Looking ahead to 2022, the Democrats in Texas are in a weak statewide position. They can win districts or turn cities like Dallas blue. At the same time, they can't win statewide or turn out voters, as we saw in the recent special election.
So will they call on Beto O'Rourke to run for governor and lead the ticket? The answer is yes, but is Beto ready to challenge the well financed and popular Governor Greg Abbott? Also, 2022 will be Biden's first midterm, and that's usually bad news for the incumbent party.
So the ball is in Beto's court, according to local political analyst Gromer Jeffers, Jr.:
If O'Rourke gets in the race, it gives Democrats a strong candidate at the top of the ticket with the ability to raise significant campaign cash.
But O'Rourke, who in 2020 made an ill-fated run for president, has to worry about running against Abbott and taking his third election loss in five years. Another defeat could dash his hopes to win a high-profile election beyond 2022, when the Senate seat held by Cruz will be up again.
The problem for Democrats is that few other big-name politicos want to run against Abbott, including former Housing Secretary Julian Castro and his twin brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro.
Lesser-known candidates, including Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, are being mentioned as contenders against Abbott. I got calls from folks who heard about a Jenkins campaign photo session two weeks ago. That could have been for his reelection bid. Jenkins says he's not interested in running for governor.
The wildcard for both parties is Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey, who is considering running for governor but has not announced a party affiliation. A recent poll by The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler shows McConaughey winning a hypothetical match-up against Abbott.
Before you sign up for the McConaughey campaign, many polls had Biden winning Texas before the election. Trump won by 7 and Senator Cornyn by 13. Buyer beware of all those polls!
O'Rourke is in a tough position. The party wants him, but he may not want to risk a third loss in four years. Yes, he did well against Senator Cruz, but he fell apart in the presidential primary because he competed with Bernie Sanders rather than present himself as the more moderate Texan. His positions on AR-15s and gun control will not play well with statewide voters.
So are the Democrats stuck? The Castro twins from San Antonio know that they can't win outside their ZIP codes. There is literally no Democrat who can run statewide.
The Democrats are down to Governor Abbott fumbling big time, but that's unlikely. The governor has recovered from the electric grid collapse of a few months ago, and his decision to open up Texas was correct.
So what's Beto going to run on? My guess is that he won't, and he will wait for a rematch with Senator Cruz in 2024.
PS: You can listen to my show (Canto Talk).
Image: Gage Skidmore.
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