The Houston Chronicle editorial board published an op-ed last weekend pleading with Beto O’Rourke to quit his campaign to be the 2020 Democrat presidential nominee and come back home to Texas. The Chronicle’s message is clear – Beto is the one true hope of turning Texas blue in 2020. It begins with running against John Cornyn for the U.S. Senate.
Beto is milking the tragedy of a mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso for all it’s worth. From the time the news of the shooting broke, Beto struck gold with renewed opportunities for national interviews and television appearances. Above all else, Beto is an opportunist. He’s taken full advantage of his new role as the face and voice of El Paso. The very white Irish-American politician is the voice of Mexican-Americans in Texas now whether you like it or not.
As I write this Tuesday morning, O’Rourke is listed at 2% in the Real Clear Politics national averages. So far he hasn’t moved the needle. Maybe he will see a little bump in the polls in the coming days but I’m a skeptic.
It makes perfect sense for the left to ramp up pressure on Beto to give up his dreams of moving into the White House, at least for now, and concentrate on defeating Senator Cornyn in 2020. Beto is far more popular with Texas Democrats than he is with Democrats in general across the country as is painfully clear at this point in the primary race. How many times does he get to re-start a national campaign? It seems to me that this moment in time, feeding off a mass shooting in his hometown is his last shot at a second look from primary voters. The Chronicle begs Beto to come back home – Texas needs you.
For too long, Texas officials have had only to consider how far to the right they must go to stay in office. No one is asking whether there might be a good idea or two on the Democratic side of things. We need you, Beto, because Texas badly needs that other view of the world, those differing opinions. You’ve brought us closer to having real, competing parties than any other candidate has, and than any candidate on our radar could.
Would you beat John Cornyn, who is seeking his fourth term? It wouldn’t be easy. You’d have to fight for it, and do better than you did against Cruz. But a lot has changed since 2018 — you had a lot to do with that — and Trump is no longer rock-solid in Texas. Neither are the Republicans who support him.
Imagine the effect you could have on our state. Ideas get sharper when they’re challenged, when points of view clash. We think Texas will get smarter, and its politics more sophisticated, if campaigns here were a true test of ideas, not one-sided races set to autopilot.
So please, Beto, after you’ve taken some time to mourn the dead in El Paso, consider whether now is a good time to leave one race and join another. Texas needs you back home.
The latest Emerson poll shows that Biden is in the lead in Texas right now, not either of the two Texans running for the Democrat nomination. The poll shows Biden up over Trump by 2 points. Bernie Sanders also is up 2 points over Trump. It was conducted before the mass shooting in El Paso.
The poll was conducted Aug. 1-3 among a sample of 1,033 registered voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. For the Democratic presidential primary, about 400 people were surveyed with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.
While the Texas voting population is changing and Democrats are continuing their rise in winning back some longtime Republican-held districts ( my own district in Houston, for example, went Democrat in 2018 for the first time ever), it’s doubtful that O’Rourke would defeat Cornyn. The only hope for a Democrat to pick up Cornyn’s seat in the Senate, though, is for Beto to run for it. Beto motivated and inspired Texas Democrats in 2018 that drove them to the polls. He came really close to beating Cruz – less than 3 points – and that means it’s a new landscape out there with the right Democrat candidate. Granted, Cruz isn’t very popular, even with lots of Texas Republicans, but Republicans have held on to statewide offices since the mid-90s. I don’t see that changing in 2020.
John Cornyn isn’t in a great place right now. That pains me to say.
The news is not great for Cornyn, the powerful incumbent who’s held the seat since 2003. Only 37% approved of his job performance, while 31% disapproved. The polls found that 33% of Texans were neutral or had no opinion.
“That’s not a good place to be. It shows that he’s vulnerable,” Kimball said of Cornyn’s poll numbers, noting that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott had an approval rating of 50%, with only 27% not liking his performance.
O’Rourke has been in El Paso since the shooting. He hasn’t gone back on the campaign trail yet and that does give me pause. Is he thinking of changing over to a Senate run? I’m still not convinced his giant ego will allow him to settle for anything less than the White House at this point. The field of Democrats running against Cornyn continues to grow. The most recent entry is Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, a long-time activist growing grassroots support among the next generation of Hispanic voters, who announced her campaign Monday. She has hired some organizers from Beto’s 2018 Senate run.
John Cornyn has never lost an election. I don’t think that winning streak will be broken in 2020, no matter who runs against him.