Here’s a conspiracy theory I think should get more traction: Beto O’Rourke is a secret Republican designed to soak up money and attention from other Democrats with a better chance of winning.
Direct evidence for this is lacking, but the circumstantial case is totally sound. When he was defeated in a challenge to incumbent Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, the race was the most expensive senatorial race in U.S. history, clocking in at over $110 million. Beto raised the lion’s share of this — $80.3 million to Cruz’s $38.9 million — but still lost.
At the time, his refusal to share his massive war chest with other Democrats in closer races was a bone of contention with some commentators, particularly given the difficulty of picking up a seat in the Lone Star State.
He was a “rock star” candidate, though, so the loss enabled him to jump into the field of 2020 Democratic presidential contenders. He quickly rose to the top tier of hopeful nominees with a flurry of fundraising. Then, he actually had to campaign, which appeared to be tough for him. He apologized for his white privilege to anyone who would listen. He tried rebooting himself as a gun control fanatic. And he ended up dropping out months before the first vote was cast.
Now, Beto has announced his third major candidacy in four years — this time, as the Democratic challenger to Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott in 2022. There’s one little problem, however: He wants to seek office in gun-loving Texas after famously declaring, on a debate stage during the presidential campaign, that “hell yes,” he planned to take the rifles of law-abiding gun owners.
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” O’Rourke said during a debate two years ago. “We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore.”
Beto O’Rourke/Dana Bash CNN
“Is that what you would still do as Governor of Texas?”
Dana replays Beto’s “Hell yes!” quote and Beto turns the question back to Abbott and permitless carry-
“We don’t want EXTREMISM in our gun laws. WE WANT TO PROTECT THE 2nd AMENDMENT” pic.twitter.com/wK3lyshhKX
— BetoMedia (@BetoMedia) November 21, 2021
On Sunday, O’Rourke was given the chance to backpedal from that declamation. He refused, opting instead to continue the self-sabotage.
“Look, we are a state that has a long, proud tradition of responsible gun ownership, and most of us here in Texas do not want to see our friends, our family members, our neighbors shot up with these weapons of war,” O’Rourke told host Dana Bash.
“So yes, I still hold this view.”
“But I also have been listening to my fellow Texans who are concerned about this idea of permit-less carry that Greg Abbott has signed into law, which allows any Texan to carry a loaded firearm, despite the pleadings of police chiefs and law enforcement from across the state who said it would make their jobs more dangerous and make it harder for them to protect those that they were sworn to serve in their communities,” he continued.
“We don’t want extremism in our gun laws,” O’Rourke said. “We want to protect the Second Amendment; we want to protect the lives of our fellow Texans. And I know that when we come together and stop this divisive extremism that we see from Greg Abbott right now, we’re going to be able to do that.”
This comes after O’Rourke decried the Friday acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, a teen who shot three people with his AR-15, killing two, after he was chased by a mob during riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year.
According to the Dallas Morning News, O’Rourke said it set “a very dangerous precedent that a young man … could carry a weapon originally designed for battlefield use out on the streets of a community and can shoot a number of people killing, two of them, and be able to get off completely scot-free.”
Do you know who seems to be happiest to echo O’Rourke’s own rhetoric on guns? The man he’s running against.
Beto O’Rourke struggles to outline specifics on proposed mandatory gun buyback.
He’s probably the only candidate for Governor in Texas history who campaigned on taking your guns.
I won’t let him do it.
I will continue protecting 2nd Amendment rights. https://t.co/93Wjca3AB4
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) November 16, 2021
Robert Francis O’Rourke thinks it is ‘dangerous’ for you to have a gun to defend yourself.
Texans know that self-defense is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution.
We won’t let dangerous progressive policies hijack your God-given rights. https://t.co/BY3vxKQ0Ze
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) November 20, 2021
These kinds of attacks don’t have Abbott back on his heels. He’s not freaking out that Beto is doubling down on his trite “weapons of war” rhetoric and using it as a pretext for gun-grabbing and eroding self-defense rights. This is nothing but campaign fodder for the GOP. Beto is a walking advertisement for Gov. Abbott — and somehow, there’s something so irresistible about him to Democrat donors.
Some liberals, I fear, might be catching on. Washington Post opinion writer Paul Waldman, in a Nov. 15 piece titled “Beto O’Rourke doesn’t need your money,” besought his readers not to send the gubernatorial candidate their donations.
“In July, when no one knew whether Abbott would face any Democratic opposition, he already had $55 million in the bank for this campaign. Presuming O’Rourke becomes the Democratic nominee, it would be a surprise if these candidates didn’t raise and spend $200 million each by the time this race is over, which would make it the most expensive nonpresidential campaign in U.S. political history,” Waldman pointed out.
“Don’t get me wrong, I like O’Rourke. I’d be only too happy to see him become governor of Texas,” he wrote.
“But this will be a hugely consequential election, and there’s a good chance Democratic donors will make the same mistake they’ve made in the past: Sending ungodly amounts of money to high-profile, long-shot candidates while ignoring races where those funds could make the difference between victory and defeat.”
If history is any judge, however, Waldman won’t disabuse donors from sending their cash O’Rourke’s way. Hell yes, Beto will lose. And hell yes, he’ll soak up a whole lot of money doing it.
Which is why I promise you, Beto — if you’re reading this and you really are an undercover conservative — it’ll be the last time I write about this pet theory of mine. From here on in, your secret’s safe with me. I won’t tell if you don’t.
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