Prediction: The nays of Texas will likely be upon him. The obvious electoral disaster ahead hasn’t stopped Democrats in the Lone Star State from attempting to draft Robert “Beto” O’Rourke for a gubernatorial bid, though. The Associated Press reports this morning that O’Rourke is giving it serious consideration, despite running to the hard Left in the presidential primary in 2019:
There’s no road trip, no soul searching. No beard or blogging. But Beto O’Rourke is making a political life decision again.
Three years after becoming Democrats’ breakout star out of Texas, and a year removed from crashing back to Earth in a short-lived presidential run, O’Rourke is again weighing another campaign — this time for governor.
But now O’Rourke, who teased an announcement of his bid for the White House on the cover of Vanity Fair, is being quiet about it. He says he hasn’t ruled out anything, but isn’t saying much else. And Texas Democrats are itching for an answer.
They’re banking on Beto being seen as a serious statewide contender after his near-miss against Ted Cruz, and especially after his short-lived presidential campaign. National media outlets gave O’Rourke obsequious coverage, framing the Beto presidential narrative as a second coming of a Kennedy, although not exactly specifying why.
That’s where O’Rourke made his most infamous remark of the campaign, one party chair admits:
Sylvia Bruni, the county’s Democratic Party chairwoman, said she hopes O’Rourke runs but knows his presidential bid could hurt his chances. O’Rourke remade his campaign after a mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso in August 2019 and during one debate even made a full-throated call on national TV for confiscating assault rifles, saying “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.”
That kind of comment isn’t forgotten easily in Laredo, which Bruni describes tongue-in-cheek as an area where “your guns are more important than your wife.”
That kind of comment is tough to live down anywhere in Texas, at least outside of Austin. The state legislature is still working on a constitutional-carry bill that might push the limit of firearms popularity in the state, but even the opposition to that isn’t offering confiscation as an alternative policy. Put that together with O’Rourke’s other peccadilloes and lack of any executive track record in the public sector, and this begins to look like a desperation move.
Bruni more or less confirms this impression:
“No one else has surfaced,” she said of Democrats’ non-O’Rourke prospects for governor. “I haven’t seen anyone out there.”
Texas Democrats might not have much else out there, The Hill notes, and have other problems at the moment than just a gun-grabbing nominee at the top of the ticket:
Following their 2020 losses, the Texas Democratic Party commissioned a retrospective of the election, eventually concluding that a lack of in-person campaigning and inadequate voter outreach amid the coronavirus pandemic played a crucial role in their defeats.
Texas Democrats face new challenges in 2022. The Republican-controlled state legislature has advanced a raft of new voting measures that Democrats fear will drive down turnout and hurt their chances of winning in Texas.
It’s tough to see how Democrats plan to enhance turnout by nominating a gubernatorial candidate who has already threatened to use executive authority to seize firearms from law-abiding citizens. One is tempted to say that Democrats could hardly make their situation in Texas worse after Joe Biden’s cluelessness in the border crisis, but there’s still a long way to the bottom.