Those are the questions that entered my mind when I watched the ABC 7 Xtra show last Sunday night with Beto O’rourke. He gave every indication that he is going to run for Congress. He toyed with the idea recently and then chose otherwise at the last minute.
His decision to not run for another term, when he has the ability to do so, is probably the clearest indicator that he is going to do it.
But I think there are also a fair amount of indicators that he won’t do it. More on that in a minute.
But first, let’s talk a little about O’rourke. I am a liberal, so while many might look at Beto as the devil, he is far from it. I can honestly say that there are very few leaders that I have met in my life like Beto O’rourke. He has something that I think too many elected officials lack, the balls to stand up for their convictions, the balls to stand up for minorities, even if it means some public scorn.
Most politicians look for the path of least resistance or do what is most politically expedient. Beto O’rourke has never been that guy. He’s had the guts to stand by his beliefs and I think this town would be better off if more people did so. I’ve interviewed a lot of elected officials and candidates and I have seen some worms. I have seen people duck and dodge questions. I’ve seen people have public tantrums before I was even able to ASK my questions. But O’rourke is a stand-up vato who will take the hard questions. I know, I’ve asked him several, including one that admittedly made me a little squeamish to ask but he answered like a total pro.
There is a lot I don’t agree with O’rourke about, but he’s a strong liberal and I admire the fact that he’s not ashamed of it. And I can’t think of an El Paso leader that I was more proud of when O’rourke took on the priest at one of his last meetings, other than Congressman Reyes when he faced the town hall meetings.
So lets examine why I think he won’t run. Basically the reason I think he won’t run is because Beto is a smart guy. He’s said some pretty interesting stuff in that ABC 7 interview that certainly weren’t gaffes. He meant what he said. And that’s the reason I think he’s not going to run. Let me lay it out for you.
As a liberal, I am a union man. I believe in unions and collective bargaining. It’s a Democratic national platform central tenant. That’s why Republicans are trying so hard to do away with them. Which is why Beto’s comments about unions really bother me and I think make a congressional run problematic at best.
Beto is a liberal and so if he were running, it would be in the Democratic Primary. He said that El Paso’s had the same congressman for going on 20 years. Its actually 14 years, so I guess Beto is awarding him 3 extra terms. But there is a reason we’ve had the same congressman…El Paso voters like him.
They aren’t going to like Beto’s remarks about unions. He has not only said publically that the police officer’s union is “out of control”, but he’s gone so far as to say he doesn’t think civil servants should have collective bargaining...period.
Democrats are NOT going to be okay with that sentiment. Nor should they.
The question following host Darren Hunts question about a possible congressional bid was about running for mayor. This is were I think O’rourke really showed his hand.
He said Mayor Cook was doing a great job (he’s termed-out btw), and spoke of how the Mayor is the first to arrive and last to leave. Beto then closed the conversation with, “I just don’t know if I can keep up with those kinds of demands”.
He was speaking of being mayor, but think about how many more hours he’d be putting in as a Congressman. Much, much, much more. Beto has three young children, which would complicate a heavy congressional work load that much more. Plus that puts him in a really awkward situation. Would he travel to DC and leave his family here? Or would he take his young family to DC and deal with people saying he’s never in his district?
And finally…there’s the drug thing. There’s no getting around the big elephant in the room. He is very vocal about his support of something very controversial. I think that policy stance is not only unpopular, but that it scares people in El Paso.
That’s not a good thing.
Its not a thing voters are going to forget and it will likely be the topic that defines the race. But based on the factor s I mentioned, this conversation will be like talking about a Paqcuaio – Mayweather fight…it just ain’t gonna happen.