Tag Archives: Beto O’Rourke

Waiting for ‘the beef’

The latest round of public opinion polling on the 2022 Texas governor’s race sent a glaring message to me.

It goes like this: Matthew McConaughey polls stronger against Gov. Greg Abbott than Beto O’Rourke. Why? Because Texans don’t know a damn thing about McConaughey other than he won a best actor Oscar not many years ago for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

O’Rourke has been on the national political stage since 2018 when he nearly defeated Sen. Ted Cruz in the race for Cruz’s U.S. Senate seat. Abbott, too, is now a well-known and highly chronicled political figure.

McConaughey? I don’t even know if he’s going to run for governor as a Democrat or Republican. He has been playing coy about the party under which he would run.

Indeed, the actor — a native of Texas who lives in the Austin area — has been coy about his views on an array of issues: immigration, public school curriculum, abortion, voting rights, gun violence and gun owners’ rights, climate change, energy production … stop me before I go bananas, OK?

I strongly suspect that when — or if — McConaughey starts laying out some specifics we are going to see some movement in those polls as it regards whether he stands a chance of becoming the state’s next governor.

For now, Texans seem to consider McConaughey a bit of a mystery man, albeit a dashing mystery man.


Beto vs. Abbott shaping up

Oh, my … forgive me for referring to former West Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke by just his first name in this headline, which in reality is a nickname. It just sounds cool.

Still, he and the man he hopes to defeat in 2022 are serious men. My hope is that O’Rourke and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott don’t tack too far to the left or right as they seek to curry favor with most Texas voters.

I have declared myself to be a “good government progressive,” which I intend to mean that I am not opposed to compromise if it produces sound legislation and law.

Abbott has veered to the far right since the start of the 2021 Legislature. I dislike his right-wing views. O’Rourke has appealed to the far left since losing a U.S. Senate race by just a little in 2018 and then flamed out in a 2020 bid for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. To be candid, I am not comfortable with the progressives’ agenda.

I am not sure that most Texans are comfortable with far left or far right politics. There is out here, in the words of the late Colin Powell, a “vast middle ground.” I hope O’Rourke and Abbott find themselves arguing for that middle-of-the-road avenue.

As the Dallas Morning News noted in its editorial today, the state will be better off for it.


Curious juxtaposition on guns

A headline in the Texas Tribune had me scratchin’ my noggin.

It asked: Beto O’Rourke went after assault rifles in his run for president. Will that hurt him with gun-loving Texans?

Well, that poses a quandary, don’t you think? Of course it does! But here’s the deal as I see it. I consider myself to be a “gun-loving Texan.” I own a couple of rifles, both of which are keepsakes given to me when I was a boy by my father. One of them is a single-shot .22-caliber rifle; the other is a 30.06 that carries a five-round magazine.

Neither of them is an assault weapon. I love my guns, even though I rarely shoot them.

Back to the Tribune’s question: I fear that O’Rourke’s statement about assault weapons is going to hurt him among many Texans who profess to love their guns, but who in reality love owning — or love the prospect of owning — weapons designed to kill human beings in rapid fashion on a battlefield.

The question came to O’Rourke during a 2020 Democratic primary presidential debate. He had said “hell yes!” he wanted to take people’s assault rifles. I did not in that moment believe he intended to send agents to my home and confiscate my two cherished rifles.

The crazy crowd among us no doubt is going to interpret O’Rourke’s statement in 2020 as a clarion call to disarm us all. You can bet your last bandolier that Gov. Greg Abbott is going to play on that fear as he seeks to paint O’Rourke as a commie sympathizer intent on destroying the Second Amendment to our Constitution.

Will Beto O’Rourke’s stance on guns hurt him in 2022’s Texas governor race? | The Texas Tribune

Let’s get ready for a rough campaign.


O’Rourke faces red tide

Photo by Richard W. Rodriguez/AP/REX/Shutterstock

I have to agree with the assessment being kicked around that Beto O’Rourke’s decision to run for Texas governor in 2022 carries far greater risk than his near-victory in 2018 in a race for the U.S. Senate.

Why is that? Because the incumbent Republican he is challenging this time, Greg Abbott, is far more likable and is in a politically stronger place than the GOP incumbent he faced in 2018, Ted Cruz.

O’Rourke came within 3% of grounding the Cruz Missile. Polls show him trailing Abbott narrowly this time (so far). However, his 2020 Democratic Party primary presidential bid ended badly and he said some things about guns that are going to haunt him when he hits the trail in Texas.

He said that “hell yes” he would take people’s assault rifles. Abbott has morphed that statement into “Beto will take your guns.” That won’t hurt him in gun-happy Texas? Yeah. It will.

I wish O’Rourke well as he campaigns for governor. I want him to win bigly. I want Abbott to be shown the door and for Abbott to disappear from the political stage.

I wonder about whether Beto O’Rourke’s time has arrived — yet again! — for him to stage the kind of political upset that many of us desire to see happen.

Beto O’Rourke enters 2022 a weaker candidate with a harder race | The Texas Tribune

Abbott has said “bring it!” when talking about O’Rourke’s candidacy. Fine, but O’Rourke also will have plenty with which to work.

Abbott’s miserable pandemic response, his support of an overly harsh ban on abortion, his support of efforts to suppress voters in Texas all can become the stuff of snappy campaign ads. Indeed, Abbott must be made to answer for all of it and I hope O’Rourke — presuming he wins the Democratic Party primary next spring — will make the governor answer.

Let’s be clear on one point. Beto O’Rourke faces a steep climb.


Beto jumps in!

Beto O’Rourke today made official what many observers had speculated for some time, that he is going to run for Texas governor in 2022.

O’Rourke is a Democrat. The incumbent governor, Greg Abbott, is a Republican. It appears to be a fairly safe bet to suggest that O’Rourke will survive the Democratic Party primary next spring and that Abbott will be nominated by GOP voters at the same time.

That means the two of them will square off for Abbott’s job.

I want zero misunderstanding, as if there is any possibility of that occurring with this next statement: I want Abbott to lose his job!

He has been a disgrace as a governor and I say that with some regret. I knew him when he was a Texas Supreme Court justice and as state attorney general. I thought we had a nice professional relationship.

Abbott ran for governor after I left full-time journalism behind so our paths haven’t crossed since he took that office in 2015.

But, man, he has managed to piss me off royally since becoming governor.

I have detested his handling of the COVID pandemic and his refusal to let local governments take control of health matters in their communities. His support of that hideous anti-abortion bill and his declaration that he would work to “eliminate rape” from occurring is utterly laughable on its face. He has tacked so far to the right that there is virtually no room between himself and the precipice over which he would tumble.

Beto O’Rourke, a former Democratic congressman from El Paso, reached a high-water mark politically by nearly defeating Sen. Ted Cruz in the race for the U.S. Senate. He believes he still has the political chops to take on Abbott. I hope that is the case. Indeed, Abbott’s aforementioned COVID response and his legislative record have given O’Rourke plenty of ammo to use against the governor.

I hope he succeeds.

You go, Beto!


Hey, Beto … you gonna run?

Photo by Richard W. Rodriguez/AP/REX/Shutterstock 

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Oh, Beto, Beto, Beto!

The young former West Texas Democratic congressman had to walk back something he said out loud, in public, to a TV reporter.

He said he didn’t plan to run for Texas governor in 2022. Then his office called the Texas Tribune to say … oops! “What I said today is what I’ve been saying for months: I’m not currently considering a run for office,” Beto O’Rourke said in a statement. “I’m focused on what I’m doing now (teaching and organizing.) Nothing’s changed and nothing I said would preclude me from considering a run in the future.”

Don’t you just hate it when politicians say something and then tell you what they meant to say?

According to the Texas Tribune: “I’ve got no plans to run, and I’m very focused on the things that I’m lucky enough to do right now — organizing, registering voters and teaching,” O’Rourke said on NBC DFW’s “Lone Star Politics,” which will air Sunday. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing now.”

Beto O’Rourke clarifies running for governor still on the table | The Texas Tribune

Sure. I get it. He is “focused” on whatever he is doing at this moment. None of that precludes him getting focused at the next moment on something else, such as running for governor.

I happen to believe Beto O’Rourke is going to run for governor. I believe he should run. I also believe a Beto win over Gov. Greg Abbott would slam-dunk any chance of Abbott seeking the presidency in 2024.

Those are my hopes. I just want Beto O’Rourke to stop telling us what he means to say.

Beto in the hunt … again?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas Democrats’ hearts are fluttering again, thanks to reports of Beto O’Rourke’s latest barnstorming tour of the state.

You see, O’Rourke — a former congressman from El Paso who came within whisker stubble of beating Ted Cruz in 2018 — might be running for Texas governor in 2022.

Except that he says he isn’t “thinking about it.” Sure, Beto … whatever you say.

Actually, my gut and my trick knee tell me he is thinking about it.

Is the state’s current governor, Republican Greg Abbott, vulnerable to a challenge from a credible Democrat? I think so. I hope so. I am not sure I expect a serious challenge to emerge from the tall grass, even if it happens to be Beto O’Rourke.

O’Rourke ran for president in 2020, but didn’t make the grade — quite obviously. His 2018 near miss against Sen. Cruz, though, still has whetted the appetites of Texas Democrats who believe that O’Rourke can mount a serious challenge against Abbott.

Beto O’Rourke is criss-crossing Texas again, igniting Democratic hopes he’ll run for governor – CNNPolitics

Abbott’s recent decision to rescind his mask-wearing order has angered me. I am quite certain it has angered other Texans, too.

Does that act alone make him vulnerable? Not really. Unless, we see a serious spike in COVID cases arising from Abbott’s foolhardy (in my view) decision to lift the order.

Beto O’Rourke might not have played well on the national stage, but here in Texas it might be another matter altogether.

Or … he might flame out once he starts “thinking about” running for governor.

Playing politics with people’s misery?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Oh, my. Here it comes.

Texas government officials are taking their lumps over the disaster that arose from the Arctic blast that blew in over the state. It has paralyzed entire cities. Power has gone out. Water supplies have been compromised. It has been a nightmare around here.

However, I am saddened to see this misery being politicized. I do not want to assess any blame based on partisan concerns. Nor do I want to hear prominent politicians or other political activists seek to make hay over the misery that so many of us are enduring.

I’m talking about folks such as, say, former Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a one-time presidential and U.S. Senate candidate from El Paso. O’Rourke says the failure of the power grid is attributable to “Republican policies.”

Really, Beto? You are going there already while a lot of folks — perhaps even some in your home town — are still sleeping in frigid conditions?

I am way more than ready to get through this emergency. I want it to end. I want solutions based on reality. I believe some individuals or groups of individuals have made plenty of mistakes while mismanaging the crisis.

The source of our misery is infinitely greater than any human being can control. Let us focus on dealing directly and exclusively with how we can find our way out of this mess. The politics of it can wait.

Abbott vs. O’Rourke in ’22?

Photo by Richard W. Rodriguez/AP/REX/Shutterstock 

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Gosh, we just finished a contentious presidential election that produced a violent transition of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden.

Now it’s time to look just a bit ahead to 2022 and what is shaping up here in Texas. A potential donnybrook between Gov. Greg Abbott and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke.

Oh, boy. Pass the popcorn.

O’Rourke spilled some of the beans when he told an El Paso radio station that he might run for governor in 2022, seeking to generate the excitement he ginned up when he almost defeated U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. Unfortunately for O’Rourke, the Texas buzz didn’t play on the national stage as he sought the presidency in 2020; he dropped out early from the Democratic Party primary contest.

He did make some news, though, he declared “Hell yes,” he intends to take away people’s AR-15 assault weapons.

Abbott wasted no time capitalizing on that exclamation, declaring that O’Rourke would seek to do that very thing in gun-loving Texas if he is elected governor.

As the Texas Tribune reported: “You’re talking about a person who says they want to run for governor who said, ‘Heck yes,’ he’s gonna come and take your guns,” Abbott said, referring to O’Rourke’s 2019 embrace of a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons. “Heck yes, he’s for open borders. Heck yes, he’s for killing the energy sector and fossil fuels in the state of Texas. I don’t think that’s gonna sell real well.”

Greg Abbott, Beto O’Rourke trade barbs over talk of 2022 governor’s race | The Texas Tribune

Here we go. The demagoguery has begun in earnest. Open borders? Killing the fossil fuel energy sector? Does the governor of this state have that kind of exclusive power? Um … no.

As for the gun buyback, the governor cannot do that by himself, either. No governor is “gonna come and take your guns.”

I do hope to see an Abbott-O’Rourke contest in 2022, even if it includes the frightening rhetoric we’re already getting.

Texas Democrats optimistic; but let’s keep it (more or less) in check

Texas Democrats reportedly are optimistic heading into the 2020 election season. They think a Democratic presidential nominee can carry the state, handing Texas’ 38 electoral votes to the party’s nominee.

Were that to happen, the GOP president, one Donald Trump, can kiss his re-election goodbye. Indeed, I figure that if Texas is going to flip from Republican to Democrat, then the 2020 election will be a dark, foreboding time for the GOP throughout the ballot in Texas.

However, Democrats would be wise to curb their optimism in Texas.

It’s not that I don’t want Texas to help elect someone other than Donald Trump, or that I don’t want the Texas Legislature to turn from GOP to Democrat. I want to see at minimum a contested political playing field, one that features two strong political parties arguing vehemently to persuade voters to buy into whatever ideology they are trying to sell.

However, Texas’ turn from Democratic to Republican control was dramatic and total over the course of about 20 years.

I get that Democrats got all fluttery when Beto O’Rourke nearly defeated GOP U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. O’Rourke then tried to parlay that near-miss into a presidential candidacy. He failed.

Texas Democrats have been floundering in the wilderness since the late 1990s, when they won their last statewide political campaign. Is the upcoming year going to mark the turnaround for the Texas Democratic Party. My bias tells me to hope it does.

My more realistic side tells me to wait for the ballots to be counted.