As Republican Sen. Ted Cruz cements his lead over Rep. Beto O’Rourke in a highly publicized Texas Senate race, the Democratic underdog made a bold gamble by declaring that he would not have voted to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Speaking to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, O’Rourke said that he doesn’t support Kavanaugh’s positions on voting and civil rights.
Hedging his bets
“I would not have,” the Senate candidate said when asked if he would have voted to confirm the conservative justice. “We’re 50th in the country, as you said, in voter turnout, by design, on purpose, some people not intended to vote. We need a Supreme Court justice who believes in voting rights. In a state where you can be fired for being gay, a Supreme Court justice who believes in civil rights.”
Following the party line, O’Rourke also insisted that he opposed Kavanaugh because he “believes in a woman’s right to make her own decision about her own body and have access to the healthcare that ensures that she can.” Many Democrats fear that Kavanaugh could help overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case which legalized abortion.
O’Rourke shied away from bringing up the sexual misconduct allegations Kavanaugh faced prior to his confirmation, and for good reason. Unlike the Supreme Court justice, O’Rourke has an extensive criminal past that can actually be corroborated by law enforcement, and he has no desire to see his felony record become the subject of media reporting.
During the early morning hours of Sept. 27, 1998, a 26-year-old O’Rourke crashed into a truck after speeding down an interstate in El Paso, Texas. A young O’Rourke was apprehended trying to flee the scene of the accident, and a breath test subsequently indicated that his blood-alcohol level was well above the legal limit.
Three years earlier, Beto was caught trying to burglarize a campus building at the University of Texas-El Paso. He told police that the break-in amounted to nothing more than a harmless college prank, though O’Rourke wasn’t even in college at the time.
While O’Rourke’s late father, a powerful El Paso judge with deep political connections, may have played a role in keeping his son out of court and expunging these offenses, he wasn’t around to bail him out when, as a first-term lawmaker in 2012, O’Rourke broke the law by purchasing initial public offerings of Twitter before quickly selling them off for profit. The rookie legislator only returned his profits to the Treasury Department and apologized after a congressional news outlet caught wind of the illegal transaction.
Just a month shy of midterm elections, a Quinnipiac University Poll gives Cruz a 9 point advantage over his Democratic opponent. However, Quinnipiac gave Cruz the same advantage last month when a Reuters/Ipsos poll published the very next day put Cruz’s lead at just 2 points, leading pundits and strategists to declare the race too close to call.
However, the latest survey results suggesting a strong Republican advantage has led some pollsters to wonder if the O’Rourke campaign has run out of steam. “Is the Beto bubble bursting or just hissing away with a slow leak? … Beto O’Rourke has hit a wall,” surmised Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “The election is far from over, but Sen. Cruz would have to suffer a major collapse for him to lose.”
For O’Rourke to survive, he may be depending upon an enthusiasm gap between Democrat and Republican voters. By coming out in opposition to the Kavanaugh nomination, O’Rourke is hedging his bets that he can convince Democrats to show up at polling places in an effort to reverse the nomination and oppose the Trump agenda.
However, O’Rourke’s ploy make backfire. He is, after all, seeking to defeat a heavily-favored Republican in a firm red state. The bottom line: the odds are against a Democratic insurgency in Texas, and O’Rourke may have picked the wrong issue around which to unite his base.