This past weekend, Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke of El Paso announced that he will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge the reelection of incumbent Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Between events, I caught O’Rourke at a bus stop at the corner of 11th Street and Congress Avenue in Austin, across the street from the Texas Capitol. The podcast that follows is an edited version of our conversation.
A few excerpts:
Beto O’Rourke: “We have become overly fixated, not only with our own re-election, which has been deeply damaging to our democracy, not just chasing the donations and corporate cash that makes that possible, but we’ve set up these campaign super structures in our parties, the D-Triple-C [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] and the Republican equivalent. And its full time mission is to beat the Will Hurds of the world. … What that does is it reinforces the partisanship and makes it incredibly difficult to work across the aisle.”
BO: “Democrats have been running campaigns funded on corporate cash, running a playbook out of Washington, D.C., and have gotten somewhere between 38 and 41 percent over the last thirty years since the last time we won the Senate with Lloyd Bentsen. So I could kill myself running for Senate, crisscrossing this state meeting people, showing up, working my heart out, leaving my kids home with Amy and come up with 41 percent. That’s not worth anyone’s sacrifice. So I’m going to run to win, and it’s going to require doing this a different way, a better way, a more honest way. My trust is in the people of Texas.”
BO: “No corporate cash, no PAC money, no Super PACs. … Watch me walk the walk. Watch me not take PAC money. Watch me say publicly as I’m saying to you I don’t want any Super PACs to get involved in this race on either side, including my side. And watch me not show up at Super PAC fundraisers courting cash in exchange for access.”
BO: “Charlottes Furniture didn’t have the accounting controls in place. They made a mistake. My mom has said as much. And that’s the story.”
Earlier this year, we spoke to political consultant and network television commentator Matthew Dowd, who is considering an independent run for Senate. As the race goes along, from time to time, we will be posting interviews with the various candidates, including Cruz. If U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro of San Antonio enters the Democratic primary, we will seek him out for an interview. In the meantime, please read one he gave to the Texas Observer.