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Matthew McConaughey says he’ll make a decision on Texas governor run ‘shortly’

The deadline to file for the Republican or Democratic primary — or to declare as an independent candidate — is Dec. 13.

Actor Matthew McConaughey promised a decision on whether he’ll run for Texas governor “shortly” in an interview with Hollywood Reporter published Tuesday.

The actor, who’s been talking about making a run for the office for months, talked about his decision-making process in a wide-ranging interview with the show business publication. The deadline to file for the Republican or Democratic primary — or to declare as an independent candidate — is Dec. 13.

“I’m a storyteller. I’m a CEO. But being CEO of a state?” he said. “Am I best equipped for the people in the state, and for my family and myself? There’s great sacrifice that comes with a decision. That’s what I’ve been doing, and there’s no tease to it. There’s me doing my diligence, and I will let you know shortly.”

McConaughey said he wasn’t being coy about the race.

“It’s a new embassy of leadership that I have really been doing my diligence to study, to look into, to question what it is, what would it be for me,” he said. “Not the question of, ‘Hey, do you think I could win?’ No. Let’s talk about what Texas politics is. Talk about a policy statement.”

The interview with the Hollywood Reporter came days after Democrat Beto O’Rourke entered the race for governor. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott officially filed for a third term on Tuesday. Abbott will face several primary challengers.

McConaughey, also a best-selling author, was asked his reaction about O’Rourke entering the race.

“I missed the news. I figured he would,” he said.

A Dallas Morning News/University of Texas-Tyler poll released Sunday showed that in a three-way race with Abbott, O’Rourke and McConaughey, Abbott had 37% of registered voters polled with McConaughey at 27% and O’Rourke at 26%.

Those polled said they’d support McConaughey over Abbott, 43% to 35%, with 22% wanting someone else to run.

But by nearly 2-to-1, all voters would be more likely to support McConaughey than O’Rourke. Pluralities of Democrats and independents want the Oscar-winning movie star and products endorser to run.

Still, McConaughey doesn’t have a clear path if he were to decide to run. By 65%-11%, Democratic voters believe O’Rourke is the best opportunity for Democrats to break a statewide losing streak dating to 1998.

The poll, conducted Nov. 9-16, surveyed 1,106 adults who are registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.

McConaughey hasn’t said whether he would run as a Republican or Democrat. He could run as an independent, but would face some hurdles to qualify for the ballot.

An independent candidate would have to file intent to run by Dec. 13, and then collect signatures of 1% of the number of voters who voted in the 2018 gubernatorial election — a minimum of 83,435 signatures. The signatures must also be from voters who did not vote in the 2022 March primary or May primary runoff elections. The deadline for turning in those signatures to the Texas secretary of state is June 23, 2022.

“It’s a bunch,” said former state Rep. Glen Maxey, an Austin Democrat knowledgeable about third-party and independent candidates’ ballot access. Historically, the Legislature has made it hard for independent candidates, he noted. Only a wealthy candidate or one with a big campaign account can hire the signature gatherers needed to get the required number of signatures.

The last significant Texas independent gubernatorial candidates were in 2006, when singer/humorist Kinky Friedman and former Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, lost to Rick Perry in 2006. Chris Bell was the Democratic candidate. Perry had 39% of the vote, Bell 30%, Strayhorn 18% and Friedman 13%.

Austin Bureau Chief Robert T. Garrett contributed to this report.

CORRECTION, 7:15 p.m., Nov. 24: An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect figure for the number of signatures needed to qualify as an independent candidate for governor.

Mede Nix, Politics Editor . Mede Nix has been an editor overseeing key coverage areas for The Dallas Morning News for the past 21 years. She’s is currently political editor, directing DMN reporters in Dallas, Austin and Washington. She also currently serves as president of the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors.

mnix@dallasnews.com medenix
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