In politics, things can change pretty fast. A mere six months ago, Beto O’Rourke was the hottest thing going. Now, he’s a wounded animal.
After overperforming in last year’s Senate race but still losing to Republican Ted Cruz, O’Rourke has embarked on an ill-fated presidential campaign. His entry into the Democratic contest earned him Obama-like attention. It has been entirely downhill from there.
He has shown very little substance and used meaningless rhetoric on the campaign trail, and he appears hopelessly ambitious.
His early failure on the national stage has led some Democrats to encourage him to drop out and challenge Sen. John Cornyn. Their rationale is based on his 2018 Senate run against Cruz, which he was able to make very close in a historically red state.
But here’s a reality check: The idea that O’Rourke could defeat Cornyn in Texas in a presidential election year is preposterous.
He raised a historic $80 million dollars for the race against Cruz, aided by the influx of Hollywood celebrities endorsing him — and he still lost.
O’Rourke will simply not be able to replicate this level of funding or the advantageous political environment from the last cycle.
Cornyn has the benefit of having watched the Cruz-O’Rourke race closely. He will not be caught off guard. To Cornyn’s credit, he already has a massive fundraising war chest of more than $7 million.
History is also on his side: Cornyn has won five statewide races in Texas and has never lost a campaign.
Unlike Cruz’s position, Cornyn also enjoys high favorable numbers in Texas, with recent polling showing 44 percent of voters see him favorably, while 33 percent do not. Meanwhile, 40 percent view Beto very unfavorably, with only 22 percent viewing him very favorably.
While in Congress, O’Rourke voted against President Donald Trump’s tax-cut plan, which benefited all Texas taxpayers by doubling the standard deduction and reducing everyone’s tax rates.
When running against Cruz, O’Rourke opposed the Supreme Court confirmation Brett Kavanaugh. The reality is that O’Rourke’s policies appeal more to voters in California and New York, which is why he raised a massive amount of money from out of state.
Cornyn, on the other hand, has supported Trump’s tax cuts and immigration policies He has also been instrumental in Trump’s plan to reshape the federal courts. As a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he helped shepherd through Justice Neil Gorsuch and Kavanugh, along with a record 41 circuit judges and a grand total of 125 federal judges.
The bloom is off the rose for Beto. He inspired many people last year in Texas. He sold them on the possibility of a Democrat winning a U.S. Senate race. But even in the most advantageous circumstance, he fell short.
Cornyn’s seniority on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees benefits the state. He has delivered for Texans time and time again. A national liberal candidate will not break a statewide win streak for Texas Republicans that has lasted since 1994. Especially not in a presidential year.
O’Rourke already decided once not to challenge Cornyn. We will see if he trusts his instincts again.