One of the most popular and exciting candidates, from last mid-term election, has what it takes to be president!
Let’s be clear: Beto didn’t win his Texas Senate race against Ted Cruz on November 6, Texas. But, the Democratic Senate candidate, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, came within 3 percentage points of defeating Sen. Ted Cruz.
Not only did O’Rourke dominate Cruz in the state’s five most-populous counties, encompassing the urban cores of Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio, he also won a higher percentage of the vote there than Hillary Clinton did, suggesting that O’Rourke was a more effective candidate in these key zones than Clinton was.
In future races, Democrats would be thrilled if their candidates can re-create O’Rourke’s margins, but if they regress to Clinton’s margins, it’s hard to see a blue Texas anytime soon.
Beto O’Rourke at 46 years old proved throughout his spirited, county-hopping campaign, as well as on Election Day—where he pulled well over 48% in a reliably red state—that he has what it takes to be the Democrats’ next political superstar.
He might even have what it takes to be president.
Whatever “it” is, it doesn’t have to do with age. Though at 46 years old O’Rourke certainly projects an Obamaesque youthful energy, one can’t forget that in 2016 it was a cantankerous septuagenarian from Vermont who most clearly demonstrated “it” on the Democratic side—as evidenced by Bernie Sanders’ enormous campaign crowds and the fact that, for no obvious reason, he made the Democratic primary contest a surprisingly tight one.
No—whatever pixie dust comprises “it,” it has more to do with energy, rhetorical inertia, and a deep commitment to being comfortable in one’s own skin than anything else. Bill Clinton had his saxophone, Obama had his absolutely everything, and Beto has his YouTubed air-drumming at a Whataburger drive-thru. These are three people not just happy being themselves but evidently and gregariously so; they’re happy doing what they do and they’re conspicuously sanguine about facing the slings and arrows of being human. The glare of klieg lights only makes them more themselves, not less.
The Democrats have some strong potential candidates already jockeying for position in advance of the 2020 Democratic primaries, but none capture the zeitgeist of a Clinton or an Obama quite like Beto does. The lanky, good-looking, perpetually restless former punk rocker has a way of always seeming seconds from a smile, an air guitar riff, or a road trip to see an indie band at a venue in Marfa. It seemed, during much of Beto’s 2018 Senate campaign, that he wasn’t just the guy everyone wanted to have a beer with, but the guy everyone wanted to be friends with. And that’s saying something—more importantly, it’s saying something that would resonate in all corners of the country.
There’s no need to knock any of the Democrats’ current leading lights for the sake of elevating Beto. Suffice to say that many of them are self-admittedly senatorial, inexplicably provocative of the Republican base, or so much of a blast from the past that even their staffers are bemused at the prospect of lacing up their presidential-campaign sneakers again.
Far more important to note, though, is this: the idea that a former Congressman who ran the best statewide Texas Democratic campaign since Ann Richards can’t run for president at a time when Donald Trump has his finger on the nuclear trigger is laughable. Let’s be clear: in 2020, there are no restrictions on who can credibly run for president. Anyone can. And compared to the gaggle of businessmen and attorneys who now want to run on the Democratic side (because if Trump can do it, why can’t they?) and compared, too, to the gaggle of Democratic elders who’ve been unsuccessful on the presidential hustings in the past but are now willing to give it another go, Beto O’Rourke looks both ready and amply qualified. Surely no one any longer doubts his intelligence, drive, principles, or charisma.