Beto O’Rourke will run for the Senate, because with Trump and all, `How could you not.’

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Good morning Austin:

Beto O’Rourke is running for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Ted Cruz.

While the three-term Democratic congressman from El Paso has not formally announced his candidacy for the 2018 Senate race, there doesn’t seem to be anything that would stop him from running.

As he told about 120 University Democrats at their weekly gathering in the Pharmacy Building at the University of Texas last night:

One of the things I’m thinking about is running for Senate to 2018, in part because, how could you not, given everything that’s going on in this country.

Besides that, if we are able to effectively represent what’s exciting and the potential in this room, what’s possible for Texas, that fundamentally changes what’s possible in this country.

We are going to have outsized, as we should, impact on where this country goes. We are going to change forever the stereotype Texas holds in the imagination of the United States and I don’t have to tell you, it’s not always positive. There are a lot of aspects which we can be proud of, absolutely, but there is a lot of diversity, creativity, innovation and difference that makes us so special, so powerful, so strong that I would like to, just as a Texas citizen, like to see represented in the Senate and on the national stage.

O’Rourke is already effectively running for the job:

The last 10 weeks I have been essentially touring Texas, going to every town that will have me. I was in Killeen and College Station and Waco and Houston last weekend. I got on an airplane at 5:20 this morning to fly to Charlotte, N.C., to come here. Everywhere I go I am so inspired by what’s happening in rooms like these all over the country.

For me, and I don’t know about everyone in the room, these last two months have been pretty dark in terms of the decision that this country made and where we are going already in the first few weeks of this presidency.

Whether it’s humiliating our southern neighbor, talking about a 20 percent tax on everything they produce or building a 2,000-mile wall to separate the two countries or telling the president of Mexico not to bother showing up if he is not going to pay for said wall; whether it’s talking about NATO being obsolete, or trying to humble the prime minister of Australia on the telephone, or banning refugees from coming into this country, or setting a religious test for those who do, or selecting seven countries with a Muslim majority, none of which had a hand or person involved in 9/11, and barring entry from those countries, including temporarily green card holders, these are dark days.

But they are also the days on which we will be judged down the road.  People will want to know what you and I were doing in February 2017. “Dad, where were you?'” “Grandma did you say anything, did you stand up or did you let this happen?”

Rooms like these and marches I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in, there are people standing up and saying what they don’t want. “I don’t want a wall. I don’t want a Muslim ban. I don’t want this fear and anxiety and hatred to drive everything that this country’s doing.” It feels very small. It feels very wrong. It doesn’t feel like the United States of America.

But I also find people very positively and powerfully talking about not just what they don’t want to see, but what they are excited about, what they have in store for their future, what their aspirations are.

The two things – what we will not stand for and what we will stand up to achieve, these two things happening at the same time.

It’s my hope this darkest hour is our finest hour.

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O’Rourke combines an easy energy with great ambition. The oldest of his three children is named Ulysses, which is not a name lightly assigned (I wanted to name my daughter Ulysses, but my wife vetoed that).

Cruz remains a heavy favorite but Democrats have to mount a very serious campaign, the Trump presidency does complicate Cruz’s story, and O’Rourke, were he to be Cruz’s challenger, would have all the money and attention he would need.

Also, he has already said he would not serve more than four terms in the House, so 2018 would be his last run for that seat in any case, and fighting Trump as one of a 100 in the Senate has a lot more potential than being a member of the minority party in the House.

As he said last night:

2018. It’s got to be about 2018. 

Here is the best argument nationally for a Democratic senator from the state of Texas. You have 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats. The second biggest pickup opportunity for Democrats throughout the country to pick up a Senate seat in 2018 is in Texas.

One, it shows you how bad our hand is nationally, but two, it shows you some very encouraging trends.

Hillary Clinton spent a grand total of $220,000, which is like 15 cents, in the state of Texas in 2016, and only lost by 9 points, which is the slimmest margin for a Democratic presidential candidate in forever. Harris County going blue and going blue big. El Paso, Texas, 56 percent higher turnout 2016 over 2012. Dallas County, Pete Sessions, hardcore Republican, his district goes for Hillary Clinton, Will Hurd’s district goes for Hillary Clinton. John Culberson, Republican, (his district) goes for Hillary Clinton.

My feeling is, who’s Beto O’Rourke from El Paso, Texas, to think about running for Senate? Well, the thing is, if no one else is going to do it, I sure as hell am going to do it because, 2018, two years of Trump, six years of Cruz … if we don’t do this now, when the hell are we going to do it. But it’s got to end in some kind of victory because otherwise, what are we here for?

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When you hear someone speaking in their own voice you automatically pay attention. Watching Donald Trump press conferences, you couldn’t take your eyes off of it. Who talks like that? Who says this kind of stuff? But it’s compelling, it’s entertaining, it gets our attention.

Bernie Sanders, speaking his mind, the courage of his convictions. There’s no questioning what he thinks.

Hillary Clinton, terrific public servant, deeply flawed candidate, in that it was very hard for many people in the country to believe that what she was saying was what she actually felt. There was a credibility gap with her.

O’Rourke talked about Trump’s election and his decision to attend Trump’s inauguration.

I’ve had to get it into my head that if you voted for Donald Trump it isn’t that you’re a bad person, it isn’t that you hate us, it’s just that this stuff has been driven into your head for decades in some cases, this fear of people that are not like the majority of America, and that starts in Mexico.

So, I think when we protest, when we’re engaged, when we’re talking to other people, we do it as respectfully as possible.

You know I took some heat and some flak and there may be some folks who think differently it the room, I went to he inauguration of Donald Trump and I went out of profound respect for our institutions, for this country that we can still pull this shit off  230 years later.

The man who spent eight years pursuing at the popular will of the American public a direction for this country was willing to peacefully transfer power to the man who promises to upend and destroy his work. The fact that we can still do that is awesome and we should respect it and not trifle with it.

I also thought it was important to say to those people in this country who supported Donald Trump, `Look, I respect the choice that you made, I want to work with you out of respect, but I also want to, in that spirit of respect, help you understand it from our perspective.’

O’Rourke talked about his recent TED talk.

You go back to 1913, El Paso becomes the first city in the United States to criminalize marijuana, because Mexicans, when they smoke marijuana, rape white people, they kill white people, literally, that was the common understanding. And you see marijuana criminalized throughout the Mountain West, as Mexican-Americans, as Mexican national labor moved up through the Mountain West, until by 1934 this Mexican problem was a big enough problem in connection with marijuana that we criminalize it nationally.

There are lots of stories like this where our fear of people whose culture and languages and backgrounds and histories are a little bit different from the majority of America, we criminalize them or the things that are associated with them. It’s kind of a long, dark history but one whose end I think we get to write the final chapter, and I think it’s going to be a positive final chapter.

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For the last year, I have seen that city (El Paso) actively shat upon on the national stage. Mexicans with whom we’re connected are here to rape us, to kill us, to commit crimes, to take what’s ours. That we are not safe.

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A few years back, when we were talking about Dreamers, these Dreamers, 700,000 registered with the government, 200,000 here in Texas, voluntarily, because we asked them to –  gave us their names, their telephone numbers, where they live because they were offered deferment  from prosecution or removal. They could be here, they could attend school, they could go to UT, they could serve in the military, they could have their families here, start careers.

They came forward under that understanding. Now the government under a different president has the power to, because we know where they live, what their phone numbers are, we have the power to round all them up and deport them and the president has pledged to end all the executive actions in DACA and pledged to deport 3 million immediately unauthorized, undocumented immigrants.

So when we were talking about Dreamers, when Dreamers first became a thing, people were acknowledging these were people who came when they were 2-years-old and they are just as American as anybody else. (U.S. Rep.) Steve King of Iowa said these student government presidents you are talking about, these soccer team captains, look at the size of their calves, they are the size of cantaloupes because they have been trucking drugs on their backs across the border, to put them in your kids’ system, your beautiful, innocent American kids, being corrupted by these Mexican thugs.

From Steve King:

For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another hundred out there who weigh a hundred and thirty pounds—and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling seventy-five pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.

King was also Cruz’s most important supporter in Iowa, where he won the caucuses, defeating Trump.

King explains here that he was backing Cruz because the future of Western Civilization was on the line.

O’Rourke:

So that guy (King)  said that and many other people have been saying things like that for a long time. This is unfortunately the natural conclusion, I hope that is the natural conclusion and there is not a step worse than this one, from what we’ve seen.

No longer will I take, no longer will we take that, no longer will either politely respond or correct the record, or in my case stand in the well of the House and make great speeches about El Paso.

What we are going to do so this never happens again, so we do something that’s far better and brighter and bolder and stronger for our country – we need to run for higher office, we need to support those in this room who are going to run for office. We need to connect people in different communities, who want to make this a better state and a better country, and that for me is my full-time job going forward, in addition to trying to be a good dad to Ulysses and Molly and Henry and a good husband to Amy and a representative to the people of the 16th District, I am going to make it a full-time job to do everything I can to make sure the country gets back on the right course.

This presidential election was won on fear. What are you afraid of? Who’s going to keep you safe? This is like one of these classic moments in civilization. Is that going to win? Because it has won before. Or is there going to be some stronger force?

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