Tag Archives: Beto O’Rourke

Confused by GOP dominance

I am going to admit what ought to be obvious: The Republican dominance of the Texas political landscape is confusing in the extreme to me.

Every GOP statewide candidate running for election or re-election in the just-completed midterm campaign won by a lot over their Democratic challenger. Leading the way, of course, was Gov. Greg Abbott, who won re-election to a third term by 11% over Beto O’Rourke … who I believe now needs to get back to working a day job and bringing home a paycheck. Beto’s days as a pol appear to be over.

The rest of the ballot showed similar victories. Perhaps most stunning to me was the result of the Texas attorney general’s contest. GOP incumbent Ken Paxton pounded Democratic challenger Rochelle Garza by a margin similar to what Abbott scored.

What baffles me is how Paxton managed such an impressive victory while campaigning under the shadow of a state felony indictment that came down in 2015, just after Paxton took office. The indictment alleges securities fraud. Paxton hasn’t gone to trail yet. It is not even clear when that will happen.

Moreover, there have been questions relating to the way he runs the AG’s office; seven top deputies quit and then blew the whistle on Paxton, alleging that he does favors for a top donor, suggesting criminal behavior.

Texas Democrats keep talking a good game about wrestling some of these offices out of GOP hands. Every election cycle, though, produces the same sorry result: Republicans win by comfortable margins.

Yes, the state’s population is growing rapidly. Its demography is changing to what “experts” suggest is a more Democrat-friendly electorate.

I want the state to become more of a battleground, with the two major parties battling head-to-head over ideas, philosophy and policy. I am tired of Republicans winning these fights and then foisting their far right-wing agenda on a population that doesn’t buy into it.

When will it change? I do not know. I am just going to keep wishin’ and hopin’ the day comes sooner rather than later.


Thanks, Beto, but time’s up

It pains me to say this, but I must get it off my chest: It’s time for Beto O’Rourke to call it a career.

The young man perceived as Texas’s rising Democratic political star got his butt thumped in the midterm election. He lost to Gov. Greg Abbott by 11 percentage points in the cash-heavy race for governor.

O’Rourke broke some sort of fundraising record. He raised and spent more money than Abbott. He drew enthusiastic crowds. He got ’em fired up.

But … he finished with far fewer votes than the GOP incumbent.

O’Rourke’s high-water mark is now more evident than ever. He reached his zenith in 2018 when he came with 3% of defeating U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. He got a lot of us salivating over his prospects. Then he ran for president in 2020 … and flamed out.

Now this. In 2022, O’Rourke fell victim to belief in what he could do. He has fallen short yet again.

The Texas Tribune reports: “It’s been one [election] after another where we ramp everybody up and set up these expectations that we’re going to finish in first — and then we finish in second,” said Joel Montfort, a Democratic consultant in North Texas. “I don’t see any indication that we can win at statewide levels or won’t continue to bleed house seats to the other party.”

After election, Texas Democrats admit faltering on messaging, voter turnout | The Texas Tribune

Beto is now a three-time loser. Hmm. It seems to me his days on the Texas political stage have come to an end.

I voted for O’Rourke in 2018 and again in 2022. I don’t regret my votes for the young man. Still, the former congressman from El Paso, in my humble view, needs to find a job and pursue a new career.


Texas not yet blue

Texas Democrats are licking their wounds this week after learning that our state remains a good distance from becoming the Red vs. Blue battleground that many of them wish would occur.

I admit to being one of those Texans who wished for a different outcome from the 2022 midterm election.

Texas Republican officeholders — who occupy every statewide office in Texas — all scored significant victories over their Democratic challengers. They were elected or re-elected by double-digit percentage margins.

Beto O’Rourke raised and spent a lot of dough in his attempt to defeat Gov. Greg Abbott; the governor finished with 54% of the vote compared to O’Rourke’s 43%. Ouch, man.

Texas Democrats keep touting how they are “on the verge” of turning the state into a battleground. Hmm. Well, the election returns from Tuesday night say something else. We ain’t there.

Indeed, we might not get there in 2024, or perhaps even in 2026. I won’t venture any guesses beyond that.

The Texas Tribune reported: “Voters seem to be fine with the status quo,” said Drew Landry, assistant professor of government at South Plains College in Levelland, west of Lubbock.

Texas election results show the state is far from turning blue | The Texas Tribune

Yep. That “status quo” satisfaction will kill a political movement every time that comes from supposed dissatisfaction.


How would Beto work with GOP?

Let’s suppose for a moment that lightning strikes and Beto O’Rourke is elected Texas governor in the midterm election.

O’Rourke is a Democrat who would have to work with the Republican-controlled Legislature. I have been rolling that notion around and have come up with a conclusion.

Given the obstructionist nature of the current GOP, I only can conclude that O’Rourke would have a huge hurdle to clear. That would be a vast difference from the previous time the state had a governor of one party and the Legislature controlled by the other party.

In January 1995, Republican George W. Bush took over as Texas governor. The Legislature that year was controlled by Democrats. The Senate’s lieutenant governor was the irascible Bob Bullock. The speaker of the House was the more amiable, but still fiercely partisan Democrat Pete Laney.

The two legislative leaders developed a tremendous working relationship with the newly minted, freshly scrubbed GOP governor. They became friends. Partners. Allies at times.

Legislative Democrats in 1995 seemed to have little appetite for fighting, fussing and feuding with Republicans, especially the one who moved into the governor’s office.

I am trying to imagine a Democrat such as Beto O’Rourke developing that kind of relationship with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Speaker Dade Phelan. Both of those legislative leaders are wedded to the MAGA world view.

Oh, how I would love to be proven wrong. I fear, though, that a Gov. O’Rourke would not get anything resembling the kind of feel-good introduction to governing that greeted Gov. George W. Bush all those years ago.

Do I believe that will happen? I am afraid not. Then again, there’s always hope.


Guns: decisive issue

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

It occurs to me that the race for Texas governor well could turn on a single issue, but that issue will have profoundly different impacts on the two major candidates seeking to win that contest.

Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate, once said, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.” He was speaking at a presidential primary debate in 2020. He got pounded for that remark, which he has since walked back a good distance.

Greg Abbott, the Republican candidate for governor, was on the watch when the gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde; he killed 19 children and two teachers. Abbott has had ample chance to use this incident as a rallying cry for legislative reform of our gun laws but has remained silent.

O’Rourke is not going to disarm law-abiding Texans, taking away their weaponry. Abbott can do little by himself to stem the gun violence, such as what occurred in Uvalde.

Something tells me, though, that guns well could determine who wins this contest.


Beto tosses in towel?

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

I can’t stand it when candidates I support say the kind of thing that came from Texas Democratic Party candidate for governor Beto O’Rourke.

O’Rourke responded to a question involving a recent poll showing that he continues to trail GOP Gov. Greg Abbott in the head-to-head race for governor.

“The only poll that counts,” said O’Rourke, “is the one on Election Day.”

I winced when I saw those remarks. You see, that is the kind of response one sees coming from trailing candidates who seem to secretly acknowledge that they’re cooked, that they have no chance of catching the opponent.

It’s a form of political code-speak.

I hope that’s not the case with O’Rourke. Quite clearly, I cannot read the candidate’s mind, unlike some pundits out there who believe they can do the impossible.

Maybe it’s just a throwaway line that O’Rourke decided to toss into the air. Whatever, we have a month to go before Midterm Election Day. Abbott still must be held accountable for his non-response to the Uvalde school massacre, for his showboating by sending migrants to New York and other “liberal” states.

I just don’t want to hear O’Rourke seeming to give up a fight that still is worth the struggle.


Use the ‘bully pulpit’ to end gun violence

Greg Abbott has a forum called the “bully pulpit” to advance causes he deems essential. The Texas governor has used it with minimal effect to call attention to illegal immigration.

The Republican, though, needs to fire it up to talk about another key issue on the minds of parents, students and educators: gun violence in our schools.

You know what I’m talking about. The Uvalde school massacre in May remains on the top of Texans’ minds as Abbott campaigns for re-election against Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke.

We’re seeing campaign ads now calling attention to what Abbott has failed to do in the wake of Uvalde. He has opposed efforts to increase the minimum age for those who purchase weapons from 18 to 21 years of age. He has failed to call a special legislative session to deal forthrightly with gun violence.

O’Rourke is seeking to make Abbott’s non-response to Uvalde a campaign issue. I don’t yet know whether it is resonating with voters who are sickened by what happened at Robb Elementary School, when a lunatic packing an AR-15 rifle and hundreds of rounds of ammo walked into the school and slaughtered 19 fourth graders and two educators who sought to protect the children.

One of our nation’s greatest Republicans, Theodore Roosevelt, used to proclaim that the bully pulpit existed precisely for officeholders to further worthy causes. Protecting our children against random acts of evil certainly qualifies … yes?


Did Beto come clean on cops?

Beto O’Rourke got the question I was hoping someone would ask him tonight in his debate with Greg Abbott down yonder in Edinburg.

Does he want to “defund the police”? I asked O’Rourke, the Democratic nominee for governor, to answer that one cleanly and crisply.

He, um, didn’t. Is that a deal breaker? Does that mean I am pulling my support for O’Rourke? No.

A reporter asked him straight up. His answer was that he “always” has supported law enforcement. Hold on. I heard him praise the Black Lives Matter movement for calling on communities to defund the police.

Now he says he always has supported police fully? Not exactly.

I am a strong supporter of the cops, too. I have said so many times on this blog and have expressed it verbally to police officers over many years. If O’Rourke is going to continue supporting the cops from this moment forward, I’m all in.

I just wanted him to clear up any misunderstanding on the issue. He didn’t do it.


Explain yourself, Beto

One of the discredited public policy pronouncements coming from the far-left wing of the political spectrum has been the “defund the police” calls emanating from the deaths of Black men at the hands of rogue cops.

Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate for Texas governor, was one of those who spoke about how delighted he was to see the “defund the police” movement gathering a head of steam.

I want O’Rourke, who I happen to support in his quest to become Texas governor, to explain whether he still believes in the defund the cops movement. Or has he moved on?

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is beating Beto up on that notion, which might be contributing to his continued strong showing in the polls leading up to the Election Day.

The two men are going to debate later today in the Rio Grande Valley. It’ll be their only joint appearance prior to the balloting in November.

I want to hear some specifics from O’Rourke on the defund police idea that he once praised. More to the point: Has his view “evolved”?


Lawn sign: yes or no?

I am grappling with my current issue of the day: Do I put a lawn sign in my front yard proclaiming my political preferences for all the world to see?

I am inclined to avoid doing so. You see, we live in an era of meanness that borders on insanity.

The last lawn sign that I pounded into the dirt on my front yard had the name of the late Frank Church, the senator from Idaho who in 1976 ran for the Democratic nomination for president in the Oregon primary. That was the last year before I became a full-time journalist, which to my way of thinking meant that I couldn’t declare my political leaning in that fashion as long as I was reporting on political matters.

That was 46 years ago. I no longer am a full-time journalist, although I do write on a freelance basis for a public radio station website and for a weekly newspaper in Collin County, Texas. I don’t feel encumbered, necessarily, by those part-time jobs.

However, I am a bit fearful of putting a lawn sign out there for, say, Beto O’Rourke, the Democrat running for Texas governor, in the middle of what I will presume to be a neighborhood full of Republicans.

We know the next-door neighbors on both sides of us and we know a smattering of others across the street and farther away on our side of the street. I wouldn’t expect trouble from them.

It’s the total strangers who travel down our street during all hours of the day and night who give me the heebie-jeebies.

I also should declare that since I joined the roster of ink-stained wretches who write for newspapers I haven’t contributed a dime to any political cause, either. I do vote. I am adamant that I make my voice heard where it counts the most.

This lawn-sign thing is going to require a major leap of faith. I am unsure whether I want to take it just yet.