HOUSTON — Beto O’Rourke has fallen short twice while running for statewide office in Texas.
The Democrat has galvanized voters but he couldn’t topple the red wall of rural Texas.
What’s lining up to be a double-digit loss to Gov. Greg Abbott isn’t pushing O’Rourke to the side just yet. He's leaving the door open to be involved in Texas politics in one way or the other.
Although, the next steps for O’Rourke after losing are unclear.
“I don’t know my role or yours... going forward but I’m in this fight for life. I’m in this with you,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke, who also lost a 2018 Senate bid and a 2020 Democratic presidential bid, signaled he would stay involved in some capacity.
“I know he’s going to stay involved. I know he’s going to bring resources to Texas. I know his mission is Texas, his heart is Texas and we look forward to him staying involved,” Harris County Democratic Party Chairman Odus Evbagharu said.
O’Rourke blames the “odds stacked against” him, including voter suppression, for his loss.
“The advantage that they had in money, in people, in the powers of incumbency and the levers that they could pull in the way that voter registration and just being able to cast a ballot in Texas is a lot harder than it has to be and a lot harder for people who might otherwise be voting for us,” O’Rourke said.
However, just as O’Rourke did for down-ballot Democrats in major metro areas, he’s poised to again lead Democrats to victory in those areas.
“It is true, him being on the ballot got a lot of our folks out, got our base out,” Evbagharu said.
The Democratic base contributed to holding off a Republican charge to take back county government in Harris County.
“He knew what he was doing. He knew it was to help the ticket and lift the ticket up in places like Harris County, Dallas County, Tarrant County, Barrett County where we had some strong performances,” Evbagharu said.
Ultimately, Democrats, including O’Rourke, will need a new recipe to topple the Republican stronghold that is Texas.
“There’s more Republicans in Texas than there are Democrats and that’s just the truth. We have to be honest about that but we have to continue registering voters we got to continually energize our base,” Evbagharu said.
Looking forward, there are some party leaders, including Evbagharu, pushing for a Black candidate for statewide office.
O’Rourke also joked that the next time you see the name O’Rourke on the ballot it might just be his wife, Amy O’Rourke who was heavily involved in the campaign.