Four Reasons Republicans Should Fear Beto O’Rourke
The midterms are behind us, and all eyes are now set on the 2020 Presidential Election. President Trump, in all likelihood, will remain the nominee for the GOP. On the other side of the aisle, we are seeing a horse race similar to the GOP’s in 2016. A conservative list of potential Democratic contenders for the presidential nomination hovers around twenty people, including governors, senators, congressmen, mayors, philanthropists, activists, and failed candidates from the 2018 elections. Some have already jumped into the race, eager to defeat President Trump.
One candidate that hasn’t thrown his name in the ring yet—but stands a good chance if he does—is Beto O’Rourke, who unsuccessfully challenged Ted Cruz for his US Senate seat in Texas in the 2018 election. For his seemingly quixotic attempt to take out a fairly popular senator in a deep red state without compromising his liberal leanings, he became a darling of the mainstream media. His yard signs began popping up in suburbs around the country. He may have been the most covered candidate throughout the ‘18 cycle.
Now as he flirts with a presidential bid, there are a few reasons Republicans should keep their eye on him:
1. He’s not THAT crazy.
The Democratic primary field is beginning to fill up. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Governor Jay Inslee have already made their intentions clear. Warren rose to prominence as a strong progressive, while Inslee has pledged his campaign will be focused on combating climate change. Beto, on the other hand, has refused to accept the moniker of “progressive.” During his Senate campaign he also made some notably respectable moves—like standing up for his opponent Ted Cruz when he and his wife were driven from a restaurant by a shouting mob. If there are enough “progressives” in the field, he may be able to sneak by, building a coalition of suburban voters and older Democrats who haven’t signed up whole-hog for the progressive agenda. If a compelling, more moderate Democrat emerges from the primary, Trump will be in serious trouble.
2. He can build a winning coalition.
Winning Texas as a Democrat is hard and Beto came close. And much has been made of the fact that Beto actually underperformed past democratic candidates in rural regions of the state. That’s true and a fair criticism, but it’s worth noting that Hillary Clinton would be president if she had been able to flip and turn out more suburban voters. If Trump could win by expanding the electorate and converting enough longtime Democrats, then it is possible that Beto can do the same: expand the suburban electorate and convert longtime GOP voters disaffected by Trump.
3. He’s compelling.
Beto almost won a Senate race in Texas. That fact alone is evidence that there is something about him that inspires people. That is why he is being compared to President Obama. A gifted orator with the right message can do a lot of damage to a President whose approval rating is hovering somewhere around 43 percent. He can speak to moderate Republicans and Independents and provide a vision to motivate Democrats.
4. Fundraising ability.
Raising close to $100 million for a United States Senate seat is impressive. In 2016, Bernie Sanders cited his small dollar donors as evidence of his broad appeal and ability to inspire the grassroots needed to win a national election. Beto’s senate race showed a glimpse of that as well. He was able to refuse corporate dollars and PAC dollars by relying solely on small dollar donors. If he can maintain that fundraising ability into 2020, he will be a serious threat.
Primaries are unpredictable—especially crowded primaries, so nobody knows what will happen. Democrats will face an uphill battle if they nominate somebody who tries to match President Trump’s style of personal attacks. The President is good at what he does, that’s why he gets the fancy title and the big white house. If 2018 was any indication, Beto could rise above it and may offer the American people something they’ve desperately desired for the past two years: normalcy.
While Republicans should fear Beto, he isn’t a sure thing. Beto has a checkered past, including an old arrest for driving drunk, getting into an accident, and attempting to flee. You can be sure his opponents will seek to take him to task for his past. In the current climate of Democratic politics, his primary opponents might look to knock an Irish man “appropriating” Hispanic culture.
Nobody knows what will happen in 2020. Soon enough the drama will be playing out before us. If Republicans plan to win, we need to be scouting the field and prepare ourselves for what’s coming. It is easy to scoff at the extremists on the other side, but if we’re not careful, they just might win. Beto has the fundraising power, grassroots enthusiasm, inspiring rhetoric, and crossover appeal to beat Trump in 2020.