Despite strong poll numbers suggesting he’d be the leader in a race for Texas governor, actor Matthew McConaughey said in a video posted to his social media pages on Sunday evening that public office is “a path I’m choosing not to take at this moment.”
“I’m going to continue to work and invest the bounty I have in supporting entrepreneurs, businesses and foundations that I believe are leaders,” the Oscar-winning actor said in the three-minute video.
A recent Dallas Morning News poll showed that among Texans, McConaughey polled best in a hypothetical race against incumbent Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke, with 44% of those polled saying they would vote for McConaughey compared to 35% for Abbott in a head-to-head race while 49% would pick him head-to-head against O’Rourke. Amid the media buzz, it has been unclear whether McConaughey would campaign with a political party or as an independent.
McConaughey said he “never imagined” he would be in a position where people would seriously consider electing him to public office, and said that he explored the possibility of entering the political sphere. But he will instead continue his work through his nonprofit organization Just Keep Livin’, which provides fitness and support programs for teens in inner-city high schools.
McConaughey’s departure clears the way for a 2022 showdown between Abbott and O’Rourke, with the former seeking a third term as governor. Abbott has polarized Texans with his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and refusal to enforce social distancing and vaccination requirements at businesses.
Even among some Republicans who support such policies, he has been criticized for the decline of Texas’ utility infrastructure. Since the start of the pandemic, Abbott’s approval rating has fallen from around 55% in April to 43% now, according to FiveThirtyEight.
But O’Rourke, one of the most high-profile Democrats in the state after his 2020 presidential primary campaign, faces his own challenges next year, particularly for his stances on gun control stemming back to a primary debate in which he said, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.” A recent Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation poll found that Abbott and O’Rourke had equal unfavorability ratings with 47% of those polled disapproving of both candidates.
As for McConaughey’s career in Hollywood, the actor will soon be promoting the Universal/Illumination animated film “Sing 2,” which is set for release in December, and is attached to star in an HBO miniseries based on John Grisham’s “A Time for Mercy.”
Watch the full video from Matthew McConaughey below.