McConaughey: Er … nope

Established: Matthew McConaughey has enough sense to realize when he has it good. Looks like Robert “Beto” O’Rourke will need a Plan B to unseat Greg Abbott in Texas:

Actor Matthew McConaughey announced Sunday in a video message on Twitter that a future in political leadership is not in the cards — right now.

After acknowledging that he had taken time exploring politics and considered a run for the governor of Texas, McConaughey said he’s decided to focus his efforts in the private sector.

“As a simple kid born in the little town of Uvalde, Texas, it never occurred to me that I would one day be considered for political leadership. It is a humbling and inspiring path to ponder. It is also a path that I’m choosing not to take at this moment,” he said.

The video at times veers between startling wisdom and slogan salad, but it’s clear that McConaughey’s heart is in the right place. And who knows? From what he lays out in this video, it sounds like Republicans might at some point convince him to test out his leadership skills. At least, he might connect well with Republicans who still believe in small-government, private-sector solutions to issues and to dialogue rather than demagoguery to achieve those solutions. His focus going forward, McConaughey says, will be on …

“Establishments that I believe are creating pathways for people to succeed in life. Organizations that have a mission to serve and build trust while also generating prosperity — that’s the American dream,” McConaughey said. “Politicians, the good ones, can help us get to where we need to go … but let’s be clear, they can’t do anything for us unless we choose to do for ourselves.”

That’s almost right out of the Americans for Prosperity playbook. If McConaughey can build a track record of success in doing that in Texas, then perhaps he won’t even need a political party to win an election. You can bet, however, that one of the two will draft him at some point if McConaughey really does focus on private-sector service and succeeds in building up communities.

But for now, let’s get back to the reality of a two-man race next November. O’Rourke had to hope that McConaughey would jump into the race and bleed off support from Abbott, who’s not the most popular Republican in Texas at the moment. Abbott will face primary challengers in this cycle, although whether those will be serious enough for him to spend significant dollars on defense is anyone’s guess. Abbott will likely end up getting the establishment to rally around him more quickly with O’Rourke and his massive fundraising ability in the race, whether they are enthralled with the incumbent or not.

Even so, O’Rourke isn’t much of a challenger, at least not thus far. In the spotty polling that has taken place over the last couple of months, Abbott might be stuck in the mid-40s, but Beto can’t get out of the 30s. Only in one poll, a Rice University survey on behalf of the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation, has O’Rourke broken through into the 40s — and he still got edged by Abbott, 43/42. Otherwise, Abbott leads O’Rourke in other polls outside of the margins of error, and RCP has his aggregate average at +5.4 points above O’Rourke.

Normally, one would consider O’Rourke’s position in single digits behind an incumbent to be a pretty good spot one year out from the election. Perhaps that would be true … if Beto wasn’t already Beto! Texans have seen him run in two high-profile campaigns already — statewide against Ted Cruz for the Senate, and then nationally for the Democratic presidential nomination. It seems odd to say, but Matthew McConaughey is much more of a political unknown than O’Rourke, with much more upside among voters who don’t know his politics. (Even after this video, that pretty much includes everyone, no?)

In contrast, Beto! is practically a household brand now in Texas, and … that’s not a good thing. It also leaves O’Rourke with almost no upside, as he’s an unknown quantity to few if any Texas voters by now. Maybe Texas voters won’t be thrilled to vote for another Abbott term, but in comparison, they may say all right all right all right all right all the way to the voting booths.

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