They didn’t even get close. Trump beat Biden in Texas by nearly 6 percentage points, and Republican Senator John Cornyn won re-election by nearly 10 percentage points. Democrats after that Collection of 12 seats in the State House failed to make any winnings in the Downballot races in 2018. Rather than celebrating progress, the Texas Democrats saw a worrying sign at the national level: Perhaps America’s changing demographics wouldn’t automatically bring them to power. In the strongly Latin American Rio Grande Valley, for example, Trump performed above average.
The results also clouded the prospects for the political future of O’Rourke. “He’s young but he’s in super tough shape,” said Matt Bennett of the center-left Third Way group. “Where do you go when the national races are impossible, no matter how good you are?”
The reality today is that if O’Rourke runs for governor, he will start from the back. A Poll from the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas, Tyler, set Abbott’s approval rating to 50 percent in June, including 29 percent for Democrats and 37 percent for Independents. O’Rourke was rated very or somewhat positively by only 31 percent of the voters, while 40 percent had a negative opinion. O’Rourke’s favoritism rating was actually worse than Cruz’s. And in a head-to-head match against Abbott, he lost 45 percent to 33 percent. A Quinnipiac University survey in the 1930s, O’Rourkes had a similar favorable rating, while Abbott was 49 percent.
Many Democratic leaders inside and outside Texas believe that the sensible political choice for O’Rourke would be to sit out the governor’s race and wait to face Cruz, a more polarizing figure than Abbott.
“I don’t think the state’s demographics have moved enough in favor of Beto to make it, and he’s a smart guy so I’m pretty sure he knows,” said Russell Autry, a Poll researcher who worked for O’Rourke while serving on the El Paso City Council. “If you look at the demographics and numbers that go against you in a governor race, why should you?”
Autry said, “He lost the Senate race, he lost the race for president, and I think a third time would likely be a significant image problem. So if he asked for advice I would say do what you do now and wait … you lose three times and it’s tough. “
The 2018 Senate run, in which O’Rourke came much closer than expected, cannot currently be seen as a political defeat for him. He was credited with a high voter turnout after the election, which has contributed to the party’s substantial gains in the State House that year. It got him running for president. But the Republicans in 2020 also found O’Rourke useful. Subjugate Democrats on progressive political positions taken by O’Rourke during the presidential campaign, including his support for the mandatory buyback of offensive weapons. Dave Carney, the Republican strategist advising Abbott, said he hoped O’Rourke would run and called O’Rourke “not eligible in Texas”. If O’Rourke is up and running and the result isn’t as close as it was in 2018, Cruz may not even have to worry about it going two years later.
Eliz Markowitz, a Democrat whose efforts to turn a Houston seat inside out in 2020 attracted national attention, recalled that O’Rourke and his organizers opened “a store” in her district to show her around a month earlier to help choose. Attract hundreds of volunteers from New York, Canada, Wisconsin and Spain. But it wasn’t all positive.
“I think there were advantages and disadvantages,” she said. “Beto is obviously a big name in Texas, and his presence definitely got the Democrats to come out and vote. But on the other hand, if you cheer on the Democrats, you will be cheering on the Republicans. “
Markowitz called O’Rourke “the best chance we have of actually winning this governor’s seat, and he’s the person who has worked the hardest to actually change the state of Texas. Even if he’s not on the ballot, he’s always working. “
Still, she said, “There is some calculation that needs to be addressed. It would be difficult to suffer another loss. “
Markowitz said she wished she knew if he was going to flee. “And I wish he would tell us!”
If not O’Rourke, The question for Texas Democrats is “Who?” Neither Julián nor Joaquin Castro are expected to run for governor next year. Julián Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio and secretary for housing and urban development, also ran for president in 2020 and was not much luckier than O’Rourke. During that cycle, he said, “I am unlikely to run for governor”. “I have the feeling that I just ran a marathon in the 2020 campaign,” he said in an interview, “and you know, I’m just happy to support others right now and shed light on issues that are relevant to the state and the country are important. and then consider running in the future. ”Hidalgo said she was focused on getting back for election in their county seat. Former district director of Rep. Joaquin Castro, Cary Clack, wrote a column in the San Antonio Express News last month entitled, “O’Rourke has to run for governor. ”Seventy-seven percent of Texas Democrats want him to run Quinnipiac.
During the march to Austin, Tejano music legend Little Joe, who appeared in fundraisers for O’Rourke in 2018 – and who said that after O’Rourke lost, “people sometimes lay awake asking what more should I have done “. – hugged O’Rourke and addressed him as “Governor”. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who was walking next to O’Rourke, said he wanted O’Rourke to run and called him “my guy … he’s a cleaner. He cleans the water. He appears and knocks the mud out of the tank. ”A Burger King employee walked past the steps of her shop and shouted,“ Hey, Beto! ”
“Of the choices available, it appears to be the Democrats’ best bet, but it is the best bet in a very high odds context,” said James Henson, director of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin. “And I don’t know. I think that makes the decision difficult for him. “