It was right in the middle of the COVID-19 lockdowns in Texas that I was at a charity event and got locked into a conversation with someone who worked in the Democrat campaign scene. Somehow, our conversation turned to Matthew McConaughey. Having just listened to the audiobook version of his book “Greenlights” I had the guy fresh on the mind.
The woman I was talking to informed me that there’s been talk in her circles that McConaughey was in discussions about running for office. I had gotten the sneaking suspicion that he was on his way there anyway due to his thoroughly dipped toe in political matters and conversations, but this more or less confirmed it to me.
Then, imagine my non-surprise when my colleague Alex Parker threw this article up on the site on Wednesday evening.
“[I’m] looking into now, again, what is my leadership role? Because I do think I have some things to teach and share, and what is my role? What’s my category in my next chapter of life that I’m going into?” is the quote that spurred the news world into a frenzy.
We can deduce two things here. One, that McConaughey says he’s “considering” but that he’s been putting pieces in place to run based on the conversation I had with my campaign-linked friend. The other is that, if my friend’s info is true, he’s seeking the help of Democrat-leaning campaigners which may mean that he’s looking to run with a “D” next to his name.
Keep in mind, using Democrat-leaning campaigners doesn’t necessarily mean he’s running as a Democrat. He could be entering as an Independent or even a Libertarian, which may be the wiser choice in the still-red state of Texas. Also, we need to keep in mind that McConaughey has spent a good amount of time making his political leanings slightly ambiguous as he has refused to embrace the doctrines, talking points, or assume battle lines of either side. His book “Greenlights” didn’t really help in putting him in either party either, but while he did make a few nods and agreements with the Democrat party side of things, his recent forays into the news cycle show that he’s not a fan of the left’s illiberality, and seems to understand very well why conservatives and fans of Hollywood at all.
McConaughey may be the most politically androgynous person to enter the fray in a very long time. He could fall on either side, or neither.
But can he win?
The answer is “it’s very likely.” For someone like McConaughey, the iron has never been hotter, and striking it is a no-brainer.
For one, he’s spent a lot of time generating love on both sides of the political aisle. His built-in fandom from his Hollywood movies won him a lot of hearts (especially Texan hearts) but his positions and comments have also won the attention of people on every side of the political spectrum. He has a very common-sense approach to many situations, and reading his book gives you a look into a man who is very honest about his faults, his thought processes, his beliefs, and his penchant for liberality in the true sense.
It’s all very Texan in a way that both suburbia and Austin can get behind.
But as his cred grows, the door is further opening thanks to the sinking cred of his would-be opponent.
Greg Abbott’s choices during the COVID-19 pandemic have been less than pleasing to the vast majority of Texans. State-wide mask mandates and lockdown measures have been met with fierce opposition by former supporters, even among television and radio hosts that would hitherto sing his praises. This is only made worse by the fact that states like Florida have been leading the way in lifting restrictions, a job that many Texans believe was their state’s role.
According to the Texas Tribune, Abbott’s approval among Republicans slipped from 88 percent to 79 percent. Still, a high enough number to be considered very dangerous in a red state, and any Democrat would see that number and fear another loss.
But McConaughey isn’t just anyone. He’s a much-beloved celebrity with the backing of people in both parties. Abbott’s Republican approval rating may not save him when McConaughey enters the fray and convinces both parties to vote for him. What’s more, as Texas fills with refugees from starkly blue states, they’ll be more geared to vote for someone a bit more middle of the road.
Turning Texas purple has been a thing making Democrats salivate for years, and if the key to making that happen is McConaughey, then they’ll throw all their weight behind him in order to make it happen. Republicans fear purple shades in Texas but may make the exception for McConaughey as he exhibits some very right-leaning qualities that make him seem more libertarian than Democrat, plus his open love of God puts many on the religious right square in his camp.
Time will tell, but McConaughey is perfectly positioned for a run and a win. Where McConaughey puts himself in terms of party branding will play a large factor. For now, all we can do is wait to see where he goes, but in the end, it may not even matter.