We return again to the “Is Beto running for Governor” question

It’s all about tonal shifts.

Beto O’Rourke

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.

“Impatience is not the word for it,” Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said. “But anxious is.”

For months, O’Rourke has kept his options open. A top aide to the former Texas congressman and presidential candidate said O’Rouke, 48, has not ruled out challenging Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in 2022 but has taken no formal steps toward a campaign, like calling donors or recruiting staff. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private deliberations more freely.


The decision facing O’Rourke comes at a dark moment for Texas Democrats, even by the standards of a hapless 25 years of getting clobbered in statewide elections and steamrolled in the Legislature. For one, they are still wobbling after their massive expectations for a 2020 breakthrough flopped spectacularly. The party had hoped to flip the Texas House and O’Rourke led a massive campaign to do just that, but failed to give Democrats a single extra seat.

The Election Day wipeout emboldened Texas Republicans, who have responded by muscling through staunchly conservative measures over guns, abortion and teaching curriculum that Democrats are all but powerless to stop.

Any Texas Democrat running for governor faces long odds against the well-funded Abbott, who could ultimately face a stiffer challenge from actor Matthew McConaughey and his musings about joining the race himself. Still, O’Rourke went from virtual unknown to nearly upsetting Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, and relishes the role of underdog.

You know my opinion, and the less said about McConaughey, the better. Honestly, this kind of “insider speaking anonymously to a reporter” story is an old tactic, meant to keep the name out there and gauge interest without having to make the formal commitments just yet. Not talking to a reporter, even anonymously, is always an option for someone who has no intention of being candidate, as well as their associates. In that light, this is an indicator that he really is thinking about running. But then, that is what I would think.

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3 Responses to We return again to the “Is Beto running for Governor” question

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    ” In that light, this is an indicator that he really is thinking about running. But then, that is what I would think.”

    I agree with your assessment. Beto’s dipping his toe in the water, but standing next to the potted plant next to the pool, so no one can say they saw him do it.

  2. asmith says:

    If I were Beto I would wait for 2024. Either Cruz runs for re-elect or it’s an open seat vs Crenshaw, Van Taylor, Lance Gooden or Mike McCaul. With that said Dems don’t need another 1998 Mauro like performance against Abbott. Someone needs to step forward and run a real race if Beto doesn’t do it.

  3. Lobo says:

    Beto should pray (or at least hope, if he is agnostic) that Mr. Triple Alright McCenter will enter the race as an independent.

    Why? – Because that would give Beto a chance to win with less than 50% +1 of the votes cast.

    Otherwise Beto I-am-Coming-for-your-Guns will be doomed.


    Mc C will be acceptable to centrists and lukewarm GOP-leaners as he can present himself as a family man.

    Thanks to his prior career success, he can get free media coverage, thereby reducing the need for fund-raising, and will garner additional free coverage by continuing to be unconventional and heterodox in his approach to the issues of the day. That would include exploring issues, policy alternatives, and creative solutions that set him apart from the extremes of both the Right and the Left.

    As an outsider coming into the political arena, and a proven winner in another area of public life, he does not carry the yoke of institutional incumbency and the need to kiss up or mollify powerful factions of a political party. He has no line to toe, and has no retaliation to fear.

    Even if he doesn’t win, a gubernatorial run could do some good — both to himself and for Texans. Winning, after all, is not everything. A political novice can say speak his mind against partisan dogma, and can move us forward beyond the extreme partisan bipolarity that is with us today.

    No litmus test will apply to him. He will be the master of his own chemistry.

    Mc C. has plenty of name recognition already. He just needs to work on the rebranding for political leadership. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura have already shown it can be done. Having an open mind about policy problems — and no ossified ideological commitments — could be a strength, rather than a weakness.


    On abortion, he could say that he would personally never have one, and that we need to be more candid with sex education in schools, because sex can be fun and prevention of pregnancy is preferable to invading the body with surgical instruments to terminate one. Who could disagree?

    On same-sex copulation, he could be for the right of gays and lesbians to stay in their bedrooms or closets, whichever they prefer, and come out in favor of protecting all human’s right to personal and sexual privacy. Add to that advocacy in favor of legal protection against the depredations inflicted by paparazzis in tweet and deed, and by peddlers of false allegations. He could chide attorneys for going after targeted defendants with scandalous press releases in aid of pending or forthcoming litigation, and he could even point to a recent SCOTX decision to back him up on that.

    On guns, he can style himself as being strongly against mass killings, domestically for sure, and perhaps also abroad. He will want to make sure his kids (or any others) get to play only with toy guns, and are taught the value of human life.

    And he could raise eyebrows, not to mention mental awareness, by saying that we need to care about the wellness of all boys and their development and happiness, not just those who want to be girls because it’s too hard and painful to be a boy these days.

    Masculinity will not be denigrated, nor love between a woman and a man. And he could be an advocate for “We need to talk about sex baby, before we do it.” Abstinence is a choice, to be sure, but it is only one choice, and it doesn’t propagate the species. Abortion doesn’t either. Sex should be both fun and safe. Ruth Westheimer can be cited as authority. That message might even resonate with nursing home residents who are less or no longer sexually active.

    Considerations of legacy, i.e. leaving the world a better place than encountered, will be restored to their proper place in the political and social universe. And that legacy includes having and raising children.

    Material success is desirable, and everybody should go for it, but it’s not the only thing there is. When you die, you can’t take it with you. What difference will you have made?

    Even fatherhood could be a thing again.

    And Mr. Mc Center has it in him to say good things about his parents, while acknowledging the struggles we all face in relationships and in our efforts to be happy together, knowing the emptiness of trying to go it alone or being promiscuous, unable to form enduring attachments. If people were happier and better in relating to each other, why would they be killing each other at the rate they do?

    That attitude toward life, love, and our common humanity could include thanking his parents for not having aborted him, and crediting them for having made sacrifices raising him so he could become who he is, and follow their example. Do better even, perhaps. Thanks to their inspiration, and any lessons to be learned from their struggles.

    Why would such sentiments not resonate with folks?

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