selling and his heart is in the right place and he's got the right compassion that a liberal-sided politician needs."

Despite commentary on masking and statements disagreeing with Texas' new controversial abortion laws, McConaughey continues to avoid political affiliation. The ambiguity is intentional—he said in the Sway interview that he believes it necessary to be "aggressively centrist" in order to "salvage democracy."

"People want a third party and we've got one and it doesn't have a name right now and it is the majority," McConaughey said. "I'm hesitant to throw labels... but there is a sleeping giant right now."

While he'd be the first independent elected to the governor's office since 1859 if he succeeded, the tactic could pay off in an increasingly politically frustrated population, especially with Beto a strong candidate on the Democratic ticket.

Still, some of that easy agreeableness will surely fade if the actor is to enter the political domain. The move seems less likely with each coming interview, but voters could still see the McConaughey name in the ballot box if he decides he can make a real impact.

"Is that a place to make real change or is it a place where right now it's a fixed game, you go in there, you just put on a bunch of band-aids, in four years you walk out and they rip them off and you're gone?" McConaughey said. "I'm not interested in that."

McConaughey will need to decide whether or not to shake up the gubernatorial race by Dec. 13, the deadline for all candidates to file their bids.


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