Tag Archives: Beto O’Rourke

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.

Castro clears the decks for Beto O’Rourke

I swear I thought I could hear the faint chants way off in the distance.

“BE-TO, BE-TO, BE-TO … “

And on it goes.

They could be coming from breathless Texas Democrats who have worked themselves into a tizzy over news that U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro has decided to forgo a challenge to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in next year’s mid-term election.

Thus, the way is cleared among Democratic Party loyalists to rally behind the candidacy of U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who’s been barnstorming our massive state of late, acquainting himself with Democrats who want little better than to oust Cruz, the fiery Republican senator who I’ve dubbed — in not-so-friendly terms — the Cruz Missile.

O’Rourke, who hails from El Paso, stopped in Amarillo over the weekend for a meet-and-greet at a local restaurant. From what I have heard, the crowd to meet him was enormous, meaning that O’Rourke’s advance team — with a lot of social media help from a group called Indivisible Amarillo — did a good job of filling the room.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and let’s heed a dose of sobering reality — if you’re a loyal Democrat we used to refer to in this state as “Yellow Dogs,” meaning they’d rather vote for a yellow dog than vote for a Republican.

Texas flips from D to R.

Texas is a seriously Republican state. It has flipped just in the span of a few years from being reliably Democratic. The Cruz Missile represents the colossal strength of the state GOP. He is one of a complete slate of statewide elected officials who wear the Republican label.

Cruz will be difficult to beat, so let’s not believe that just because there might be an attractive and articulate challenger from the other party that it guarantees a neck-and-neck race. Do you remember another Democrat who was thought to be a serious challenger to the GOP vise grip in Texas? Her name is Wendy Davis, the former state senator from Fort Worth. She was supposed to present a serious challenge to then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in the 2014 race for governor; she lost by 20 points.

I am not crazy about one-party control at any level. I prefer a competitive two-party system. A healthy minority party puts the majority party on notice to defend its positions; a competitive environment makes incumbents accountable for the statements and the decisions they make on our behalf.

Maybe we can restore some level of competitiveness to the Texas political battleground. For the sake of those anxious Democrats around the state — and in the Texas Panhandle — I hope it’s O’Rourke who can make Cruz answer for his grandstanding and his transparent self-centeredness.

O’Rourke trying to make a fight of it for U.S. Senate

I am going to give credit to a young member of Congress who wants to upgrade his status as a public official.

Beto O’Rourke is a Democratic congressman from El Paso. He’s running for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Republican Ted Cruz.

What deserves a word of praise is that O’Rourke is coming here, to Amarillo, the unofficial “capital city” of the most Republican region of one of the nation’s most Republican states.

He’s scheduling a meet-and-greet this coming Saturday at Abuelo’s Restaurant. He’s going to shake a few hands, get his picture taken with individuals, perhaps answer some questions from those coming to meet the young man.

OK, I get that the election is more than a year away. O’Rourke might not even win his party’s primary next spring; another young up-and-comer, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio is thinking about challenging Cruz.

That’s a decision to be made by others.

But I’m struck by the idea that a Democrat would come here. I understand this isn’t the first time O’Rourke has ventured this far north since announcing his candidacy. I’ve long lamented the idea that Democratic candidates have given up on the Panhandle while Republican candidates take this region for granted.

This ain’t necessarily a battleground region within Texas, if you get my drift.

Am I going to assert that some back-slapping at a popular eatery in Amarillo is going to turn this region into a critical front in the fight for political supremacy? Oh, no.

I do have to give Rep. O’Rourke some props, though, for spending some time among Panhandle partisans. Just maybe we can restore some competitiveness to these statewide races.

There once was a time, as the late U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen used to say, that “politics in Texas is a contact sport.” It hasn’t been that way for more than two decades, since the last time a Democrat was elected to a statewide office here.

I am left to wonder — indeed, hope — that Beto O’Rourke is ready to return some of the rough-and-tumble to Texas politics.

Even Texans are mad at Trump … go figure

When residents of Texas are polling negatively against Donald John Trump, well, then you’ve got a problem.

Are you paying attention, Mr. President?

Texas Monthly reports that a Texas Lyceum poll suggests most of us here in the Lone Star State disapprove of the job Trump is doing. The poll surveyed everyone — those who vote and those who don’t. Texas Monthly reports further that among Texas Republicans who do vote, the president remains popular, with an 85 percent approval rating.

According to Texas Monthly: “The key seems to be which group of Texans you’re talking about. Overall Trump’s disapproval/approval rating among all Texans was 54 percent/42 percent. But while Republicans support him, 86 percent of Democrats disapprove of his job performance, along with 73 percent of the millennials and 61 percent of Hispanics. Sixty percent of whites view Trump positively.”

Trump in trouble in Texas?

I am not going to presume for a second that Trump couldn’t win Texas yet again if an election took place in the next day or two. Texans have shown a propensity over many years to be intensely loyal to whichever party is in power.

I’ve noted already that a semi-trained chimp could get elected to public office if he was a Republican.

To be, um, fair and balanced, you could have said the same thing 40 years ago about Democratic candidates for office.

The tide has turned here. Having been at ringside in Texas as the state turned from moderately Democratic to strongly Republican, I borne witness to the shocking nature of the transition.

The Lyceum poll also suggests that U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who’s up for re-election in 2018, might be in some trouble against a strong Democratic challenger. The poll puts Cruz and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke — the only announced challenger for Cruz’s seat — in a dead heat.

But … as they say: A week is a lifetime in politics. In Texas, I’m not about to count Cruz out as dead meat more than a year away from the next election.

As for Trump, his relatively poor standing is emblematic of the trouble he is encountering throughout the nation. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which remains popular with a majority of Americans; and he wants to build that wall along the Rio Grande River, a notion that I keep hearing isn’t popular at all among rank-and-file Texans.

But, hey. If we were to ask Trump about his low poll standing, he’d blow it off. He’d call it “rigged.” He would say it’s cooked up by the media that he describes as “the enemy of the people.”

You know what? Most Texas Republicans would believe him.

Imagine that.

U.S. Sen. O’Rourke? Let’s wait and see about that one

Beto O’Rourke wants to succeed Ted Cruz in the U.S. Senate.

To be honest, few things political would make me happier than to see the Cruz Missile brought back to Earth by a loss to a up-and-comer such as O’Rourke.

Will it happen?

I refer you to “Gov.” Wendy Davis, the former Democratic state senator who once was thought to have an actual chance at defeating Greg Abbott in the race for Texas governor in 2014. She lost by more than 20 percentage points.

O’Rourke represents an El Paso congressional district. He’s seen as one of the next generation of Texas Democratic stars, along with, oh, Julian and Joaquin Castro, the twins from San Antonio; Julian served as San Antonio mayor and then went to work in Barack Obama’s Cabinet as housing secretary. Joaquin serves in the House along with O’Rourke.

Cruz became a serious pain in the patoot almost immediately after being elected to the Senate in 2012. He took no time at all before inheriting the role once occupied by another Texas U.S. senator, fellow Republican Phil Gramm, of whom it used to be said that “The most dangerous place in American was between Gramm and a TV camera.” Cruz loves the limelight and he hogged it relentlessly almost from the moment he took office.

Sen. Cruz repulses me, as if that’s not already clear. Cruz once actually questioned the commitment of two Vietnam War combat veterans — Democratic Sen. John Kerry and Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel — to the nation’s military strength; Cruz never wore a military uniform.

But is he vulnerable to a challenge from Beto O’Rourke? There’s no need to count the ways why I don’t think O’Rourke is going to beat him. There’s really only a single factor to consider: O’Rourke is a Democrat and Cruz is a Republican and as near as I can tell, a semi-trained monkey can get elected to damn near any office in Texas — as long as he runs as a Republican.

I say this understanding that a year from now a lot of factors can change. Will any of them turn O’Rourke from prohibitive underdog to overwhelming favorite?

Texas remains a deeply red state and is likely to remain so for, oh, the foreseeable future — if not beyond.

My most realistic hope is that Rep. O’Rourke —  if he wins his party’s U.S. Senate primary next year — makes this enough of a contest to force Sen. Cruz to think of Texans’ needs before he thinks of his own political interests.