The closer we get to election day, the more hyping of Beto O’Rourke we can expect from the national media. He’s the new Barack Obama, only he’s not running in Illinois. And they want him to run for President—except, of course, he can’t do that unless he wins. And the way he’s running his campaign, Texas Republican strategists say he’s winnowing his chances of replacing Sen. Ted Cruz come January.
Beto’s whole strategy it seems.
Whereas in August, he was doing a ton of on-the-ground-campaigning in places like Laredo, McAllen and Brownsville – areas that are all Hispanic-heavy—more recently, the Beto Male has switched to doing CNN town halls, appearing on Ellen, skateboarding across stages, and definitely, definitely focusing on national level issues like impeachment, single payer health care, and NFL players taking a knee.
Beto seems to have singularly failed to grasp that while this may be a great strategy for hauling in more cash—which theoretically could be used to propel him to a win in the last days of the campaign—it’s a bad strategy for shoring up support from basically the only voters who can theoretically give him a win: Hispanic voters who lean Democratic but who are not automatic “gimme” votes and who did not support Beto in the Texas primary.
The sad fact for Beto is that there are not enough rich, white liberals in Texas to propel him to a win singlehandedly; if he’s going to do it, he needs these voters. And while he was focusing more on them and their issues in August, it looks like a lot has changed since then—including in the polls.
Just a couple days ago, Beto had a concert in the Rio Grande Valley. He could have used that as a platform for talking about local issues that might have resonated in local media and with on-the-fence voters like, say, drought conditions that have been on the rise in the area. But media coverage thus far doesn’t indicate he did. Political celebrity the Beto Male may be, but early adopter of the Tip O’Neill maxim that all politics is local he is not.
Another small data point here is this: Beto doesn’t appear to have weighed in on a proposed dump for Mexican toxic waste that the developer wants to site in Laredo, in close proximity to a poor Hispanic community worried about wind or water exposing them to toxic pollution (it’s sited in a floodplain).
He also doesn’t appear to have said much of anything about the Texas State Board of Education and its slow progress with regard to a long-proposed expansion of access to Mexican-American studies courses in Texas high schools.
While Beto has obviously focused a lot of his attention on Austin in this campaign (it’s where a bunch of his rich, white liberal donor fanboys call home), he doesn’t seem to have spoken out about a developer in Austin labelling an Hispanic area of the city “Tortilla Canyon.”
Nor does he seem to have been particularly active in raising the alarm about anti-Hispanic discrimination allegedly permitted by Facebook in housing advertisements, despite the fact that Nancy Pelosi has been crowing about her agenda to rein in Big Tech of late and plenty of Democratic bashing of Facebook over Russian influence campaigns run on the platform in 2016.
Oh sure, given that he represents El Paso, there are Hispanic-heavy areas of the state whose local issues he has weighed in on (it’s a necessity, to have any semblance of decent constituent service). Though if you read to the end of this Texas Monthly piece, you'll see that his record in El Paso might contain problems for Hispanic voters, too.
Even on the issue of sending the National Guard to the border, which a lot of people living on the border seem not to support and many Hispanics in particular worry about, about the most he’s done is send this tweet.
Conservatives and Republicans can think what we like about these issues and Beto’s positioning on them (or lack thereof); any of us living in Texas is already voting for Cruz, anyway, so our views are fairly irrelevant.
But odds are, at least some of these issues resonate more with Hispanic voters who didn’t back the Beto Male in the primary than skateboarding across stages in skinny jeans or vocally supporting Colin Kaepernick. And the reality is, Beto isn’t focusing on those.
Ultimately, say Republican strategists, this is why Beto will lose.
He’s raised a ton of money. He has massive national visibility.
But people in LA watching CNN can’t vote in Texas, and a bunch of the people who do vote in Texas and should more naturally fall into his camp than Cruz’s are likely to just stay home because he hasn’t given them a real reason to vote on them.
He’s not talking about their issues. He’s talking like he’s running in a national Democratic presidential primary—which at this rate, he’ll never, ever reach.
So much for the Beto Male. It’s been real. But the ride will be over very, very soon now.