Tag Archives: Beto O’Rourke

Entering crucial stage of midterm campaign

I’ve seen this kind of thing happen before. A “wave election” occurs when the least likely incumbent takes a fall, signaling a dramatic change in fortunes for the halls of Congress.

In 1994, I had a ringside seat for one of those events. Longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Jack Brooks of Beaumont represented one of Texas’s last Democratic bastions in the Golden Triangle. He’d been in Congress for more than four decades. His foe that year was a guy who came out of nowhere.

Steve Stockman shocked the political world by beating the late “Sweet Ol’ Brooks” to take his House seat as part of the Contract With America GOP delegation.

I figured at the time if Brooks was to lose, the entire House was going to flip. Sure enough. He did. The House did flip.

Stockman lasted one term before being defeated for re-election in 1996. He was elected again much later, but then lost again after another single term. He’s now facing prison time for fraud.

Fast-forward to the present day. Texas’s U.S. Senate seat is in play. Democrat Beto O’Rourke is trying to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in a state that is as Republican as it gets.

The way I figure it today, if somehow O’Rourke manages to pull off what looks like the Upset of the Ages, then the U.S. Senate stands a good chance of flipping from Republican to Democratic control.

It’s a steep hill for the El Paso congressman. He trails the Cruz Missile. But not by much. I see polls that swing from 2 points to 8 points. Cruz should — by standard political measures — be way up. He’s not.

O’Rourke well might lose on Nov. 6. I don’t want him or his allies to claim some sort of “moral victory” by making it close. A loss is a loss. For my money, Cruz needs to lose. He might represent a lot of Texans’ values. He doesn’t represent mine.

If the Cruz Missile gets blown out of the sky, then I am betting that the entire Senate turns over.

Believe me, stranger things have happened — just as it did in the Golden Triangle all those years ago.

Beto flush with cash, but will it deliver the votes?

Beto O’Rourke is raising lots of money in his quest to become the next U.S. senator from Texas.

Campaign finance records show that O’Rourke raised $38 million for the third quarter of 2018, a record for a Senate contest. His opponent, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz? About $12 million.

Here’s the question of the day: Will this prodigious fundraising by th Democratic challenger translate to votes in the fall? If it does, O’Rourke would become the first politician elected to a statewide office in Texas since 1994.

The Texas Tribune reported: “The people of Texas in all 254 counties are proving that when we reject PACs and come together not as Republicans or Democrats but as Texans and Americans, there’s no stopping us,” O’Rourke said in a statement.

I remain — much to my chagrin — skeptical at this moment that O’Rourke’s cache of cash is going to put him over the top. I keep seeing public opinion polls that put Cruz up by 4 to 6 percentage points. In a state as large as Texas, with its estimated 15 million registered voters, that remains a steep hill to climb, especially in Texas with its long-held tradition of electing candidates purely on the basis of their Republican Party affiliation.

I’ll stipulate once again that I intend to vote for O’Rourke on Nov. 6. I don’t want the Cruz Missile re-elected. I no longer want him representing my state. I am not a native Texan, but by God I’ve lived in the state long enough — more than 34 years — to declare my Texanhood.

My wife and I, after all, chose to live in Texas way back in 1984.

I do remain a bit dubious of candidates’ boasting of the amount of money they raise. O’Rourke is proud, as he declares, that the vast bulk of his campaign cash comes from individual donors. That’s highly commendable. Is it enough to put this young man over the top and into the Senate seat now occupied by Cruz?

What I don’t hear about is the so-called “ground game” that successful candidates deploy to win elections. A candidate with tons of dough need to invest that money in hiring individuals and groups of individuals to do the important work that needs doing, such as targeting the precincts where they see the greatest advantage.

Oh, and getting out the vote. Manning phone banks. Making calls constantly to Texans in those targeted precincts, encouraging them to get off their duffs to be sure to vote.

My hope is that Beto O’Rourke spends his money wisely and effectively, understanding full well that it shouldn’t burn a hole in his proverbial pocket.

How do foes become such good ‘friends’?

Politicians have this uncanny and maddening knack of burying the hatchet — and not in each others’ backs or skulls.

They campaign against each other, say some highly critical — even hurtful and hateful — things to and about each other. Then they declare winners and losers and all is forgiven. Ostensibly, at least.

They all do it. Democrats do it to each other, as do Republicans.

The latest example of this is in Texas, where GOP Sen. Ted Cruz is fighting for re-election to his seat against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

Cruz is enlisting the aid of a man he once labeled as “amoral,” a “pathological liar” and a “coward.”

Yes, I refer to the president of the United States, Donald Trump, against whom Cruz campaigned for the presidency in the 2016 GOP primary. You see, candidate Trump had called Cruz “Lyin’ Ted,” he implied that Cruz’s father might have been involved in President Kennedy’s murder and then he posted that hideous photo on Twitter of Cruz’s wife, Heidi.

Cruz was rightfully enraged, outraged and aghast at the treatment. That’s when he hung those epithets on his GOP foe.

Now he’s wanting Trump to campaign for him. All is forgiven. The sniveling sucking up that Cruz is performing hasn’t gone unnoticed out here in the rest of the state and the nation.

Frankly, he was right to say what he said about Trump during the GOP primary campaign. He is demonstrating a lack of spine now as he seeks the president’s help in his fight for re-election.

Sickening, man.

‘Tough as Texas’? Sure thing, Sen. Cruz

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is saying Beto O’Rourke isn’t Texan enough for Texas voters, that the state needs someone in the U.S. Senate who is as “tough as Texas.”

Cruz is the guy?

Get a load of this short video.

Tough as Texas

An actor, Sonny Carl Davis, says this: “If somebody called my wife a dog and said my daddy was in on the Kennedy assassination, I wouldn’t be kissing their ass. You stick a finger in their chest and give ’em a few choice words. Or you drag their ass out by he woodshed and kick their ass, Ted. Come on, Ted.”

Ted is as tough as Texas? Hmm. Hardly.

Donald Trump called him “Lyin’ Ted” and said Cruz’s father was seen talking to Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before Oswald murdered President Kennedy. And then we have that ghastly Twitter message that Trump sent out regarding Heidi Cruz.

It all enraged Sen. Cruz in the moment, when he and Trump were competing for the Republican Party presidential primary nomination.

Then Trump won. He got elected president and Cruz has become one of Trump’s staunchest political allies.

That’s not very “tough as Texas,” Sen. Cruz.

Now the senator is in the fight of his political life against O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger from El Paso.

I guess maybe I ought to add that O’Rourke was born in El Paso; Cruz was born in … um … Canada.

Beto doesn’t need Barack’s blessing?

Barack Obama is handing out political endorsements the way GIs handed out chocolate bars during World War II.

The former president has endorsed 11 Texas candidates — all Democrats, of course. Beto O’Rourke, the Democrat in the middle of a dogfight campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz hasn’t received an endorsement from the 44th president.

Not surprisingly, O’Rourke says he isn’t worried about it. He told the Texas Tribune he doesn’t need an endorsement from President Obama. According to the Tribune: “I don’t think we’re interested (in an endorsement)” O’Rourke said after a town hall … “I am so grateful to him for his service, he’s going to go down as one of the greatest presidents. And yet, this (election) is on Texas.”

Obama issues endorsements

There might be a couple of ways one can take that statement. One is that President Obama isn’t terribly popular in Texas; he lost the state to GOP rivals John McCain and Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012. Another is that the Texas election deals uniquely with Texas issues and that an endorsement from a national politician carries little weight.

Whatever he means, my sense is that he won’t disavow an Obama endorsement were it to come between now and Election Day.

How could a candidate refuse such a blessing from someone who — and I agree with O’Rourke on this one — is going to be remembered as one of the nation’s “greatest presidents”?

Beto vs. Cruz: Round One

I had wanted to attend the first debate between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke. It took place this evening in Dallas, at Southern Methodist University … just a few miles south of where I live.

But wouldn’t you know it? Family business took me away from the Metroplex and my wife and I are spending a few nights in Amarillo.

Cruz, the Republican U.S. senator, is trying to fend off a challenge from O’Rourke, the Democratic U.S. House member who wants to join the Club of 100, aka the U.S. Senate.

By all accounts, the men exchanged in a lively exchange. They traded a few insults, but generally minded their manners while talking to and about each other.

I am glad that these two fellows faced off in person. They’ll have two more of these joint appearances, in Houston and San Antonio.

From what I have read, I take heart in the view that O’Rourke did well in his debate with Cruz, a noted debater whose skills were honed at Harvard.

The event did include some tense moments, such as this one, as reported by CBS News:

The two also disagreed over what the punishment should be for the police officer who shot and killed Botham Jean, an unarmed black man, in his own apartment. Cruz said that O’Rourke had compared police officers to the “modern Jim Crow,” which he said was “offensive.” O’Rourke denied that he said police officers specifically were the “modern Jim Crow,” and accused Cruz of dissembling.

“This is your trick in the trade: to confuse, and to incite fear,” O’Rourke said to Cruz. He accused the senator repeatedly of misrepresenting his words.

What might we expect during the second and third debates? That well might depend on what polls show about the state of this campaign. It isn’t supposed to be this close … but it damn sure is! The candidates are running neck and neck in a state that has leaned Republican for the past two decades.

I’ll stipulate for the umpteenth time that I want O’Rourke to win this contest. There. That said, I also know it’s a steep climb for the young congressman from El Paso.

My hope is that if he fares as well in the next two debates as he did in this first one, O’Rourke will do just fine, although “just fine” doesn’t mean necessarily that I predict he’ll actually win.

Then again, I hope for all the world that O’Rourke can take down the Cruz Missile.

Those polls are all over the place

Beto O’Rourke leads Ted Cruz by 2 points in one poll.

Oh, but in another one Cruz leads O’Rourke by 9 points.

Who do you believe? Who do you want to believe? Me? I’ll go with the first one, because that’s what I want to happen on Election Day. I want O’Rourke, the Democrat who’s challenging the Republican Cruz for the U.S. Senate seat that Cruz now occupies.

The Ipsos poll done for Reuters puts O’Rourke ahead by a margin that makes the race a dead heat. It was an online poll of “likely voters.” The Quinnipiac poll was done over the phone; it shows Cruz with a fairly comfortable margin as the campaign heads toward its conclusion.

I know this much — which, admittedly isn’t all that much: O’Rourke making this race such a tight contest is news in and of itself.

Cruz represents Texas in the U.S. Senate. Texas is one of the most Republican states in America. He isn’t exactly a warm-and-fuzzy kind of guy. Cruz is a darling of the TEA Party wing of the GOP, the one that opposed Barack Obama’s presidential agenda every step of the way. He once led a phony filibuster in an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The idea that O’Rourke would make this a close contest boggles the mind of a lot of observers.

I believe O’Rourke still has a steep hill to climb if he hopes to knock Cruz off his Senate seat. The state still loves its Republican officeholders. No … matter … what!

However, just as Donald Trump proved every political “expert” wrong by being elected president in 2016, there remains a good bit of hope that Beto O’Rourke can upset the political gods yet again in Texas. That’s my hope anyway.

Willie gets flak for backing Beto? Shocking!

Willie Nelson wants to play a free concert to gin up support for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke.

And to think that some Texans — maybe many of them — are upset that the Red-Headed Stranger would be backing O’Rourke in his bid to defeat Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz in the upcoming midterm election.

Shocking, I tell ya. Simply shocking that Nelson would back a Democrat.

Who did these critics suspect Nelson would back. Is he going to go with Cruz, the stuffed-shirt conservative? Hardly.

This backlash against Willie Nelson’s support for O’Rourke is hilarious to me. Nelson has made no secret of his support for progressive politicians and policies during his many years as a top-tier entertainer and occasional political activist.

Sure, he hails from Abbott, a Central Texas town full of God-fearing political conservatives. Does that mean ol’ Willie is going to follow along? Of course it doesn’t mean that at all.

Nelson appeared on “The View” talk show this week. “I love flak,” he said. “We’re not happy ’til they’re not happy.”

“Everybody has an opinion,” he added added. “Everybody has a right to an opinion. I think I have one too.”

So, let the man sing and play that old guitar — the one that looks as though it’s been run over by a diesel tractor — on behalf of Beto O’Rourke.

His fans ought to give their protest over Nelson’s support of Beto a rest. What in the name of country croonin’ did they expect?

Big crowds don’t necessarily mean big vote totals

I must offer a word of caution to Beto O’Rourke’s fans who take great pride in the size of the crowds the U.S. senatorial candidate is drawing as he stumps his way across Texas.

The Democratic challenger to Sen. Ted Cruz has my vote. I want him to win in a big way. Cruz hasn’t distinguished himself as a champion for Texas causes and interests; he’s more fixated on his own ambition.

Having said that, Cruz must be considered the favorite to win re-election. Yes, polling indicates a close race. However, Texas is a Republican state. O’Rourke has to to overtake The Cruz Missile quickly and open up a bit of a spread between the two of them.

How does he do that? Well, he is drawing big crowds at rallies in rural Texas. Let me caution O’Rourke’s faithful followers: Big crowds don’t necessarily translate to a winning trajectory.

Example given: the 1972 presidential campaign of Sen. George McGovern.

I was a campus coordinator for Sen. McGovern in my native Oregon. I had returned from the Army in 1970. I was disillusioned about our Vietnam War policy. I spent some time in the war zone and came away confused and somewhat embittered.

I wanted Sen. McGovern to defeat President Nixon. He drew big crowds all across the nation as he campaigned for the presidency. They were vocal, boisterous, optimistic.

My task in college was to register new voters. We got a lot of new voters on the rolls that year. I was proud of my contribution.

On Election Night, it was over … just like that. The president was re-elected in a landslide. 520 electoral votes to 17. He won about 60 percent of the popular vote.

The big crowds, including a huge rally in the final days in downtown Portland, didn’t mean a damn thing!

Will history repeat itself in Texas in 2018? Oh, man, I hope not!

‘Open borders’: the stuff of demagogues

I am weary in the extreme of Donald John “Demagogue in Chief” Trump’s assertion that opposition to building a wall along our nation’s southern border means a favoring of “open borders.”

Trump wants to build that damn wall. Others don’t want it. I am one who opposes the wall. The nation is full of politicians who oppose construction of a wall, too.

Trump said initially Mexico would pay for it. Mexico responded, um, no we won’t. Now the president wants to stick U.S. taxpayers with the bill.

He’s planning to come to Texas soon to campaign for “Lyin’ Ted” Cruz (which is Trump’s one-time epithet for the Republican U.S. senator). Cruz favors the wall. His Democratic foe, Beto O’Rourke, opposes it. Trump will declare at some undisclosed political rally location that O’Rourke favors “open borders.” He’ll draw cheers, whoops and hollering from the crowd.

It’s a lie. Donald Trump knows it’s a lie, but he’ll say it time and again anyway.

I have grown weary of the demagoguery that keeps flowing from the president’s pie hole. This “open borders” canard is just one statement that I cannot let stand.

For the record, I favor stronger border security measures along our borders — south and north. I mean, if we’re going to insist on cracking down on illegal immigrants who try to sneak in along our southern border, then let’s devote more emphasis and energy along our northern border with Canada.

Walling off this nation from a neighbor with whom we share a 2,000-mile-long border is utterly un-American on its face. That doesn’t bother Trump, who took office without an understanding at any level of what this nation has stood for since its creation in the 18th century.

Does any reasonable American favor an “open border” where we don’t enforce immigration laws? Of course not!

Yet that doesn’t stop the demagogue who sits behind the big desk in the Oval Office from uttering the disgraceful rhetoric that suggests otherwise.

I grew sick of it long ago.