Actor Matthew McConaughey is reportedly serious about running for governor of Texas and has been making phone calls to people of influence about getting in the race.
According to Politico, the Academy Award winner has been “quietly making calls to influential people in Texas political circles, including a deep-pocketed moderate Republican and energy CEO, to take their temperature on the race and to talk about seriously throwing his hat in the ring.”
Politico noted that Texas political strategists do not see a solid path forward for McConaughey given the business community’s overwhelming support for Governor Greg Abbott and the fact that McConaughey would then be sacrificing his position as a cultural icon to become a political figure.
“I’m a little more surprised that people aren’t taking him more seriously, honestly,” said Austin-based GOP strategist Brendan Steinhauser. “Celebrity in this country counts for a lot … it’s not like some C-list actor no one likes. He has an appeal.”
As Howard Stern recently noted, the public’s perception of McConaughey would change dramatically the moment he revealed his political platform and beliefs, both of which he has been relatively vague about. “Once you run for office, you actually have to give an opinion,” Stern said.
McConaughey has not even stated what political party banner he would run for governor under.
“The question is: Would he run as a Republican? A Democrat? Independent? And where is he on the political scale? He says he has a funny phrase about being a hardcore centrist, but what party would he run under?” long-term GOP strategist Karl Rove openly wondered.
Should McConaughey run third-party, he would likely alienate Democrats that desperately seek to flip the state blue. Long-time Democratic strategist Paul Begala noted that Governor Rick Perry won the state handily in 2006 after two independents split the vote.
“The problem with running as an independent is we have seen this movie before,” said Begala. “Texas doesn’t need a third party, Matthew! We need a second party.”
McConaughey was expressly critical of Governor Abbott earlier this year in March, saying he was “dumbfounded” by the decision to remove the state’s mask mandate.
“My reaction to that is, I was a little dumbfounded by the decision,” he told CBS. “I understand ‘go back to work.’ What I did not understand was ‘pull the mask mandate.’”
“It’s not the mask we’re afraid of, c’mon. It’s the word ‘mandate.’ Let’s not let the word ‘mandate’ get in the way of practical use of this little tool called a mask. It’s just a small inconvenience today for more freedom tomorrow,” McConaughey continued.
Current polls show that McConaughey has a solid chance to win the Texas governorship, with a double-digit lead over Abbott. That could be subject to change the moment he reveals his political platform.