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Matthew McConaughey says he will not run for Texas governor

This story, originally published in The Dallas Morning News, is reprinted as part of a collaborative partnership between The Dallas Morning News and Texas Metro News. The partnership seeks to boost coverage of Dallas’ communities of color, particularly in southern Dallas.

The actor said in a video that political leadership is a path he is “choosing not to take at this moment.”
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DMN File Photo(Louis DeLuca – Staff Photographer)

By Nataly Keomoungkhoun and Mede Nix

Actor Matthew McConaughey said Sunday evening that he has decided not to run for Texas governor after considering the idea for several months.

In a three-minute video posted to his Twitter and Instagram accounts, the Oscar winner said that he was humbled to be reg

Actor Matthew McConaughey said Sunday evening that he has decided not to run for Texas governor after considering the idea for several months.

In a three-minute video posted to his Twitter and Instagram accounts, the Oscar winner said that he was humbled to be regarded as a possible candidate but that it is a path he is “choosing not to take at this moment.”

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arded as a possible candidate but that it is a path he is “choosing not to take at this moment.”

“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,” he said. “It’s a humbling and inspiring path to ponder.”

McConaughey, 52, said that as he was considering running for governor, he was learning about Texas and American politics and found that “we have some problems that we need to fix.”

“We’ve gotta start shining a light on our shared values — the ones that cross party lines, the ones that build bridges instead of burning them,” he said. “I’ve learned that with freedom comes responsibility and that great leaders serve.”

McConaughey said he would continue to be of service in other ways, by supporting “entrepreneurs, businesses and foundations that I believe are leaders.”

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He signed off in the video with “Until next time, just keep livin’.”

McConaughey, who first came to prominence for his role in the movie Dazed and Confused in 1993, won an Academy Award for his role in Dallas Buyers Club, a 2013 film about the early days of the AIDS epidemic. He was named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man Alive” for 2005.

His announcement came almost two weeks after Democrat Beto O’Rourke launched his campaign for governor. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott filed for a third term Tuesday.

A campaign representative for O’Rourke declined to comment, as did a spokesman for Abbott’s campaign.

Alice Stewart, the former communications director for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, said on CNN Sunday evening that the actor had raised some important issues in his announcement.

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“He did talk about the political discourse in this country and lowering the temperature and the need for making sure that we have elected officials that serve people for all the right reasons,” she said.

Democratic analyst Paul Begala spoke about McConaughey’s decision after he was asked on CNN about U.S. House GOP leaders’ failure to condemn Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert for implying that Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota had been mistaken for a terrorist in an elevator on Capitol Hill.

”Perhaps this is why Matthew doesn’t want to get into politics,” Begala said. “And in that sense, I can’t blame him. He’s a creative genius, and a great guy and brother Longhorn. And I love the guy. But that’s a good example of how broken politics is.”

Polls showed McConaughey could have been a significant force in the governor’s race. A Dallas Morning News/UT-Tyler poll released earlier this month found that by nearly 2-to-1, all voters would be more likely to support McConaughey than O’Rourke. Pluralities of Democrats and independents wanted the movie star to run. The poll also showed him leading Abbott by eight points in a head-to-head matchup.

Pollster Mark Owens, a political scientist at UT-Tyler, said most of McConaughey’s possible candidacy relied on his name recognition and how much he would resonate with independent voters. Without him in the race, Abbott has a clearer shot in the primary, Owens said.

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“Matthew McConaughey would have been more known by voters across the state than the candidates who previously announced they would run in the Republican primary,” he said. “And so this continues to keep Governor Abbott in a very good position to regain that nomination.”

McConaughey never declared whether he would run as a Republican or a Democrat. By 65% to 11%, Democratic voters who responded to the poll believed O’Rourke offers the best chance for Democrats to break a statewide losing streak that dates to 1998.

In the hypothetical three-way general election contest, Abbott was the choice of 37%; McConaughey 27%; and O’Rourke 26%. Ten percent of voters want someone else.

The deadline to file for the primaries or declare an independent candidacy is Dec. 13.

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

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

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