Democrat Beto O’Rourke came so close to unseating a Republican in the red state of Texas during last year’s U.S. senate race that his supporters believe he could topple an even bigger political cretin – Donald Trump. Supporters made it rain more than $6 million into O’Rourke’s campaign war chest within 24 hours after the El Paso-based candidate announced he was running for president.
O’Rourke’s first-day financial tally bested all other amounts posted by 2020 Democratic candidates. O’Rourke’s Midas touch shouldn’t be a surprise – he raised $80 million while trying to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz last year. Then again, a rotted tree stump could have raised money if someone thought it had a chance to beat Cruz. How would you like to be nicknamed “Lyin’ Ted” by a guy who tweets more lies in a month than a lifetime of fibs told by Benedict Arnold, Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, Charles Ponzi, and the 1919 Chicago White Sox combined?
During the last presidential election, Sen. Bernie Sanders was the Democrats’ shiny new toy, if “shiny” and “new” can be applied to a lifelong politician older than mold. And yet Sanders’ own party stabbed him in the back and foisted the ethically icky Hillary Clinton into the candidacy. Sanders is back vying for the presidency as an independent, raising $5.9 million in his first 24 hours after announcing his candidacy. Still, Sanders missed his train in 2016, and that locomotive is not turning around for him or any other old white guys.
O’Rourke’s youthful good looks and piles of money are keeping him relevant in a political party quickly being taken over by youthful women of color hellbent on tackling economic and social inequality. The Dems, with the help of a growing minority population in the United States, will take control of national politics one day and begin reversing years of institutional inequality. Until then, it would be a big leap in 2020 to change from a red-dog populist conservative like Trump to a blue-bordering-on-socialist candidate along the lines of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pushing the controversial Green New Deal.
A moderate milquetoast such as O’Rourke might be the ideal gateway candidate.