Monday, September 10, 2018

Beto for Senate

Texas has been a one-party state since Reconstruction. Up until the election of Bill Clements as the first GOP governor in Texas history, that one party was the Democrats. Even after the first election of Clements it took another decade to turn Texas blue. And yet, for as long as I can remember, Texas regularly sent one GOP Senator to Washington.

So the idea of sending one Democratic Senator to D C. is not such an anomaly as many pundits want to make out. And besides, Ted Cruz is a lousy candidate.

Democrats won so automatically in Texas that when they started losing statewide, they didn't know what to do. Only this year have I seen Democratic candidates run enthusiastically rather than reflexively. No candidate encapsulates this enthusiasm better than Beto O'Rourke. And no candidate is a more clumsy campaigner than Hillary Clinton except Ted Cruz.

His own supporters in Texas were outraged at the yard sign gap.  His campaign manager tried to excuse it as a policy decision not to waste money on yard signs.  The reality more likely is Cruz didn't have the money for them, while Beto did.  Cruz recently admitted he didn't have money for TV ads, which is when the donor started stepping up.  Still, Cruz can't dent Beto's momentum.

Look at what the donors to Cruz are getting for their money. Beto was in a punk band; Beto is for eminent domain (which is what Trump would have to use the length of the Texas border to build his wall); Beto will bring tofu and died hair to Texas. That last is significant because Cruz made that claim in Humble, just north of Houston. He dare not say it in Houston, the most ethnically diverse city in the country where Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants crowd the same streets alongside Indian, Greek, Mexican, steakhouses and hamburger joints. Bring tofu to Texas? Cruz, how out of touch are you?

A recent Texas Monthly article on this race pointed out that the last time Democrats won big in the state, voter turnout topped 50%.  Is that likely to happen again? Turnout for the Democratic primary set a record. If that translates into higher turnout, especially along the deep blue border where Beto is best known, interesting things could happen.  Two Republican House members are already considered vulnerable, something unthinkable even two years ago.  It would seem Democratic voters see a reason to vote, for once, and they are ready to take advantage of it.

Some state offices are comfortably GOP; some federal offices are not. Some state offices are up in the air. Texas won't become a two-party state in November; but it wouldn't be the first time it had Senators from both parties in D.C.


  1. I've learned that me being optimistic is a political jinx so I'm practicing principled pessimism as an aid to the candidates I like winning.

    The irresistible urge of the media and pundits etc. to put things in black and white, red and blue, is one of the reasons they so often are shocked. People want to learn the character of a state once and for all and never have that change, no matter how many people in that state don't fit and how people who once do don't have to stay that way. That would seem to be a major character of Americans with a college credential or so.

  2. To most people Houston is still the Urban Cowpie town of that crappy Travolta movie.

    Times change. I dare say Houston in general is more liberal and open minded than Austin, which is still too cool for the room and too proud of its now undeserved liberal street cred. I still like Austin, but I remember when it was the hippie-town in Texas and the Armadillo still stood. Now it's as corporate as anywhere in America.

    Everything changes. We need to get used to it.