A LOSING BETO: BOTH THEN AND NOW

Question:  how can you tell the New York Times has given up on Democrat Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke winning his senate race against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz?

Answer:  one week before election day – now that it seems pretty clear it won’t affect the outcome – they’ve published an article damaging to O’Rourke that should have been out there weeks, maybe months, ago.

What am I talking about?  Read the following excerpt from Stephanie Saul’s article in today’s paper and see for yourself:

EL PASO — At a special City Council meeting in 2006, a billionaire real estate investor unveiled his vision for redeveloping downtown El Paso. To replace tenements and boarded-up buildings, he proposed restaurants, shops and an arts walk rivaling San Antonio’s River Walk.

Representative Beto O’Rourke, one of hundreds attending, wasn’t exactly a disinterested party.

Not only had he married the investor’s daughter, but as a member of City Council he represented the targeted area, including a historic Mexican-American neighborhood.

Calling downtown “one piece of El Paso that was missing on the road back to greatness,” Mr. O’Rourke, now the Democratic candidate for Senate in Texas, voted to take the first step forward with the plan.

Over the next two years, Mr. O’Rourke would defend the plan before angry barrio residents and vote to advance it. At other times, he would abstain. Business owners who opposed the plan accused Mr. O’Rourke of a conflict, citing the involvement of his father-in-law, the billionaire developer William D. Sanders.

Twelve years later, Mr. O’Rourke is championing progressive causes, attracting millions of dollars from small donors across the country and eschewing political action committee money in what he calls a grass-roots effort to unseat Ted Cruz, the Republican incumbent, in one of the most closely watched Senate races in the midterms. Polls show Mr. Cruz with a modest lead.  

Yet, as Mr. O’Rourke’s national popularity grows — there is even speculation he may run for president in two years — his involvement in the proposed El Paso redevelopment highlights a side of his record that, on its surface, seems to contradict the populist image he has cultivated in Texas and nationally. 

Mr. O’Rourke was perceived by many as siding with the moneyed elite against angry barrio residents, small business owners and even the Jesuit priests who ministered to the immigrant community at Sacred Heart Church. 

“Mr. O’Rourke was basically the pretty face of this very ugly plan against our most vulnerable neighborhoods,” said David Dorado Romo, a local historian who says the episode resurrected longstanding race and class divisions in the city.

“A modest lead”?  That’s a little too modest.  Actually, though O’Rourke started ahead of Cruz way back when, Cruz has led in every poll for the past month and his average margin over that time is 6.4%.

The sad truth is that this article is going to make an awful lot of small donors who, in aggregate, sent “Beto” O’Rourke millons and millions of dollars, feel like a bunch of fools who were played by a rich hypocrite.

As someone who is not at all in love with either candidate, I sympathize with them.  I’m sure their donations were sincere…and misplaced.

Win or lose, I wonder what “Beto” will do with his newfound wealth….other than add it to the prodigious pile of $$$ he’s already got access to.

As for the folks this project displaced?  Hey, just blame it on Trump.  Maybe they’ll believe it.  Y’know what I mean?

1 Comment

  • Good luck finding investors that will rebuild the dilapidated downtown and then rent/sell it to the same poor people that destroyed it in the first place.

    You can’t have it both ways.

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