President BETO????

Beto O'Rourke lost a high profile Senate race in Texas, but is he now a Presidential candidate??

Opinion - The United Free
Shawn Gallagher

Probably the most high profile Senate race that took place this election season happened in the state of Texas, it featured popular Republican Senator and former Presidential candidate Ted Cruz against an upstart Democratic candidate named Beto O'Rourke. The Senate race featured quite a few high profile celebrity endorsements, and quite a bit of money spent, especially on the side of the O'Rourke campaign. While many felt Ted Cruz was invincible in Texas, O'Rourke gained quite a bit of popularity in the state, and labeled by some as a “Rock Star”.  In the end, Ted Cruz prevailed and held on to the Senate seat, however, O'Rourke gave a very respectable showing in the election, only losing by just over 2 percentage points, which is the highest a Democratic Senate candidate had performed in Texas in quite some time!

O'Rourke critics will point out how much money the Democratic party spent on O'Rourke, which far exceeded the money raised for Ted Cruz, but in the end it was a result that most Cruz supporters would see as too close for comfort. Looking forward to the 2020 Presidential election, the Democratic party seems rather starved to find strong Presidential candidates to run against Donald Trump, and many in the party are calling for Beto O'Rourke to make a serious run at the presidency, so I decided to dig deeper here and try to find out more about the “BETOMANIA” of the Democratic party.

                                                      The Early Years of Beto

      Robert Francis “Beto” O'Rourke is a 46 year old native of El Paso Texas, spending his childhood mainly in the El Paso area, and developed the nickname “Beto” from family members, as it is a common Mexican nickname and it is used a good amount in Texas as well. Despite having a Mexican nickname, O'Rourke's family is mainly of Irish decent, but the nickname ended up sticking. Beto later ended up leaving the state for college, and attending an Ivy League school in Columbia University.  In college, Beto and two childhood friends formed a band called “Foss”, which was a punk rock band, and the trio did a few summer tours as “Foss” and even released a short album, as Beto's first love was for punk rock. The band “Foss” eventually died down, as they weren't making any money with it.After a few years taking various jobs in the Northeast, Beto moved back to his home of El Paso, Texas.  After returning home in the late 1990s, Beto started a successful internet service and computer software company and got married. In addition to his software company, Beto also wrote and published for various online newspapers, and became very involved in the El Paso Community. 

                                             Political Career Begins

     After years of being involved in the El Paso community, Beto O'Rourke ran for El Paso city council and was elected in 2005. El Paso has historically been a strong democratic city in Texas, and O'Rourke running as a progressive Democrat really helped his popularity here, and El Paso later would be a strong community in favor of future Democratic President Barack Obama. In 2012, Beto decided to run for U.S. Congress in the 16th Congressional district of Texas, and ended up winning, as the 16th district has a large Democrat and Latino presence, and a progressive with a Mexican sounding nickname was just the right fit for the district. While as a Representative, O'Rourke was active with the Department of Homeland Security working to ensure border enforcement accountability, regulating the training and practices of border agents. O'Rourke was also a strong advocate of LGBT rights, and drug liberalization, making an effort to eliminate or reduce punishment for certain illegal drug crimes in the state.  O'Rourke continued a standard progressive agenda that went over well in the heavily Democratic district. 

                                               2018: Senate Race quick recap          

      Seen as a “longshot” Senate candidate by most people, Beto O'Rourke ran against popular conservative Texas Senator Ted Cruz, and nearly tripled the amount of money that Cruz raised for his respective campaign.  It was during this time that Beto became a celebrity of the Democratic party, not much different than someone like Barack Obama did years before Beto. The campaign was also boosted by a large celebrity backing Nationally, which included NBA star Lebron James and country music legend Willie Nelson. The campaign ultimately lost to Ted Cruz of course, but BETOMANIA was indeed born!

                Is Beto really  a serious Presidential candidate?

    While there is a lot of buzz and speculation, especially on social media regarding a possible Presidential run for Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic party and O'Rourke himself I'm certain are at least strongly considering the idea.  At 46, Beto can be portrayed as a young, energetic, good looking candidate, and while his agenda will be seen as too progressive for some, his charm and energy can certainly help him out in a positive way.  The Democratic party could portray him as a young energetic underdog in contrast to the older 70 plus year old Donald Trump. In contrast to 2016, Trump could be seen as the favorite in this particular race, and the Democratic party could at least try to portray Beto O'Rourke as “David” in a “David vs. Goliath” type comparison, with Trump in the “Goliath” role of course.  The Democratic party I'm sure would also love to have a strong Presidential candidate from Texas, which is a southern state that's normally a very Red state. The prospect of Texas and potentially other southern states going Blue could be a dream for the Democratic Party. 

                                             So what's the problem with Beto?

   While we've discussed some of the potential positives of a Beto Presidential candidacy, the are certainly plenty of issues and potential problems here.  First of all, Beto's lack of experience is glaring, as he will only really have his experiences as a U.S. Representative and City Council member as his greatest political experience, which will be rough especially during a primary, where Beto will have to face off against those with significantly more political experience, which will certainly include more experienced U.S. Senators and Governors.  Beto will also be reminded of his arrest record, as he has been arrested twice for Burglary and driving under the influence, and while those aren't as serious as something like a felony, it still won't help Beto in any future race. In contrast, someone like Barack Obama at least was a U.S. Senator at the time he ran for presidency, and many wonder why O'Rourke didn't decide to move to a blue state and run for Senate, as I could easily see Beto as a California or New Mexico Senator for example.  Beto's charm, energy, and attractiveness will be needed at the highest of levels if he is to defeat more experienced candidates in a primary election.  If he were to survive a Democratic Primary in 2020, he would then of course go head to head with President Donald Trump, which has its own obvious challenges.  Trump will have his record as President for four years to run on, and also how his own business experience before the presidency would significantly “Trump” whatever business experience record Beto has. If the Trump economy is also going well you can add another hurdle to Beto's candidacy, in addition to whatever ridicule or nickname President Trump would give him, especially poking fun at his fake Mexican nickname, similar to how President Trump has labeled Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas”.  

                                                   Final Thoughts

    I am not at all a member of the Democratic Party, but if I were, I'd certainly be intrigued by the future of Beto O'Rourke.  If he doesn't become a Presidential candidate, Beto could certainly make another run for Senator or perhaps something like Governor in the future, as he has certainly achieved some popularity.  As far as 2020 goes, I could see Beto O'Rourke as declaring a run for the Presidency, but I don't think he'd be able to get through the Democratic primary, as I feel he's just too raw right now, too inexperienced, and not quite ready for this big of a stage as of yet. There is still a feeling regarding the Democratic Party that things like the primary are “rigged”, and that it is likely someone else's “turn” to make a White House run, much like the 2016 election with Hillary. If a Beto Presidential run is in the cards, perhaps a later date like 2024 would be a more realistic opportunity, especially if he can win something major before that particular run.  In the meantime, life really isn't so bad for Beto O'Rourke, and being a “rock star” isn't such a bad thing even if he can't be a U.S. Senator or future U.S. President.