Texas Republicans who watched Beto O’Rourke’s turnout operation in the 2018 Senate race fear the El Paso Democrat’s presidential bid could help turbocharge the state’s political trajectory — potentially imperiling some otherwise safe GOP incumbents.
O’Rourke hired hundreds of campaign field staffers for his 2018 Senate bid, helping his party pick up two congressional seats and a numbers of other offices across the state, even as he fell just short of defeating Sen. Ted Cruz.
“He’s very popular, particularly with young people and he’s good with messaging, he’s very likable,” said Rep. Ron Wright, a Republican who represents Ellis, Navarro and parts of Tarrant Counties. “I think you’ll see Republicans working a lot harder. They were taken by surprise in ‘18.”
Republicans lost a state Senate seat in Tarrant County in 2018, and despite spending many years on the ballot, Wright lost that portion of his district to Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez. Wright made up the votes with higher-than-expected turnout in rural parts of his district.
“What we saw in the suburbs happened all over the country. I think we’ll be ready for that this time,” added Wright, who said he thinks O’Rourke and other Democratic presidential candidates are politically too far left to be successful against President Donald Trump in Texas. “We’re going to be much better prepared on the money side and the messaging, as a party.”