Beto O’Rourke: Is this the man to take down Trump?

By | October 7, 2018

Ed Pilkington reports:

On a balmy night in Austin, against the backdrop of the glittering high-rises of the city’s booming downtown, Beto O’Rourke is laying out his audacious plan to change the face of Texas, and America.

In front of him, packed into an open-air park, a largely young crowd of 40,000 is thrumming with scarcely contained glee. Even in the liberal bubble of Austin they have never experienced anything like this: a Democrat seriously in the running for a Senate seat, vying to topple Ted Cruz, the Tea Party fanatic whom even fellow Republicans call “Lucifer in the flesh”.

“We are not running against anything or any political party,” O’Rourke tells his supporters. He punches his arm in the air like a pumped-up revolutionary while simultaneously wooing them with a crooner’s charms.

The message is relentlessly positive. The 45-year-old has tweaked Barack Obama’s 2008 catchphrase “Hope and change” for darker times, so now it becomes: “Hope over fear”. “We are running for each other and this country that I love so much,” he says, to a giant roar.

Audacious is too detached a word for O’Rourke’s campaign. “Nuclear” gets closer. That a punk rocker-turned-politician who a year ago was barely known outside El Paso, the border town he represents in Congress, should be competitive at all in Texas is miraculous.

The state last saw a Democratic US senator 25 years ago. It has filled every statewide office with Republicans since 1998.

The latest polls put the race within margins of error. The respected Cook Political Report astounded observers by recently ranking the election as a “toss up”. Real Clear Politics’ tracking poll has Cruz up four points, but it also has the contest as a toss up.

A toss up? The implications flood in. Were O’Rourke to send Cruz packing it could hand back control of the Senate to the Democrats, with all that entails for Donald Trump’s program – and possible impeachment.

But the reverberations would go much further than that. Texas has the second largest population in the nation. With the number of Texans projected to double to more than 50 million by 2050 – think California and New York combined – its already outsized influence on US culture and politics is set to explode. [Continue reading…]

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