Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who we like around here, officially declared his candidacy for Texas governor on Monday. O'Rourke came within 2.6 points of defeating unsightly buttcheek pimple Ted Cruz in the 2018 Senate race. That was an epic Blue Wave election, however, and O'Rourke will face two-term incumbent Greg Abbott during midterm elections that look increasingly bleak for Democrats. Abbott is also a more likable candidate than Cruz, based on the objective reality that he's not Ted Cruz.
Some polls show O'Rourke statistically tied with Abbott, and another has him losing by nine points, while the baby Jesus cries. It's not like polling is a science or anything. Don't pay attention to polls and just go vote, to the extent that you're legally able to in Texas after Republicans rammed through a voter suppression bill on a party-line basis.
Let's take a look at O'Rourke's campaign launch video.
O'ROURKE: Millions of our fellow Texans were without power, which meant that the lights wouldn't turn on, the heat wouldn't run, and pretty soon their pipes froze, and the water stopped flowing. They were abandoned by those who were elected to serve and look out for them.
Making this election about competent governance is a good move. There's bipartisan consensus around not freezing to death.
O'Rourke charges existing leadership with not actually listening to Texas voters. They aren't focused on important things all Texans want, which include maintaining a functioning electricity grid, creating good jobs, and fostering world-class schools. He also correctly states that most Texans support Medicaid expansion and legalized marijuana.
O'ROURKE: Instead, they're focused on the kind of extremist policies around abortion or permitless carry [...] even in our schools, that only really divide us and keep us apart and stop us from working together on the truly big things we want to achieve for one another.
It's smart that O'Rourke isn't hiding from culture war issues, as some might timidly suggest. He's taking the initiative to paint Republicans as the radical extremists. Texas has joined the book-banning bandwagon, and that won't keep anyone's pipes from freezing over during the next preventable power outage. O'Rourke slams this rightwing BS as a “really small vision for such a big state."
O'Rourke's messaging is on point: He claps back at divisive GOP politics while maintaining a unifying tone. He's a problem solver, not a taxpayer-funded Twitter troll. He demonstrated this during the power outage when he organized wellness checks for Texas seniors while Cruz was in Cancun. He makes the inspirational appeal that all Texans can put aside their differences and work together to achieve shared goals. O'Rourke believes Texas can “get back to being big again."
During the third Democratic primary debate in 2019, O'Rourke declared, "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47." I personally thought he was dead in the water as a statewide candidate after the point, but I admit I'm impressed that he's not backing away from his position, which he argues isn't outside the mainstream, even in Texas. He's also going on the offense and defining Abbott's gun policies as unreasonable.
"What I think you'll also find is most Texans reject Greg Abbott's extreme, divisive policies when it comes to firearms, like signing the law for the permitless carry bill," he said, adding that the bill was opposed by members of law enforcement worried it could endanger officers.
Abbott's already claiming that O'Rourke is "pro-open borders, pro-Green New Deal, anti-Second Amendment, and anti-police." It's petty politics that don't actually help anyone. Let's hope Texas will make a better choice.
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