The Beto Factor


Well, it’s official, he;s in. You gotta give the boy credit, we haven’t seen a tease like this since Salome refused to drop that 1,000th veil. And of course, being Beto, he’s carrying with him the immediate media coterie of both salvation preachers as well as pooh-pooh naysayers.

Does Beto O’Rourke want to be the President of the United States? Absolutely, no question about it. Can Beto be the resident? Possibly, but that’s a work in progress, and things would have to go exactly his way. Is Beto ready to be President? At this point, doubtful, bt again, it’s a work in progress. And it can be asked, in all honesty, was Barack Obama really ready to be President? As with so much in life, it often depends on who you surround yourself with. By picking Joe Biden for Vice President, an with advisers like Hilary Clinton and Austan Goolsby, the brains needed were in the right places when they were needed.

But perhaps the real question that should be asked is if it even matters if Beto wins the nomination. And personally, I’m not so sure that it does, at least not to the party nationally. Because, already at this early stage, I’m getting a sense at another dynamic that may well be at play here.

Let’s be honest, Beto O’Rourke is a rock star. He took what should have been a walkover Senate race for Ted Cruz, and caused so much agita that Donald Trump himself had to show up and campaign for a guy whose father he accused of helping to assassinate JFK.He raised 70 freakin’ million dollars for a state wide race! And in a red state like Texas, he made himself a national profile that gave him a chance for this run in the first place.

But Beto is also an innovative campaigner. He promised to, and I believe actually did, hit every district in Texas with his campaign. He made appearances at places that hadn’t seen a US Senate candidate since Eisenhower. And while he angered some in the Democratic party by not spreading the wealth in his vast campaign war chest, he also innovated, and funded “pop up”offices throughout the state, giving campaign experience to volunteers and local staffers that can now be tapped by other Democratic candidates in Texas.This gives the eventual Democratic candidate for se]the senate in Texas a leg up on John Cornyn by having possible offices in places that Cornyn has never even heard of.

Beto had 6 stops in his first full day of campaigning in Iowa. And not mass rallies either, O’Rourke gave coffee shop owners in Iowa immediate nocturnal emissions at the very thought of having Beto show up at their place. He soot on a bx, or a table, with a cardboard cuppa in his hand, and gave a rousing. optimistic speech. And guess what? His appearances yesterday included stops in 3 places that voted for Obama in 2012,  but voted for Trump in 2016.

But what caught my attention immediately was something that he said in the portion of the speech that was aired yesterday on MSNBC. He quipped that “There were 13 candidates in the race right now, and no, he probably couldn’t name them all off the top of his head right now,” which evoked honest laughter. But it was what came immediately afterwards that jolted me. He said something like, “And it really doesn’t matter, because any one of them is far superior to who we have in the White House right now. It doesn’t really matter which one of us you like the most right now, what’s most important is that whomever the eventual candidate is, that we all rally around that candidate, because that’s the only way that we can win in 2020.”

Think about that for a minute. On his first day on the campaign trail, not only is Beto O’Rourke acknowledging the simple fact that he may not win, he’s already swearing loyalty to the one that does. And he’s actively planting that seed in the minds of anybody who hears him, regardless of which candidate they currently back and support. And that message is, “Be passionate for the candidate of your choice. But when this is all over, put that passion behind whichever candidate wins the nomination, because that’s the only way we can beat Trump. And Beto O’Rourke is exactly the kind of hopeful, youthful, energizing candidate that these people fell in love with in 2008 and 2012.

Beto O’Rourke is the ultimate retail politician. And he’s at his best in small town settings, where his energy and boyish charm can manifest itself. And he draws big crowds because he goes places that normally don’t see high profile politicians. And while I have no doubt that Beto is “in it to win it,” he’s trying to win it with a unifying message that he’s a Democrat, and that all of the Democratic candidates believe in the same principles, so you can trust any one of them, even if it isn’t him.

Will Beto O’Rourke be the next president? Dunno. But one thing that I do know. If a Democrat wins the White House in 2020, and it’s not Beto O’Rourke, Beto will be mightily rewarded. Because, as long as he’s in the race, he’s not only spreading a positive, uplifting, forward thinking personal vision for the country, he’s spreading a message of party unity to go with it. And just like Uncle Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke is the kind of folksy, down home, sleeves rolled up kind of candidate that can go into rural places in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan and re-ignite the flame that the Democrats let flicker and die in 2016.Whether he wins or not, Beto could be the “secret sauce” that helps pave the way for 2020. Remember, he lost the Texas race in 2018, but he helped to pull at least a half a dozen Democrats successfully across the finish line. Beto is going to be a “face” for a part of this party, and he may end up being a friend with big benefits in his pocket.

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17 Comments on "The Beto Factor"

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Beto seems more like Edwards than Obama to me.

(I mean that strictly in political terms. Morally, I’m sure he’s more like Obama.)

Denis Elliott
I keep saying it’s way too soon to starting picking a “best we’ve got” candidate or even a short list. Could Beto win the nomination? Possibly but he’s not in TX anymore, and for all his rock star qualities his alignment with traditional (oil & gas) energy that was essential for a TX politician could be a liability in the Democratic Party nationwide. You bring up a good point on the experience factor (is he ready?) and certainly bringing up Obama back in 2008 is fair. OTOH at this point I’m not aware of any major stuff at all from… Read more »
Anastasia P
I agree that with that infrastructure he built in Texas he could have been successful against Cornyn, who may not be as nationally loathsome as Cruz, but whose approvals in Texas aren’t great. And he’s welded himself to Trump who isn’t going to get any more popular. And that thing about the oil & gas industry donations is more Berner/media crap. Just like the offensive article in Politico about Warren’s alleged donations to big digital media companies, the amount was trivial compared to his overall haul and probably mostly from low-level employees (This slam can be said about anyone. Go… Read more »
Anastasia P

You’ve just made a great case for why Beto should be running against Cornyn instead and setting his sights on the presidency, if he really wants it, down the road.


Loved the article murfster. I commented a few days ago that a combo of Beto and uncle Joe would be great against the apprentice. And wholeheartedly agree that unity of party is what will get us over the line. I am glad that Beto is putting those seeds out there. I keep having this nightmare of egos fighting over each other while a giant Anita Bryant hairy orange crosses the finish line. Oh God help us!

Gerald Boyette

Beto is too conservative for me. After all he is from Texas. And the idea of tearing down border walls is just plain crazy, I don’t think he would do it. Try to tear down the walls at San Diego and see what happens. Both sides are disingenuous on the subject of border barriers. They do work and we do need to fill in some areas plus all the other measures mentioned. AI will soon make unskilled labor obsolete. Do we want unskilled Americans or unskilled Central Americans that have to be trained? I vote to train unskilled Americans first.

Nick Sullivan
I’m really glad he’s in … a (likely) loss to Cornyn and he would be damaged goods … and be a great talent wasted simply because he’s from a still-terrible state for Democrats. I can definitely see him being able to hold down our losses in rural northern PA here to levels that will enable us to win the state, whether he’s topping the ticket or veep. Hillary got destroyed in that region last time. So would Harris, but maybe Beto could help keep the margins down. He’s the real deal and I also hope he isn’t ripped for some… Read more »