Monday, August 14, 2017

Beto O'Rourke-- Town Hauling Across Texas


It's a wonder El Paso Congressman Beto O'Rourke has any time to tweet. He seems determined to drive to every corner of gi-normous Texas and meet all the voters who haven't seen a live Democrat running for office since Ann Richards ran for governor or, in some cases, since LBJ ran for the U.S. Senate! Beto is giving up his safe blue congressional seat to take on one of the monsters on the Republican Party, extremist Ted Cruz. The first time he ran, Cruz was seen as an unattractive and divisive in the GOP. He came in a distant second to establishment Republican David Dewhurst-- 627,731 (44.63%) to 480,558 (34.16%). Cruz's ugly scorched-earth runoff campaign destroyed Dewhurst who actually got far fewer votes than in the original balloting!

In the general election Cruz spent $7,600,914 to Democrat Paul Sadler's sad $108,442. Sadler's biggest single contributor was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers ($5,000), while Cruz's was the neo-fascist group Club for Growth ($659,777). He raked in over $40,000 from Goldman Sachs executives and the Oil and Gas Industry was there for him with $325,850, even more than Wall Street's $305,110. It was an easy win for Cruz-- 4,440,137 (56.46%) to 3,194,927 (40.62%).

Although Sadler managed to win a few big counties-- Bexar (50.5%), Dallas (55.7%), El Paso (61%), Hidalgo (66.4%), Travis (59%)-- Cruz managed to slip past him in mammoth Harris County-- 581,197 (49.6%) to 562,955 (48.0%)-- and swept rural areas, small towns and small cities with massive margins.

Today Beto is favored to win Harris County and perhaps Tarrant County, which Cruz took in 2012, and he's spending a lot of his time and energy engaging the voters in places like Lubbock. Cruz won Lubbock County in 2012-- 62,313 (69.7%) to 24,139 (27.0%). No one thinks the vote next year is going to be anywhere near as lopsided. Same in places like San Angelo. Cruz won Tom Green County-- San Angelo is the county seat-- 25,806 (71.6%) to 8,993 (25.0%) in 2012. A friend of mine who works at the Goodfellow Air Force Base there told me he expects Cruz to win the area, but not by the kind of margin it takes to make up for Beto's probable majorities in places like Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston. "My guess is that O'Rourke will be around 40%, maybe even a little more... He's making a very favorable impression around here." Right now, Beto is on another non-stop, breakneck month-long tour of the state... 34 days worth that started when he bought a new truck in San Antonio. "No other candidate," pointed out Patrick Svitek for the Texas Tribune, "is currently campaigning across Texas quite as aggressively."

"I want to do this as hard as I can and make every effort to meet every Texan as possible," O'Rourke said in an interview Thursday. In a state as large as Texas, he added, such an itinerary is the "only way you're going to have any hope of meeting the people that you want to represent."

O'Rourke's campaign has a name for the trip: "Town Hauling Across Texas."

The trip, much of which O'Rourke has been livestreaming on his Facebook page, has already taken him to the Rio Grande Valley, Far West Texas and the Panhandle. In those places, he has held traditional campaign events such as town halls and meet and greets, as well as less-formal activities-- such as block walking Thursday in Wichita Falls.

Over the next week, he's set to hit North Texas and East Texas, with stops planned after that in Houston, College Station, Waco, Victoria, LaGrange, San Angelo, Midland, Odessa and Abilene.

It's an intense pace of campaigning more than a year out from the November election, but it also reflects the work required if O'Rourke wants to stand a chance against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). The state has not elected a Democrat to statewide office in over two decades.

O'Rourke has had some early success, though. He outraised Cruz by half a million dollars in the second quarter and has drawn big crowds in some of the reddest areas in the state-- almost 500 people turned out for an event he did Tuesday in Amarillo, according to local media.

Both Cruz and O'Rourke have August off for the congressional recess. Cruz, who is running for re-election but has not made an official campaign announcement yet, visited East Texas on Friday in his capacity as a U.S. senator, making stops at two local businesses and a junior college.

As he travels the state, O'Rourke said he is encountering community leaders who tell him they haven't had the same level of outreach from the incumbent in Cruz's four and a half years in office. "They haven't seen him," O'Rourke said.
Goal ThermometerYes, O'Rourke has more individual donors and did out-raise Cruz for the last quarter, but Cruz has a mammoth $5,096,502 cash on hand, compared to Beto's $1,891,668. Cruz is already getting big contributions from foreign interests and organized crime through far right casino magnates Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. And Mitch McConnell's leadership PAC has also started contributing big bucks to Cruz. (I guess they kissed and made up somewhere along the way.) If you'd like to help keep Beto's very grassroots campaign rolling through Texas-- remember, he doesn't accept PAC money-- please consider contributing what you can directly to his campaign by clicking on the Blue America ActBlue Senate 2018 thermometer on the right. There is only one path to victory for Democrats in the Senate and that path runs right through Texas. 

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At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Hone said...

Keep at it, Beto! Texas can be turned. Texans can be independent minded when they feel like it.

At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another candidate that is criss-crossing Texas is Bernicrat Tom Wakey who is running for Governor. He just jumped into the month ago and has already visited the Rio Grande Valley three times, Dallas, Houston and all parts in between. This week he will be in Austin, Gatesville, Cibilo and Goliad. Like Beto, he just bought a new car and plans on getting to every county in Texas before next year's primary vote.

At 8:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Hone, it's TX. I suppose it's hypothetically possible for them to be independent minded. But they won't be. For Beto or Tom to be elected, they'd need to have some sort of gimmick and/or their opponent must die just before the election.

G.W. Bush, Rick Perry, Louis Gomert, Ted Cruz, Lamar Alexander... these are the types that TX elects. Not since Ann Richards has TX elected someone "interesting" to anything of consequence.


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