End WH bid, run for Senate
WASHINGTON – One of Texas’ largest newspapers over the weekend had a message for former Rep. Beto O’Rourke: Texas needs you.
The Houston Chronicle’s editorial board called Saturday for O’Rourke to drop out of the 2020 presidential race and, instead, run for the Senate again, this time against GOP incumbent Sen. John Cornyn.
The editorial board pointed to a viral moment last week in which O’Rourke criticized the media for its reporting on President Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric. The editorial board wrote that the unscripted moment was a reminder that voters and the board itself “aren’t used to seeing candidates act like real people.”
O’Rourke paused his presidential campaign last week to stay in El Paso, which was the site of an apparently anti-Latino shooting that left at least 22 people dead. Authorities linked the alleged shooter to a manifesto that had anti-immigrant and anti-Latino ideologies. In addition, authorities said the suspect told them he was targeting Mexicans.
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“Frankly, it’s made us wish O’Rourke would shift gears, and rather than unpause his presidential campaign, we’d like to see him take a new direction,” the editorial board wrote. “So Beto, if you’re listening: Come home. Drop out of the race for president and come back to Texas to run for senator. The chances of winning the race you’re in now are vanishingly small.
“And Texas needs you,” the board continued.
O’Rourke turned heads last year during the midterm election when he ran for Senate against Sen. Ted Cruz, the other GOP incumbent senator in Texas. O’Rourke garnered national attention while on the campaign trail in 2018 following a viral moment when he passionately supported former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest of kneeling during the national anthem.
Cruz won reelection against O’Rourke by less than 3 percentage points, a margin that shocked pundits as Texas has been a deep red state. O’Rourke also flipped several suburbs in Dallas and Houston that usually vote Republican.
When O’Rourke first announced his presidential candidacy in late March, he dominated headlines. At the time, he raised $6.1 million in the first 24 hours of his campaign.
However, he has since slumped in both polling and fundraising. O’Rourke raised only $3.6 million in the second quarter of this year. He will be on the debate stage in September despite falling in polling and fundraising.
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Notwithstanding the latest plea for him to run for Senate, O’Rourke’s campaign has repeatedly pushed back against past efforts to convince him to switch contests and challenge Cornyn.
In a statement to CNN last week, O’Rourke campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said that following the El Paso shooting, “now more than ever, this country needs the honest leadership Beto continues to demonstrate — and that is why he [is] running for president.”
Despite being a native of Texas, O’Rourke is still behind frontrunner Joe Biden in polls in the state. O’Rourke is at 19% compared to Biden at 27.7% in Texas, according to a survey conducted by Emerson College for the Dallas Morning News.
The major Democratic candidate running against Cornyn, former Army helicopter pilot MJ Hegar, was at 9.9% in the Democratic primary, according to that survey. She trailed behind the “someone else” option, which was at 19.%.
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Cornyn is considered vulnerable, with his job approval rating currently at 37%, the survey found. Thirty-one percent disapprove of his job, and 33% said they were neutral or had no opinion.
Lauren Hitt, national director of rapid response for O’Rourke’s campaign, slammed the Houston Chronicle editorial on Monday.
“Really have to admire the logical leap here: Beto, you put Trump on defense on his signature issue. You got under his skin so badly even WH advisors think his El Paso trip was a debacle,” she wrote in a tweet. “You’re leading the Democratic presidential field in TX….so run for Senate”
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