Beto O’Rourke’s campaign mirrors failed gubernatorial race – The Gilmer Mirror

By Patrick Svitek, The Texas Tribune

“Beto O’Rourke’s campaign mirrors failed gubernatorial race” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that educates Texans — and engages with them – on public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.

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Leaders of Beto O’Rourke’s gubernatorial campaign generally defended their strategy on Monday, saying they made a valiant effort despite a formidable incumbent and national headwinds. At the same time, they said they were reviewing a series of decisions they made on the way to an 11 percentage point loss to Gov. Greg Abbott.

“When the margin is what it is, you’re not a silver bullet away from winning,” O’Rourke’s deputy campaign manager Jason Lee said on a post-war conference call on Monday. election with journalists. “There are a lot of things we’re going to have to look at across the board – investment, resource allocation, maybe even on the messaging side.”

Texas Democrats are introspective again after a statewide blowout. O’Rourke’s campaign team echoed some of the factors that have already been made public over the past week, such as turnout falling short of projections on both sides. Abbott’s campaign argued that she had a “better messenger and a stronger message”.

Lee praised Abbott for a “very disciplined, efficient and extremely well-funded” campaign, but noted that it was the smallest margin of victory Abbott had in his three gubernatorial campaigns, between other positives for the Democrats’ negative vote. For example, he said Democrats were able to minimize their losses in South Texas, which the GOP was aggressively targeting, and exit polls show Abbott did not win the Hispanic vote in all the state, which he had promised to do.

While O’Rourke ultimately outperformed Abbott, the governor still spent more, and Lee noted the odds were stacked against O’Rourke in “a year in which Democrats across the country faced weak Biden’s approval ratings, record inflation, instability on the southern border and the perception of a major rise in crime in our urban cores.

But Lee said the infrastructure O’Rourke has built for Democrats will pay dividends for years to come.

“The way states end up flipping…is that the party that’s not in power has to compete every cycle,” Lee said. “Even when the environment is unfavorable, we must make serious electoral efforts to ensure that we do not back down. Never let go of the rope.

Abbott’s campaign held its own morning media call after the election, saying O’Rourke struggled with upside-down approval ratings throughout the race – a product of his past campaigns – and that Abbott was more focused on the issues most important to voters. , such as economy and border.

“The fact is, the governor is better than Beto on the issues,” said Gardner Pate, Abbott’s campaign chairman.

On Monday’s call, Lee and O’Rourke’s director of communications, Chris Evans, expressed few regrets about the campaign strategy, particularly in reaching out to young voters and rural communities.

Although O’Rourke has been visiting college campuses and prioritizing youth voter registration, Lee said the campaign likely didn’t get the youth turnout it was hoping for, pending a final analysis. .

When it comes to rural Texas, O’Rourke regularly faces questions about whether it’s worth campaigning there given the sparse populations and heavily GOP voters.

“You can do multiple things at once,” Evans said. “You can host an event in the Panhandle while campaigning in Harris County. Very often we think we have to pick or choose.

O’Rourke campaign officials suggested they were considering how to respond to Abbott’s attacks on O’Rourke. When asked if there was anything they wished they had done differently, Evans suggested one area was to “respond more directly to attacks that come our way” while keeping the heat on Abbott.

Lee acknowledged that Abbott’s efforts to tie O’Rourke to an unpopular president had had some impact, especially when centered on an issue like inflation. But Lee said fighting these attacks is “not as simple as responding, because these are established narratives” that historically favor Republicans.

“It’s very difficult to change an established narrative in the middle of an election cycle, especially when you’re overspent,” Lee said.

At this point, Lee said Abbott “did a really good job of focusing people’s attention on the issues where they had an advantage.” He also said Abbott had “very effectively” used his office’s power to attract massive media attention, pointing to Abbott’s busing of migrants to Democratic-run cities. And Lee credited Abbott’s campaign for targeting mainstream Democratic voters with negative information, potentially lowering party turnout.

Going forward, Lee said Democrats need to start campaigning sooner and build a “much stronger coordinated platform across the state.” While he and Evans said they expected O’Rourke to stay politically involved, Lee noted that Democrats “can’t count on someone like that every time.”

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