After a rough stretch for the Republican Party, finally a lucky break: Beto O’Rourke says he’s thinking of running for governor.
That is, the governor of Texas.
After raising and spending $80 million in the 2018 Senate race, O’Rourke finished about three percentage points behind Ted Cruz. Then he launched a presidential campaign that is probably best remembered for his emphatic cry “Hell yes, we’re going to take away your AR-15!” and his allegedly lovable anecdote about the time he tried to trick his wife into eating baby poop. His presidential campaign lasted seven and a half months, and he dropped out before the first contests. As I wrote when he left the race:
Beto O’Rourke did not lose anything between 2018 and 2019 — er, other than a Senate race. He is essentially the same man he was a year ago. The biggest thing that changed was that now he was running against other Democrats that some members of the media liked better. Towards the end of summer, O’Rourke had no choice but to joke about how differently he was perceived, compared to the Senate race. Late-night host Seth Meyers asked him, “You ran against Ted Cruz in a Senate campaign. Do you ever miss how easy it was to be different from Ted Cruz?” “Where is Ted Cruz when you need him?” O’Rourke joked. (“In the Senate,” Cruz replied via Twitter.)
This year, the whole country got to see the Beto O’Rourke that some of us have seen from the beginning. Years from now, when O’Rourke’s name is mentioned, Democrats will wonder why they got so excited about him once. He is the political equivalent of Reebok’s Dan and Dave competition, the Macarena, The Blair Witch Project, and any other short-lived trend that seems inexplicable in retrospect.