“With eyes clear but certainly not starry, we enthusiastically endorse Beto O’Rourke for U.S. Senate,” wrote the Chronicle. “Despite the long odds he faces – pollster nonpareil Nate Silver gives O’Rourke a 20 percent chance of winning – a ‘Beto’ victory would be good for Texas, not only because of his skills, both personal and political, but also because of the manifest inadequacies of the man he would replace.”
The Houston Chronicle is not a liberal publication. Not only did they endorse Cruz in his original bid for the Senate, but they have a long history of Republican endorsements. Endorsements like Obama in 2008 or Clinton in 2016 are very much exceptions to the rule. The paper also endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012.
But the Chronicle, in their endorsement of O’Rourke, blasted the Senator they backed in 2012, calling him a Senator from Texas “in name only.”
“Exhibiting little interest in addressing the needs of his fellow Texans during his six years in office, he has kept his eyes on a higher prize,” the Chronicle‘s editorial board wrote. He’s been running for president since he took the oath of office — more likely since he picked up his class schedule as a 15-year-old ninth-grader at Houston’s Second Baptist High School more than three decades ago.”
“For Cruz, public office is a private quest; the needs of his constituents are secondary.”
They also quoted former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) as calling Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh” and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) saying that if Cruz was killed on the Senate floor and the Senate held the trial, no one would be convicted.
Ted Cruz isn’t exactly well-liked, with a near-even split of 42 percent disfavoring him and 40 percent favoring him as of February. The strength of those convictions is another issue — 31 percent strongly disfavor him, as opposed to only 21 percent strongly supporting him.
And this has shown up in the race against O’Rourke. Cruz has employed some underhanded campaign tactics that show the desperation of the fight he’s in. O’Rourke is polling remarkably well for a Democrat in a state that’s only elected Republicans to the Senate since the Berlin Wall fell.
And while their dissatisfaction-nearing-disdain for Cruz was the thrust of their argument, the Chronicle did praise O’Rourke as well. They pointed to his determined work to assist veterans, his strong stances supporting global trade and the idea that O’Rourke needs to be a Senator to protect the republic from Donald Trump.
“While he may look like the second coming of Bobby Kennedy to D.C. pundits,” said Texas Southern University’s John Ayer, “Texans can see that O’Rourke has more in common with the politics and approach of former Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby, who advocated for modernizing Texas through bipartisan cooperation during his time leading the Texas Senate.”
Ayer also compared O’Rourke to Lloyd Bentsen, the last Democrat Texas voters sent to the Senate.
“While the bloviations emanate from the arena next week, imagine how refreshing it would be to have a U.S. senator who not only knows the issues but respects the opposition, who takes firm positions but reaches out to those who disagree, who expects to make government work for Texas and the nation,” wrote the Chronicle.
They concluded; “Beto O’Rourke, we believe, is that senator.”
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.