“He’s frustrated identical to me, identical to everyone else,” said State Senator Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat who represents Uvalde and who made his own interruption at one other Abbott news conference, urging the governor to call for a special session of the Texas Legislature to pass gun-control laws.
Mr. O’Rourke’s campaign for governor is an uphill battle that some say stays all but inconceivable in Texas, where Republicans have a solid grip on state power.
No Democrat has won a statewide race in Texas since November 1994 and no Democrat has occupied the governor’s mansion since January 1995, the last day of Gov. Ann W. Richards’s tenure. Despite years of Democratic guarantees of a blue wave, Texas keeps passing and enforcing among the most conservative policies within the country. Democratic organizers proceed to grapple with low voter turnout as Republicans have made gains in South Texas border cities. And within the governor’s race, Mr. Abbott has a big financial advantage — he had nearly $50 million in money readily available in comparison with Mr. O’Rourke’s roughly $6.8 million as of Feb. 19, in line with the most recent Texas Ethics Commission filings.
“Their prospects are bleak,” said Cal Jillson, a political analyst and professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “In 12 months, they will win some down-ballot offices and even some Texas state legislative seats, but they’ve not been in a position to break through statewide, and 2022 just isn’t shaping as much as be 12 months.”
For the longtime Democratic strategists and activists who’ve been working to show the state blue, recent electoral contests have left them without delay optimistic and apprehensive. Mr. O’Rourke’s Senate bid in 2018 re-energized the party and helped sway down-ballot races in favor of Democrats as he got here inside three percentage points of unseating Senator Ted Cruz.
But Texas Republicans were aided by higher turnout in smaller counties within the 2020 election, and people largely rural areas have been shifting much more to the suitable. In a Republican primary runoff for attorney general two weeks ago, Ken Paxton, the Trump-backed incumbent, trounced George P. Bush, the state’s land commissioner and the last member of the Bush family still in public office.
Mr. O’Rourke, the previous El Paso congressman, has solid the race between himself and Mr. Abbott as a selection between old leadership beholden to the gun lobby and his vision for a state where “weapons of war” are faraway from civilian life. On the Dallas forum on Wednesday, he said he had rushed the stage to confront the governor in Uvalde because he wished someone had done the identical after a mass shooting at a Walmart in his hometown of El Paso in 2019.