Beto can beat Abbott and turn Texas blue.
Over the last week or two, inside sources have been whispering that Beto O’Rourke plans on running for governor of Texas. About a week ago, I watched a local Democratic club host a Zoom meeting with Beto, and he hinted that he would run. Then, a few days ago, several news outlets broke the news that Beto was planning on running.
The internet lit up. He still hasn’t officially announced, but Texas liberals rejoiced at the news.
On both sides of the aisle, some naysayers claimed Beto couldn’t beat Greg Abbott. However, when looking at the data and what has to be done, I say he can.
Beto’s position on guns.
People on the right and far left believe that Beto can’t win because he said he would take away your AR-15s. He clarified that statement many times. Not handguns, not hunting rifles, but specific weapons made intentionally to murder as many human beings as possible in the shortest amount of time. Nearly every mass shooting in America, including the Walmart shooting in Beto’s hometown in 2019, was carried out with an AR-15.
Many people talk about guns and gun ownership in Texas and like to infer that Texas is the most heavily armed state in America. However, that’s far from true. Texas isn’t even in the top 20. In fact, there are many states, including several blue states, that are more heavily armed than us.
An estimated 5 million people in America own AR-15s. Since Texas has 11% of America’s population, that means 11% of AR-15 owners live here. That’s 550,000 people.
There are 21 million eligible voters in Texas. So we can outvote 550,000 people who might cast their ballot because they don’t want to lose their murder weapon.
Sure, there will be misinformed folk who think Beto will come for all guns, but they’re the far-right and would never vote for a Democrat, regardless of who it is.
Independent voters will listen to Beto on guns.
Aside from that, most Texans oppose permitless carry and feel like Texas isn’t doing enough about gun violence.
Despite all of the carnival barkers and naysayers, most Texans agree with Beto’s position on guns. Those who don’t will always vote Republican; they are the far-right that Abbott and other state Republican leaders pander to.
But Beto lost the last two elections …
In 2018, Beto built an army and traveled to every county in Texas exciting his base. He only lost to Ted Cruz by 2.5% (215,000 votes).
But here’s the thing. In 2018, there were 19.9 million eligible voters in Texas, but only 15.7 million registered voters and only 8.3 million people showed up to the polls. In 2018, only 42% of eligible voters voted. So even though Beto built an army, the army he built wasn’t big enough. In 2022, it will be.
Then, there was the failed presidential run. Beto didn’t lose that race because he was unpopular or because people didn’t like him. He lost that race because most Democratic voters chose the candidate they thought had the best shot at beating Trump. That just happened to be Joe Biden. Many of us knew that Beto wouldn’t win the primary to become the contender against Trump. Some of us felt it was a mistake for him to run in that race.
Perhaps it was.
As human beings, we all learn from our mistakes, and between the 2018 and 2020 races, Beto has become battle tested.
He’s grown a lot as a person and a political candidate.
Honestly, when people started chatting about Beto earlier this year, I had some reservations. However, during his June Tour for Democracy, I watched several of his speeches. He’s not the same candidate he was in 2018 or 2020. He’s better than I remember; sharp, humble, passionate, and laser-focused on the issues. Watching his speeches gave me hope and made me feel enthusiastic about the possibilities of a better, bluer Texas. I dropped all of my reservations at that point.
In 2018, a midterm election, only 42% of eligible voters turned out. However, in the midterm election before that — 2014 — only 24% of eligible voters showed up.
2018 was the first time more than 30% of eligible voters in Texas ever voted in a midterm election. So Beto did that. He drove the people to the polls on both sides of the aisle.
How Beto will win in 2022.
Texas’ blue army. Thousands of activists, volunteers, and campaign workers are fighting tooth and nail to turn Texas blue. Last I heard, Powered by People has 2,600 ambassadors registering people to vote and getting the word out about voting in 2022.
We need an army to win. And we have it.
The Texas Democratic Party has vowed to register 2 million new voters by the 2022 election. In one of Beto’s live streams, he mentioned registering 3 million (although that’s probably too ambitious). Still, between the state party and Beto’s group, there is little doubt that they will be able to bring 2 million new voters to the table.
Many of these new voters are younger and more politically engaged than their older counterparts. The youth vote is going to drive this election. Republicans have already lost the youth vote with their authoritarianism and draconian laws.
All we have to do is register 2 million new voters and make sure they show up to the polls.
What about the naysayers?
Republicans and out-of-staters. The only skin these naysayers have in the game is creating a narrative that will give them a leg up. Democrats from other states don’t necessarily understand Texas or Texas voters if they think Beto can’t win.
To beat Abbott, Beto and Democrats need to focus on his failures. There are plenty. Abbott’s catastrophic Covid response, his failure to fix the grid, and his war on women are enough to drive every left-leaning voter to the polls to vote him out.
Beto has the best support and infrastructure of any Texas Democrat out there.
He can do it. We can do it. Texas is turning blue in 2022.
This article originally appeared in Living Blue in Texas and has been slightly edited.
Photo credit: “Beto O’Rourke with supporters” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
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