Beto O’Rourke failed in his bid to unseat Texas Senator Ted Cruz, but the attempt made him the most widely recognized Texas Democrat without any direct ties to the Obama Administration. That last point is more important than most might think. This is simply because nothing will make Texas conservatives overlook a direct link to what man they are determined to make America’s last Black President.
Beto is trying to use that recognition now as he accelerates his campaign for the Governorship of the state. He is running the same platform with one notable exception, which we’ll get to in a minute.
The incumbent Governor, Greg Abbott, has chosen to fully embrace every aspect of White Nationalist Trumpism in the hopes that the state’s aggressive gerrymandering will overcome the staggering COVID death toll among Republican voters, as well as the backlash from the power grid failure last winter, and carry him to another term.
O’Rourke already knows that he’s got the vote of every Democrat who will show up, because whatever Democrat ends up on the ballot running against Abbott does.
That same Democrat candidate will also receive many secret, silent votes from Libertarian and Republican women who will never publicly admit they voted against the Republican incumbent, but who will do so specifically because of the recent anti-abortion bill Abbott pushed through a special session of the state Congress. These votes will noticeably skew the predictions and exit polling.
They won’t; however, be enough to overcome the gerrymandering.
Which brings us back to O’Rourke’s new platform focus.
He has chosen to put legalization of marijuana front and center in this election race.
Every single item needed to cultivate and process the plant from seed to sale is manufactured here in Texas. There is no shortage of land, or financially troubled farms, that could easily and quickly become marijuana farms. That would immediately create jobs working crops for a product that will actually move in today’s economic market. It would also create jobs in all regions for resale shops, at a time when small business store fronts are failing. It would create a massive tax revenue stream for the state that would immediately start paying down the deficit, as it has for other states.
Finally, the legalized marijuana industry has some heavy hitter former Republicans and Republican darling celebrities behind it as owners and investors.
This could be the issue that eventually drives some of the male Libertarian and Republican voters to cast their own secret, silent ballots for a Democrat party candidate, especially the younger ones that want to have easy access without the risk of a criminal record.
Will it be enough to drive Democrat voter participation and Republican/Libertarian defection to levels that will overcome the state’s aggressive voter suppression and gerrymandering of districts?
Unless Congress quickly passes the John Lewis Voter’s Rights Act and makes it enforceable for the 2022 elections, we better all hope so.