If you’re a Texas Democrat, it’s easy to say “we’ve been here before.”
Remember when Bill White was going to roll Rick Perry in 2010? How about when Wendy Davis was going to sail into the Governor’s Office and “transform Texas” in 2014? A polished, politically savvy Democrat is once again deciding to take a stab at the “red firewall” of Texas, and this time that politician is Beto O’Rourke, Congressman from El Paso who is challenging Ted Cruz for the United States Senate.
As Abby Livingston of the Texas Tribune reminds us, the odds O’Rourke aren’t just long, but may seem astronomical…
No Texas Democrat has won a U.S. Senate seat in nearly thirty years or any statewide office since 1994. It is hard to find a political operative in Washington or back in Texas who would bet money – or professional credibility – on O’Rourke winning this race.
But the El Paso Democrat is earnestly bullish that he will go to the Senate through a strategy of bringing retail politics to a state of 27 million people.
He has no pollster and no consultants at this point, and said he has no interest in hiring operatives of that ilk.
“Since 1988, when Lloyd Bentsen won re-election to the Senate, Democrats have spent close to a billion dollars on consultants and pollsters and experts and campaign wizards and have performed terribly,” he said.
So that’s where we are. But eventually, the Lone Star State have to suspend disbelief and focus on where we are going.
Texas Democrats are caught in a chicken vs. egg scenario. If we don’t run strong candidates, we’ll never build the infrastructure needed to win a statewide office. If a good candidate is out there, we would rather see them run now than us continue to wait for the “right moment”.
A Ted Cruz victory isn’t as sure as we may think. Many folks in his own party would like to see the Senator lose his seat, and he may soon be facing some primary challengers. When it comes to his actual job of representing 27 million Texans, the esteemed Senator doesn’t have much of a record on which to run. Heck, citizens are lucky just to see the person they’ve paid over 1 million dollars in salary host a town hall meeting where they can express their concerns. If O’Rourke can improve on these two paltry statistics, he’s off to a good start.
But the Congressman from Texas’ 16th District has an impressive record and some policy goals that will grab the attention of many young voters. His vocal support for the legalization of marijuana has already proven positive among Millennials. His record in local government proves the ability to work across the aisle and actually earn results for the people of his district.
With such depressing results, it’s easy to write Texas off as a wasteland for Democrats. But the potential of this State to surprise should also not be underestimated. Thanks to Bernie Sanders, and (ironically) the election of Donald Trump, Texas Democrats are energized and ready for change in 2018. If that same coalition were to unite, reignite and stay energized around a statewide Democratic candidate, it’s more than possible that they could win. Indeed, Mr. O’Rourke has a Herculean task ahead of him, but with an early start and unconventional campaign, he might just take Texas by storm.