Tag Archives: Beto O’Rourke

O’Rourke hopes to defy the odds

It looks as though my Golden Triangle friend has it right regarding Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke’s strategy he hopes will produce a victory over Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

My friend believes O’Rourke’s 254-county strategy is going to shore up his Democratic-leaning urban base in the big cities and will cut into Cruz’s expected victory margin in the rural counties.

O’Rourke making a return to the Panhandle

There you have it. I mean, O’Rourke keeps showing up for town hall meetings in the Texas Panhandle, which arguably is “ground zero” of the Texas Republican political movement.

The Texas Tribune’s analysis of the O’Rourke strategy suggests the El Paso congressman is thinking that way, too.

As the Texas Tribune reports: Over the last 15 months, O’Rourke’s county-by-county driving tour has taken him all over the state, from his hometown of El Paso on the Mexican border to Cooke County in the north, where he held a town hall on Saturday afternoon.

“Here we are in Gainesville, which, as the crow flies, might be the farthest point you can get from El Paso,” he said to laughter from a packed house in the historic Santa Fe train depot.

The tour represents more than just an expansive retail campaign across the largest state in mainland America. It also marks a dramatic deviation from the political playbook employed by the majority of Texas Democrats over the last two decades.

Do I want O’Rourke’s strategy to work? Yes, I do. You know what already.

The Cruz Missile has done damn little for the state since he was elected in 2012, except show Texans how he is able to have his voice heard above the partisan din that erupts on Capitol Hill.

My question of the moment deals with whether O’Rourke will be able to become more of an advocate for the state and less of an advocate for himself.

I have given up on Cruz. O’Rourke at least presents the potential of a different approach to legislating.

Rep. O’Rourke proposes debate-a-thon with Sen. Cruz

Six debates? Really? Does Beto O’Rourke really think Ted Cruz is going to agree to that?

Well, the Democratic challenger has pitched a serious offer to the Republican incumbent as the race for Cruz’s U.S. Senate seat starts to heat up.

The most fascinating aspect of O’Rourke’s challenge is that he wants two of those debates to be in Spanish, a language in which O’Rourke is fluent, but which Cruz reportedly is not.

O’Rourke wants to succeed Cruz in the Senate. He wants to take his case across Texas. My hope would be that one of those six debates would occur in the Texas Panhandle. Hey, Amarillo has plenty of suitable venues for such an event: Amarillo Little Theater; Amarillo College; Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts; Civic Center Grand Plaza Ballroom.

The reality is that the Cruz Missile isn’t likely to agree to six debates, even though he is known as a master debater. He once served as Texas solicitor general, which enabled him to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court; I consider that a pretty impressive venue.

O’Rourke’s challenge seems to indicate the seriousness of his effort to unseat Cruz, who is ready for the fight that lies ahead, according to the Texas Tribune: “Sen. Cruz has said he’s looking forward to debates,” Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier said in a statement. “We are considering all possibilities in front of us and will be working with potential hosts and the O’Rourke campaign to determine the best platforms available so that Texans from all corners of the state can hear from the candidates directly about their views for Texas’ future.”

The Tribune also reports that a Spanish-language debate is unlikely: Regardless of what the campaigns ultimately agree to, debates in Spanish between the candidates seem unlikely. While O’Rourke is fluent in the language, Cruz is not known as a proficient speaker. 

Recent political polling puts the race as being too close to call. O’Rourke has spent a great deal of time stumping in rural Texas, far from the state’s pockets of progressive voter blocs. Cruz no doubt is gathering up his own war chest of campaign cash and will take the challenger on, face to face.

That all said, I am pulling for O’Rourke to win. I want him to represent this state in the U.S. Senate. He appears at first blush to be far more interested in our needs than in his own ambition.

Six debates between O’Rourke and Cruz? I hope they all occur. I will not bet the mortgage that they will.

O’Rourke making a return to the Panhandle

I’m thinking a good friend and former colleague is right about Beto O’Rourke’s unfolding political strategy.

The Democratic challenger to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is crawling back into the belly of the beast — so to speak — in May. O’Rourke is planning an Amarillo town hall meeting on May 13. I understand details are coming out soon.

My old pal theorized during a recent visit my wife and I made to the Golden Triangle that O’Rourke, who hails from El Paso, is seeking to cut his expected losses in heavily Republican rural Texas. Meanwhile, the Democratic congressman is hoping to hold on to his base of progressive support in urban Texas.

So, the theory goes as explained to me by my buddy: If O’Rourke can avoid getting skunked in the country and hold his own in the big cities, he wins the November election against The Cruz Missile.

Indeed, the idea that O’Rourke is coming back yet again to the unofficial heart of Texas Republicanism tells me that the young man is serious about this part of the state.

I’m sure he’s been told the story — or the myth, depending on your point of view — about how President Lyndon Johnson closed the Amarillo Air Force Base in the late 1960s because so many Panhandle counties voted for Sen. Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election.

Fact check: Of the 26 counties comprising the Panhandle, exactly eight of them went for Goldwater. That was eight too many to suit the Texan who was serving as president of the United States, or so the legend goes in these parts.

I won’t argue the point here about whether LBJ was pi**** off enough to put thousands of Texans out of work by closing the air base.

The point, though, is that a young Democratic candidate for statewide office is coming here to make his case for why he should be elected over a Republican incumbent U.S. senator.

Yes, I want him to win. Now that we have (re)established that bias, my hope is that his political brain trust isn’t sending him on a fool’s errand with a town hall meeting in the belly of the beast.

Is it possible for a huge upset in Texas?

I’ll say it once more with feeling: I want Beto O’Rourke to win the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Ted Cruz.

O’Rourke is the Democratic challenger to the Republican incumbent.

There. That’s out of the way.

A new poll by Quinnipiac University suggests that this moment, O’Rourke is well within striking distance of shooting down the Cruz Missile. The poll puts Cruz a 47 percent, with O’Rourke at 44 percent; the margin is well within the poll’s 3.6-percent margin of error.

I’m not going to pop the bubbly. It’s only mid-April; the election will occur in November. That’s about a thousand lifetimes, politically speaking.

Texas remains a heavily Republican state. I get that it always remains a huge hurdle for a Democrat to win a statewide race in Texas, something that hasn’t happened since 1994.

With all this talk of a “blue wave” getting ready to sweep over Congress in this year’s midterm election, I am left to wonder if that so-called Democratic wave is going to wash over Texas this fall. If it does, and O’Rourke at least keeps this contest competitive, then it well might portend something quite significant happening around the rest of the country.

To be truthful, it concerns me that Texas has been so maddeningly non-competitive in these statewide races. It really isn’t critical that Texas flip completely from Republican to Democratic leanings. What I would prefer to see is a competitive political climate that keeps the major parties more intellectually honest.

I don’t like one-party dominance. I don’t like it now and I didn’t like it in the Golden Triangle, where Democrats once ruled supreme over the political landscape. That has changed in that corner of the state. I wish it would happen in the Texas Panhandle.

I also am hoping it can happen in at least one highly visible statewide race: Beto vs. the Cruz Missile.

But … yes, I want Beto to win.

Time for another bumper sticker?

It’s been 50 years since I plastered a political sticker on the bumper of my car.

I owned a 1961 Plymouth Valiant in 1968. I adorned it with a “Kennedy” sticker to express my support for Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s run for the presidency. I wasn’t even old enough to vote. It all ended tragically, as you no doubt know.

I’m giving thought to doing so again in 2018. I support Beto O’Rourke’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

However, I’m a bit queasy about it, given the intense division that exist in this country. Yeah, yeah. I know that 1968 produced an even deeper schism, given the intense feelings about the Vietnam War.

This, though, seems different. It’s even more intense. It’s as visceral as it was back then.

Not only that, I happen to reside in a deeply Republican state full of folks who are unafraid to challenge those of the “other” party. The same holds true for Democrats in their feelings against Republicans. Not only that, we are headquartered in the most Republican-friendly region of this GOP state.

Dare I plaster my political preference on a car and expose it to angry response? Hmm. I’ll have to give that just a bit of thought before I take the partisan plunge once again.

O’Rourke winning money battle against Cruz

Beto O’Rourke appears to be winning one aspect of the upcoming electoral fight against an incumbent U.S. senator from Texas, Ted Cruz.

It’s the fight for campaign cash.

Will it translate to victory in the bigger, more important battle — the one for actual votes this fall? Well, that remains to be seen.

The Texas Tribune reports that Cruz, the Republican incumbent, is going to declare that he has raised less than half of what O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger, has raised in the first quarter of 2018.

I won’t spend a lot of time analyzing the battle for cash. Here, though, is a thought that came to me from a retired journalist friend of ours who offered this tidbit during our recent visit to the Golden Triangle.

O’Rourke’s goal has to be to cut his expected losses in rural Texas while maintaining his expected hefty margins in urban Texas.

The Cruz Missile has already put the warning out to his GOP faithful that the “far left” is energized against him — and against Donald Trump, whom the far left hates with a passion, according to Cruz.

Our friend, who’s watched a lot of election cycles in Texas over the span of many decades, believes that O’Rourke — a congressman from El Paso — needs to continue plowing the rural field in the hunt for votes. That seems to explain why O’Rourke has spent so much time in places such as Pampa, Canyon, Amarillo and throughout the reliably Republican Texas Panhandle.

In a certain fashion, if that is the strategy that O’Rourke is employing in Texas, it seems to mirror the national Democratic strategy that enabled Barack Obama to win two presidential elections and for Hillary Clinton to win the popular vote by 3 million ballots while losing the Electoral College to Trump. If you look at the county-by-county breakdown nationally, you see that Republican presidential candidates in 2008, 2012 and 2016 all won vast expanses of rural America; Democrats, though, harvested tremendous numbers of votes in urban America.

One can boil that down to a Texas strategy, too, I reckon, given this state’s huge urban centers in San Antonio, Austin, and Dallas/Fort Worth.

Thus, it becomes imperative for O’Rourke to somehow cut deeply enough into the losses he can expect in the Piney Woods, the Rolling Plains, the High Plains and the Permian Basin to give him some breathing space as he shores up the support he can expect in Big City Texas.

I do hope the young man spends his campaign cash wisely.

Cruz vs. O’Rourke: a fight to watch

I’ll lay this out there right away: You know where I stand regarding U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, whom I have dubbed “The Cruz Missile.”

For those of you who don’t know, I’ll just say this: I do not support him. There. That’s out of the way.

I’m going to watch his fight for re-election with intense interest. He has a Democratic challenger who hails from way out yonder, El Paso. Beto O’Rourke is a member of the U.S. House. He wants a promotion to the other end of the U.S. Capitol Building.

I am not going to predict how this year’s election will turn out. I’m not smart enough to make such a prediction. Yes, I consider The Cruz Missile to be the favorite. Texas is seriously Republican. Our voters are more conservative than liberal. Cruz is banking on the voters’ party loyalty.

But wait! O’Rourke is raising lots of money. He has raked in more campaign cash than Cruz. It’s coming from somewhere. He is tapping the state’s pockets of progressive voters.

Political observers do suggest that O’Rourke needs to build his brand. He needs to establish a political identity. Many of us know how to ID Cruz. I consider Cruz to be a front-running media hog. He loves the spotlight. He’s good at basking in it. He ran for president in 2016 after serving just partly into his first term as a senator; that’s not a strike by itself against him, as Barack Obama did the same thing in 2008.

If there is a “blue wave” set to sweep across the land in the 2018 midterms, I suspect that the Cruz-O’Rourke contest will determine just how angry voters are at the manner in which Republicans have governed the nation. We’ll know whether that wave is for real or whether it’s a mirage created by wishful thinkers.

My heart hopes that Cruz gets the boot. My head prevents me from suggesting it will happen.

It will be among the critical U.S. Senate races to watch.

More money: Does it equal more votes?

Beto O’Rourke is raising more campaign money than Ted Cruz.

Yes, that is correct, according to the Texas Tribune.

The Democratic challenger for the U.S. Senate is outraising the Republican incumbent … in heavily Republican Texas!

I know what many Texans are thinking about now: This means Beto is going to win the election this fall; Cruz is toast; he’s a goner; he’s done.

Not so fast, dear reader.

I’ll stipulate that I am no fan of The Cruz Missile. He has p***** me off plenty during his six years in the United States Senate. Cruz is the latest version of former Sen. Phil Gramm, of whom it used to be said that “the most dangerous place in Washington is between Gramm and a TV camera.” Replace “Gramm” with “Cruz” and you get the same punchline.

As the Tribune has reported: Over the first 45 days of 2018, O’Rourke raised $2.3 million — almost three times more than Cruz’s $800,000. 

Hurray for O’Rourke, right?

The Tribune also notes: While this is a sign of momentum for O’Rourke, it’s worth considering that this race, in a state as big and expensive as Texas, could cost into the tens of millions. Moreover, Cruz is likely to have a deep well of super PAC money to help him in the fall, while O’Rourke early on in his campaign pledged to not accept corporate political action committee money.

Hey, I want O’Rourke, a congressman from El Paso, to win this fall as much the next guy.

It’s good to remember that Texas Republicans are a dedicated bunch. They go to the mat for their candidates no matter what.

It is true that O’Rourke has spent a lot of time at town halls, talking to folks at plant gates, grange halls, saddle and tack shops, shopping malls — you name it — he still is campaigning in a state that hasn’t elected any Democrat to statewide office for two decades. He also has familiarized himself with the expansive landscape of the Texas Panhandle, which is Ground Zero of the Texas Republican political movement.

Now that I think about it, this might be the year for that lengthy streak to come to an end.

Maybe. Perhaps.

Cruz sounds the alarm … but is it a false one?

Ted Cruz is trying to rally Texas Republicans, as if they need any rallying.

The U.S. senator I have dubbed “The Cruz Missile” might be in for the fight of his life this year. He’s got a serious Democratic challenger waiting in the wings and, according to The Missile himself, the challenger has a Democratic constituency that is “stark-raving nuts” in its loathing of all things relating to Donald Trump.

I have made no secret of my own disdain for Cruz, not to mention the president of the United States. From the moment he stepped into his Senate seat in 2013 he has sought, in my mind, to make a name for himself. He hasn’t spoken on behalf of all Texans. He has spoken only for those who support his view that the Affordable Care Act needs to go and that the nation needs to build a wall along our southern border.

But he’s trying now, according to the Texas Tribune, to gin up enthusiasm among Texas Republican voters ahead of the upcoming midterm election.

Why is The Cruz Missile trying to light that fire? For starters, he is facing a well-funded opponent this fall in the form of U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, an El Paso congressman who — and this interests me greatly — has made many forays into deeply Republican Panhandle communities in search of votes.

O’Rourke is raising a lot of money and he has his own base of supporters in the Panhandle fired up about his chances of knocking The Cruz Missile out of orbit this November.

We’ll have to see about that.

But O’Rourke and other Democrats have fired up Cruz enough for him to rally the GOP faithful. As the Tribune reports, Cruz made a series of political appearances this weekend: “Let me tell you right now: The left is going to show up,” Cruz said, delivering the keynote address at the party’s Lincoln Reagan Dinner. “They will crawl over broken glass in November to vote.”

The Tribune also reports: Cruz is feeling the heat in his own bid for a second term. O’Rourke, who has sworn off money from political action committees, outraised Cruz in the last three months of 2017, $2.4 million to $1.9 million. It was the second quarter in which O’Rourke’s haul was bigger than that of Cruz, who still maintains a healthy cash-on-hand advantage.

A lot of political observers believe we could be heading for one of those “wave elections,” where the out-party delivers serious political damage to politicians of the majority party. It happened in 1994, and again in 2010 and 2014.

I’ll simply add this bit of context: If Ted Cruz finds himself in any peril in this deeply Republican state, then you know the rest of the country is about to get drenched in a political tidal wave.

Welcome back, Beto!

I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but Beto O’Rourke is making himself quite at home in what might be considered “enemy territory.”

O’Rourke is the Democratic member of Congress who wants to succeed Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz at the end of next year.

He keeps coming back to the Texas Panhandle. He’ll be here Tuesday, conducting a town hall meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Austin Middle School in Amarillo.

What’s the deal? O’Rourke represents an El Paso district in Congress. He’s got a Democratic Party primary yet to win. He has returned back home to Texas during the August recess to resume his full-time campaign for the Senate seat occupied by Cruz.

O’Rourke has developed quite a fan following among local Democrats — yes, there are actually living, breathing Democrats in the Panhandle. They can’t get enough of this young man.

I’m curious about a couple of things regarding Rep. O’Rourke.

First, how much time is he going to spend mining a limited number of Democratic primary votes when there exist so many more in larger urban regions in, say, Dallas and Tarrant counties, in Bexar County, in Travis County, Harris County and, oh yes, El Paso County? Hey, it’s a big state and he’s got to get from place to place in a big hurry.

Second, if the young congressman gets nominated by Democrats next spring, will he come back to the Panhandle when the general election campaign kicks into high gear?

You and I know the rule of thumb regarding partisan Texas politics: Democrats generally have given up on the Panhandle, while Republicans take this region for granted. Just as national politicians campaigning for president focus on “battleground states” and ignore the trusty Red and Blue states, the same can be said for the intrastate campaign in Texas.

Do candidates for statewide office spend as much time in regions where the outcome is preordained? If I would run a Texas-wide campaign, I would focus my attention on those “swing regions” and seek to gin up turnout among my own partisans, be they Democrats in Austin and the Hill Country or Republicans in Amarillo and throughout West Texas.

I hope I’m wrong about Beto O’Rourke. Just maybe the young man will possess the energy and pizzazz to spend more general-election time far from his base of support.

You know, too, that I am no fan of the Cruz Missile.

Enough said.