“Governor” Matthew McConaughey may hold appeal for many, but the star of make-believe needs to eventually face reality.
For months, there have been more than whispers floating around that actor Matthew McConaughey is seriously considering throwing his Stetson in the ring as a potential candidate for the governor of Texas. There are factors making this — at the very least — a tantalizing concept; mainly, that he continues to be a longtime resident and an alumnus of the University of Texas. Add in some community involvement and public service, and you have a fixture not just with movie fans but also with residents.
But, how realistic is this? The idea of him running appears to be solidifying, moving beyond the trial balloon stage. The actor has been rather open in his interest for some time, and with mounting speculation, we now get served a serious article from Politico exploring the concept.
This has to be seen as a placed news item to further entrench him with state leaders, even as the article claims his party allegiance is a mystery. McConaughey has shown he is something of an iconoclast when it comes to celebrity thinking, and this could explain why, while It seems unlikely on the surface, there is a realistic possibility behind his intentions.
One of the interesting realities with Hollywood and politics is that, for all of the social posturing and policy ideas they perpetually float, celebrities rarely enter into the political arena. Consider how so many of them are concentrated in California and yet, so few have entered the arena. Beyond the standouts like Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Clint Eastwood you cannot find too many, other examples, and none considered to be A-list luminaries. You need to scale further down the ‘alphabet’ to find Fred Grandy (“Gopher,” from “The Love Boat”), Ben Jones (“Cooter,” from “The Dukes Of Hazzard”), or comedian Al Franken.
So, a McConaughey appearance on Election Day would become a rare starring role, but which party’s cast would he be found top-listing? The fact that there is no firm obvious landing spot for him indicates that, so far, he has yet to declare positional opinions on many issues. Or any, for that matter. Politico noted this cipher character trait is in play, for the moment.
McConaughey has been peppered with questions about politics and news of the day while promoting his memoir, “Greenlights,” but overall, has been vague about his political leanings, saying little about specific issues or policies.
A recent poll had respondents saying they would vote for McConaughey over Greg Abbott — 45% to 33% — but this is before there has been any position taken by the actor on any issue. Once he begins declaring where he stands, the natural political polarity will come into play. It is easy to curry support from the populace when you have no controversial or opposing viewpoints. Or any at all.
So, what candidate would McConaughey likely become? A little study shows where his name is likely perched on a ballot, should he officially declare. First, appearing on the Republican ticket is unlikely. Though Governor Greg Abbott has seen his solid position become slightly shaken after the ice storm energy crisis, and some questionable pandemic decisions, his support in the party remains high. Also seen are a number of names who have pledged to run against Abbott, a collection of state party politicians crowding the field, and likely to highlight McConaughey’s lack of political heft.
However, he is not a lock as a Democrat either — Hollywood bona fides notwithstanding. Recently, McConaughey has been prone to be audibly critical of the Hollywood machine in regards to its social stances. He has pointed out how insular the thinking is in that industry and that they manage to distance themselves from a large segment of the country with their lectures and accusatory language. Also a possible challenge — he has been avowed in his faith, unafraid to speak openly of his religious views.
Then, there is a consideration of running as an independent/third-party choice, something that strategically is beyond challenging. He would need to pull in money from different, non-traditional sources for one, and his positions would not mean the money will flow in automatically from Hollywood. The likelihood of pulling in enough support from both parties is a longshot, and this would, in fact, diminish the seriousness of his running for the office. The Independent tag would carry a discount-brand label that repels many voters, too.
Weighing everything, if he were to be a serious candidate, it looks like the Democratic ticket would be the most sensible route. His various conservative or Libertarian views might otherwise be seen as disqualifying, but in Texas, those stances would make him more palatable. Also, the field of Dems so far does not show any names with serious gravity. Resident and D.C. fixture Julian Castro is bandied about as a potential name, and multi-losing, perpetual candidate Beto O’Rourke is another weak consideration. McConaughey would have little problem gaining notice in that lineup of character actors.
At the moment, however, McConaughey is basking in the warm glow of widespread support, buoyed by the fact few — if any — of his political opinions are known. He is in that early promotional stage seen with movies, where short clips and brief snippets of plot details are released to tease audiences. Eventually, he will have to reveal his plot and open himself up to the critics, and audiences.
As Politico states, For now, vagueness is serving McConaughey just fine.