Tag Archives: Beto O’Rourke

The 2020 horse race has begun

Candidates say they dislike it. So do journalists who cover these events.

But bet on it! The 2020 presidential campaign/horse race has commenced. The media are all over themselves in covering who’s up and who’s down in the upcoming Democratic Party presidential primary campaign.

MoveOn.org, the left-leaning political action group, now has Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke narrowly ahead in the race to become the Democrats’ next presidential nominee. Former Vice President Joe Biden is right behind him.

Beto’s fans are no doubt going nuts. Fine. Let ’em whoop and holler!

I find this kind of coverage annoying in the extreme. Why?

For starters, Beto O’Rourke’s poll standing doesn’t mean a damn thing. It won’t matter at the end of this week, let alone next week. It could change overnight. These polls are as fluid as running water.

The 2016 Republican primary campaign revealed the same kind of shallowness of the media coverage of these issues. The media become fixated on the “horse race” element, not the issues on which the candidates are running.

So it is shaping up for the 2020 Democratic primary campaign.

Beto is up this week. Last week it was Joe Biden. Sen. Kamala Harris might emerge as next week’s media favorite. Then there’s former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who has formed an exploratory committee to assess whether he wants to run for president in 2020.

The media are going to be all over this horse race matter.

I tend to tune this stuff out fairly quickly once the coverage begins. The media — the very people who say they detest this sort of political coverage — are forcing me to close my ears early.

Good news, bad news on Texas midterm election turnout

The Texas Tribune is reporting a classic good news-bad news story as it relates Texas’s voter turnout in the 2018 midterm election.

The good news? Texas is among the nation’s leading states in the increase in voter turnout over the 2014 midterm election. Texans boosted their midterm turnout this year by 18 percent, ranking No. 6 nationally.

The national increase in turnout was 13 percent, the Tribune reports. Hey, that’s good, right? Of course it is!

The turnout boost no doubt was fueled by the extraordinary interest in the race for the U.S. Senate, which Republican Sen. Ted Cruz won narrowly over Democratic challenger U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke.

Oh, but then there’s the bad news. You ready? Texas still voted below the national average. Total voter turnout percentage ranked us at No. 40 nationally. That’s bad, yes? Yep. I am afraid so.

The lack of competitive statewide races has helped drive down Texas voter participation. This year was remarkably different, as the increase over the 2014 midterm turnout illustrates.

Read the Tribune story here

However, we had a huge hill to climb from the near bottom of all the states in voter turnout.

Baby steps, though, are better than no steps. So we’ve taken some big steps toward improving our participation in this thing called “representative democracy.”

I’ll take the good news any day of the week.

I, Robert Francis ‘Beto’ O’Rourke, do solemnly swear . . . ‘

Roll that around in your mouth a time or three, maybe four.

Might it be what we hear in Jan. 20, 2021 at the next presidential inauguration? Some progressive pundits and pols are hoping it happens. I remain dubious, but perhaps a little less so than I was immediately after Beto O’Rourke lost his bid to become the next U.S. senator from Texas.

O’Rourke came within a couple of percentage points of upsetting Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. For a Democrat to come within a whisker of beating a GOP Texas politician has many on the left still all agog.

O’Rourke has changed his tune. He said the Senate race was 100 percent on his mind. He now says he is not ruling out anything. That he might be a presidential candidate in 2020. He’s going to take some time with his wife, Amy, and the three kids he featured prominently in his 2018 Senate campaign to ponder his future.

O’Rourke’s congressional term ends in early January. He’ll return home to El Paso and give thought to running for the highest office in America.

My desire for the Democratic Party remains for it to find a candidate lurking in the tall grass that no one has heard of. Beto no longer fits that description. He became a national phenomenon with his narrow loss to the Cruz Missile.

He’ll keep fighting Donald Trump’s desire to build a wall along our southern border; he’ll fight for comprehensive immigration reform. He said he plans to stay in the game. He plans to have his voice heard.

He might want to parlay his immense national political star status into a legitimate campaign for the presidency. My hope is that is he stays on the sidelines for 2020. However, in case he decides to take the plunge into extremely deep political water . . . well, I’m all in.

Beware of what we wish for?

Man, oh man. I might regret getting my wish if it comes true.

I have stated already my hope that Texas becomes a major act in the 2020 presidential nominating and election process. According to the Texas Tribune, that well might be happening even as we digest our Thanksgiving turkey and all the sides that came with it.

The Tribune reports that Beto O’Rourke, the failed Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, Julian Castro, the former San Antonio mayor and housing secretary for President Obama, and U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, the Republican senator who’s up for re-election in 2020 are getting set to be heard.

That means Texas is going to be smack on center stage in this coming election cycle. Just think: We just got through a tumultuous midterm election that saw the House of Reps turn from GOP to Democrat and O’Rourke damn near knocking off Sen. Ted Cruz in that campaign for the Republican’s Senate seat. Oh, yes: O’Rourke’s near miss occurred in heavily GOP Texas.

Why the possible regret over getting my wish? The TV airwaves are going to be full — as in brimming full — of political ads that will repeat themselves ad nauseum. I’ve already griped about the midterm TV ad fare that kept playing on Metroplex stations. Enough already!

So we’ll have the primary election March 2020 that will feature an expected horde of Democrats running for president. One of them might be O’Rourke; I hope the young man doesn’t do it, because — in my view — he ain’t ready.

Then we’ll have the Democratic presidential nominee, whoever he/she is, likely squaring off against the Republican nominee. It appears that would be Donald John Trump, the incumbent president; then again, one never knows.

So we’re going to get a Texas-size snootful from all the players — big and small — on the national stage.

The past few election cycles have been conducted in states far away from Texas. Those other states have served as battlegrounds where the major parties have fought against each.

Texas well might join the “fun” in 2020.

Are you ready for it? Neither am I.

Beto seeking to channel Honest Abe?

I already have declared my belief that Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke shouldn’t run for president of the United States in 2020. My belief is that he doesn’t yet have the seasoning or the experience to take on such a monstrous responsibility.

But then . . .

A thought occurs to me.

Another American politician lost a bitter campaign to the U.S. Senate and two years later he, too, was elected president.

Abraham Lincoln, anyone?

Lincoln ran for the Senate from Illinois, but lost to Stephen A. Douglas in 1858. The failed Senate candidate already had served in the U.S. House, but decided to push for higher office.

Having lost that bid, Lincoln licked his wounds — and then decided to go for an even bigger prize in 1860. That year he was elected president, but after he was nominated by the Republican National Convention on the third ballot. It was a struggle to win the party nomination. Lincoln’s presidency would prove to be the ultimate trial by fire, with the nation ripped apart by the Civil War.

OK, let’s hit the fast-forward button for a moment.

Does this sound like a scenario that Beto O’Rourke might follow were he to declare his own presidential candidacy? Democratic party activists and big-money donors say they want him to consider it. They like the young man’s energy and the passion he infuses into his supporters. He damn near beat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in heavily Republican Texas earlier this month and that has Democrats all agog over his future.

The Washington Post reports that O’Rourke’s near-success in Texas has turned the Democratic primary outlook into a chaotic mess.

O’Rourke, who’s finishing his term as a congressman from El Paso, will enter private life and just might consider whether to make the plunge yet again, only reaching for the very top rung on the ladder.

Or . . . he might decide to take on Texas’s senior U.S. senator, John Cornyn, in 2020.

I remain a bit dubious about O’Rourke’s presidential timbre.

However, I am somewhat heartened to realize that there’s precedent for what the young man might decide to do. If he hears the voice calling him to run for the Big Job, he might do well to look back on Honest Abe’s effort two-plus centuries ago. It might give him the strength to plunge ahead.

Did Cruz and O’Rourke bury the hatchet?

This story makes me smile and gives me hope about the future of political debate and discourse in the United States of America.

Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke — who have just completed a fiery-hot campaign for Cruz’s Senate seat — bumped into each other at George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport. O’Rourke, who lost narrowly to Cruz, initiated the contact between them. They spoke cordially for some time, talking about how they can “move forward” from the election that just ended.

According to Click2HoustonTexas A&M student Tiffany Easter witnessed the moment and posted a recap on her Facebook and Twitter pages Tuesday.

In her Facebook post, Easter said she was waiting to board a flight to Washington when she noticed that both O’Rourke and Cruz were about to board the same flight.

“Beto noticed Ted sitting down and walked over to congratulate him on his re-election campaign,” Easter wrote. “It was the first time they had seen each other since the election, and the entire conversation was both of them talking about how they could move forward together.”

This makes me smile because the campaign the men waged was among the more aggressive in the country. It drew national attention, given the closeness of the contest.

I suppose one could have expected the men to maybe shake hands, nod at each other and then part company. They didn’t.

Their cordial encounter gives me a glimmer of hope that even the most intense political opponents can realize that politics is just part of who they are and what they do.

Beto in 2020? Hmm, let’s slow it down

Beto O’Rourke certainly captured the nation’s attention even though he lost a tough race for the U.S. Senate from Texas.

The Democratic challenger came within about 3 percentage points of knocking off Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, a conservative stalwart representing a conservative state.

What’s next for Beto? Some folks want him to run for president of the United States in 2020. To which I would implore: Hold on a minute! Let’s get over our star-struck infatuation, shall we?

I supported O’Rourke’s candidacy. I talked about him as much as I thought reasonable in this blog. I am sorry he lost. He would make a fine U.S. senator. He’s conscientious, dedicated to the state and unlike Cruz he seems more interested in my worries than his own political ambition.

Beto-mania heats up

However, I want him to take reset on this presidential business.

Yes, I want a fresh face to emerge as the Democrats’ foe to face Donald Trump, the Republican president. I also would like that challenger to have some seasoning. I don’t know that O’Rourke — the congressman from El Paso — has acquired it just yet.

The chatter and clamor for O’Rourke to run for president appears to my thinking to be more a result of the celebrity status he gained through the nature of his campaign for Texas. He visited all 254 counties. He campaigned hard in the most GOP-friendly parts of the state. Beto gave it his best shot. He became something of a political heartthrob.

Beating hearts aren’t enough to qualify for the most serious, high-minded, toughest job on Planet Earth. We are learning, too, that business and reality TV experience aren’t enough, either, to equip someone to deal daily with the myriad problems affecting the entire world.

Beto well could get ready over time for the toughest job on Earth.

Just not yet.

Might the battleground be expanded for 2020?

Texas remains a “red” state. Just as California remains a “blue” state.

“Red” means Republican; “blue” means Democratic.

That is how political media and political operatives refer to the country. Red or blue. There’s also “purple,” which is what you get when you combine red with blue. “Purple” states are those that aren’t strongly either red or blue. It’s a blended color connoting the conflict between the parties for control of the political palette.

The midterm election drew a lot of eyes toward Texas. We had a competitive race for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Republican Ted Cruz. The Democratic challenger, Beto O’Rourke, came within 3 percentage points of knocking Cruz off. That’s not supposed to happen in a strongly “red” state such as Texas. It did and now Democratic activists, strategists and assorted other partisans believe Texas stands on the cusp of turning purple.

Maybe. I would have thought so had Democrats been able to capture a single statewide office at the end of the midterm election balloting.

Here, though, is what might happen when the 2020 presidential campaign kicks into high gear: Texas might become much more of a “battleground state” that attracts presidential candidates for events other than closed-door, high-dollar fundraisers.

I’m beginning now to fantasize about big crowds gathering at rallies in Dallas or Fort Worth when the 2020 candidates start mapping out where the votes are.

Residents of places like Ohio, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Colorado, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania long have been courted by presidential hopefuls. Texas? Pffftt! The pols haven’t given so much as a first look, let alone a second look.

Democratic candidates for president have given up on Texas. Republican candidates have taken us for granted. Beto’s showing against Cruz might serve as a wakeup call for presidential candidates on both sides of the chasm.

Come the next election year, there could be a realization at campaign HQs in both parties that Texas’s 38 electoral votes are worth fighting for. We could see presidential nominees traipsing through State Fair crowds in Dallas in September of 2020. Our airwaves might be flooded with campaign ads. So might our mailboxes.

I’m not yet ready to declare that such an activity officially makes Texas a “purple” state. We’re still red, although after the midterm election it looks as though Texas isn’t quite as red as it has been since, oh, forever.

Texas Democrats find the spring in their step

The just-concluded 2018 midterm election has produced a fascinating result in Texas.

The long-downtrodden Texas Democratic Party has rediscovered its mojo. Its members have a renewed spring in their step. They fell short in their goal of electing one of their own to a statewide office, but the fellow at the top of the ballot — Beto O’Rourke — came within 3 percentage points of defeating GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

That’s not supposed to happen in blood-red Texas, which hasn’t elected a Democrat to a statewide office since 1994; the last Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate was Lloyd Bentsen, in 1988.

Now comes word out of Austin that the selection of the next Texas speaker of the House of Representatives will involve more Democratic votes among the 150 legislators.

Democrats carved into the GOP legislative majority. They’ll fill 67 seats in the 2019 Legislature; Republicans will occupy 83 of them.

That means Democrats will get to speak with a louder voice in determining who takes the gavel from Joe Straus, who didn’t seek re-election this year.

Democrats to join speaker fight

A Republican is a shoo-in to become the next speaker. That’s a given. My favorite for the speakership is my good friend Four Price, the Amarillo Republican who, in my view, would do a smashing job as the Man of the House. He is an ally of Speaker Straus, for whom I have high regard, given his torpedoing of the Bathroom Bill in 2017.

However, it’s good to see a semblance of two-party rule returning somewhat to the Texas House. The GOP remains the pre-eminent political party in a state that once was dominated by Democrats.

As for O’Rourke, I’m quite sure that Democratic Party loyalists and activists are getting way ahead of themselves by suggesting Beto should consider running for president in 2020. A better option might be to challenge John Cornyn for the U.S. Senate two years from now.

However, O’Rourke’s legacy for the state well might be that his presence on the ballot and his near-victory over the Cruz Missile has energized a political party that’s been in a hang-dog mood for as long as anyone can remember.

Beto loses, but in a way he wins

I cannot recall a time — before now — when a candidate has lost a campaign for public office and then is mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in just two years.

Beto O’Rourke came within 3 percentage points of defeating Ted Cruz for the U.S. Senate seat in Texas. O’Rourke is a Democrat; Cruz is the Republican incumbent senator.

That’s a big deal worth mentioning, given that Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to any statewide office since 1994. The last Democrat to win a U.S. Senate race was the late Lloyd Bentsen, who was re-elected to the Senate in 1988 while he was losing his race to become vice president on a national ticket headed by Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis.

O’Rourke gave Cruz all he could handle. He gathered more than 4 million votes out of 8.2 million ballots cast. O’Rourke ran as a progressive Democrat. He didn’t tack to the middle. He carried his progressive message to every one of Texas’s 254 counties. He told the folks in the Texas Panhandle the same thing he was telling them in Dallas County, Travis County or Harris County.

O’Rourke led a Democratic Party slate of candidates and perhaps helped down-ballot candidates make their races more competitive. Mike Collier lost the lieutenant governor’s race by about 4 percent; Justin Nelson came up short in the race for attorney general by the same margin. Virtually all the Democrats on the statewide ballot were competitive in their races against Republicans; the exception was Lupe Valdez, who got hammered by Gov. Greg Abbott.

So, what does the future hold for Beto O’Rourke? Hmm. Let’s see. Oh, John Cornyn’s seat is up in 2020. Might there be another Beto candidacy for the Senate in the offing? He isn’t being cast aside as a has-been, having lost his bid to defeat Sen. Cruz.

Indeed, he is continuing to be hailed in many corners in Texas and around the nation as a potential political superstar.

And to think that Beto is basking in this standing as a losing candidate. Go … figure.