(Get 'em while they're hot if it's your thing.)
*Update, Monday 11/26.
"Amy and I made a decision not to rule anything out."
O'Rourke's wife, Amy, said that the couple has not spoken with any political strategists, and said that the possibility of her husband running a presidential campaign was flattering and “scary.”“To me that just seems like you have to give up so much,” she said, according to the Washington Post. “I don’t know if this is a line that I or we really want to cross.”
Asked if his position on 2020 is different than it was before the November election, when he said he would not run for president, O’Rourke said, “Yeah, yeah it is.”
Beto for president?
"I will not be a candidate for president in 2020," the El Paso congressman told MSNBC. "That's I think as definitive as those sentences get."
Let's take him at his word, despite the fact that he has already won the media/political consultant 2020 primary. Recall that he hired none of the body politic's parasites despite his $70 million haul, $38 million of it in the third quarter. He can't run for president and do that again.
Let's review his comments from the CNN town hall in late October, which to my reading addressed both potential future bids for public office (italic emphasis is mine).
When the question (of a 2020 presidential run) was put directly to O’Rourke during a CNN town hall last month in the Rio Grande Valley, a crowd made up mostly of young college students cheered wildly. O’Rourke’s response was purposely brief:
“The answer is no,” O’Rourke said, citing strains of public life on his wife and three young children. “It’s a definite no.”
Pressed by CNN host Dana Bash as to whether “no” meant “never,” O’Rourke seemed to put a potential expiration date on his promise not to run for president.
“Let me put it this way,” O’Rourke said, “I promise you, and most importantly to the people of Texas, that I will serve every single day of a six-year term in the United States Senate.”
Then, making a not-too-subtle comparison to (Ted) Cruz, who launched his White House bid half-way through his Senate term, O’Rourke added, “I won’t leave the state to go run for president.”
“If I don’t win,” the three-term congressman added, “we’re back in El Paso” — his home town.
Beyond what may have been campaign fatigue doing the talking, a presidential campaign runs on very different terms than a Senate one. One example would be the opening shots fired by the now-eclipsed Castro twins, running to O'Rourke's right for the crossover Republican in the 2020 D primary vote. Or something.
While party leaders were urging Democrats to remain focused on healthcare, taxes and other pocketbook issues, O’Rourke was calling to impeach Trump and abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, putting him at odds with even would-be political allies.
“I know right now people think of ICE and they think of immigration and removal, but ICE also does things like enforcing human trafficking laws,” Rep. Joaquin Castro, another rising star in Texas’s Democratic circles, said in a recent interview. “We’re not going to just do away with all those other functions.”
(Sidebar: Both Castros, the Congresscritter quoted here and his brother, the one with the actual White House dreams, are no longer rising stars but stale, burnt toast. Their overly-cautious x 10 approach to running for something statewide -- being too afraid of losing political viability by risking electoral defeat -- lost them their credibility with Texas Democrats tired of waiting around on them. And their misreading of the political tea leaves of Team Donkey this year was a yuuuge opportunity cost; they waited so long for their Raza to turn out that they missed the bus. Julian's meager political capital accrued as Obama's HUD secretary has expired, like the milk pushed to the back of the fridge. Beto O'Rourke ran them both off the road and into the bar ditch, and they're still waiting for a tow truck. The state's corporate media, the only thing keeping them inflated now, ought to be ready to move on in favor of some of the fresher, bolder flavors of the month.)
So ... Beto for Senate 2.0? Wise guys have pointed out that all those yard signs had no date on them, after all. I say look again at what he said about family.
(T)hose close to O’Rourke say his denials are sincere. The congressman spent the better part of the last two years away from his wife, Amy, and their three kids as he traveled the dusty backroads of Texas. A friend said the separation had weighed heavily on O’Rourke, particularly in the final weeks, and that he genuinely had no appetite or deep ambition to embark on a campaign that would take him away from his family for another two years.
In an emotional moment on his livestream as he raced around the state in search of the last few votes, O’Rourke spoke of how much he missed his wife. He said he was dreaming of the moment where he could just sit down with a cup of coffee with her in their backyard and not have to be anywhere.
Those with the candles still lit for him will point to his thank-you email to supporters a few days after the election, about enjoying his family's company but "already miss(ing) the road".
My humble O:
Beto 2018 was lightning in a bottle, a perfect storm. The phenomenon of O'Rourke's fresh appeal and somewhat unique campaign (at least for Texas), combined with the almost universal disgust of his opponent, allowed him to leverage nationwide Obama-like free media coverage and force-multiply his fundraising to Bernie Sanders proportions. Though he managed consistently close polling results throughout the year, he never had one by a credible source showing him in the lead.
As the race moved into the Indian summer homestretch, Cruz finally pulled together a serious effort to hold on to his seat, and the polls revealed his small lead growing. Then ...
Trump came to Houston to stump for Cruz in a pep rally of what appeared to be immense proportions and intensity. But it had the opposite effect on our Senate race; the Texas polls tightened, with Trump's national approval ratings tanking as Election Day came closer. Then the swollen early turnout numbers started coming in, and gradually we learned that across every demographic, Democrats -- Latin@s, millennials, and women, especially suburban women who had previously voted GOP -- produced the same kind of surge (or backlash, if you prefer) that had given Republicans a boost from the Kavanaugh confirmation. That outrage by liberals, which temporarily enhanced the fortunes of conservatives, petered out (sorry) because it did not happen late enough in the tempestuous '18 cycle. Go to this TexTrib link for their take on the last few weeks (scroll to the 7th graf from the bottom if you don't want to read the whole thing).
I just don't think this scenario can be re-created for Beto, certainly not a Castro or anybody else in 2020. Red rural Texas saved the day for Ted, as everyone knows. Anybody taking on Cowboy John in two years has to run better, harder, faster, stronger, with even more than $70 million and maybe even some hired help plus get a few more lucky breaks than Beto did this year. Awfully tall order. Cornyn ain't Cruz and Trump might be in jail, ya know.
But Beto is telling his closest pals that everything is on the table, so there you have it. I think he marks himself as Just Another Egotistical Politician if he does. Run, that is.
With respect to 2020's White House sweepstakes: if Trump faces a primary challenge from John Kasich he probably still wins but goes into November two years from now even more of a wounded, snarling animal than he is now. And that presumes Nancy Pelosi means what she says about impeachment, which sort of means Mueller has less than everybody believes. Even if it's President Pence, Democrats should have a better than even shot at taking back the White House ... unless they nominate a geriatric milquetoast like Biden, or some identity politician working both sides of the street but sweeping up nothing, like Kamala Harris or Cory Booker. I am not enthused about Liz Warren or Bernie any more, either. They can't pull the centrists, moderates, Hillbots and assorted shitlibs in behind them to win. Those POS would rather see Trump win again than vote for a progressive or a so-called socialist.
On the whole, methinks Beto makes a better running mate for almost every other Democrat who would be president save Bernie or Biden. And -- to allow them some redemption -- there might even be a place for a Castro with either of those in order to keep the Lone Star State's 38 electoral votes in play, forcing Repubs to play defense. That might be the one thing that actually jeopardizes Cornyn; Beto or a Castro running against him while the other runs as veep. That's a similar recipe to 2018's down-ballot blue wave, with the fortunes of those at the top of the ticket inconsequential to the success of the Congressionals, statehouse, and courthouse candidates.
Twenty-twenty is not just a presidential year and a census year but a year in which Texas will be electing a legislature that will be drawing the lines for three new Congressional districts, to be filled in 2022. So more than just the usual 'most important election of our lifetime' will be at stake.
All of those US and Texas House seats that were barely won (and some that weren't) plus these Texas Senate chairs (scroll to line 36 to identify). As far as the US Senate goes, there are only a handful of pickup shots for the Blues: Maine (Susan Collins), Colorado (Cory Gardner), maybe AZ, NC, IA. They don't need many to flip the Senate, but they won't get John Cornyn's unless Texas gets another perfect storm. Since we get 500-year storms every year now, I suppose it could happen.
Can O'Rourke do it his way again and get a different, better result in a presidential cycle? Does he want to do it all over once more, just to be the guy that everybody else thanks for helping them get elected? Can a Castro or Beto get picked veep, setting the table for the Senate nominee and positioning the Donks to flip the state blue just in time for redistricting?
Trump says: "we'll see what happens". There's your very early line, courtesy me.