Beto O’Rourke’s campaign to be the 2020 Democrat nominee for President is in a free fall. Once the darling of those on the left pining for a political reincarnation of Bobby Kennedy, it has become apparent to Democrat primary voters that the Texan is all hat, no cattle. His campaign is undergoing a re-boot and Beto 2.0 hired a heavy-hitter last week.
The campaign announced the hiring of Jeff Berman, a MVP (most valuable politico) , and Obama alumni. Berman’s job is to develop and execute a plan to get Beto enough DNC delegates to secure the party’s 2020 presidential nomination. Does Berman have enough juice to get that job done? It looks like we are about to find out.
O’Rourke’s campaign is in need of structure. His fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants approach to campaigning is not enough to compete on a national stage, something that is clearly a fact, given his sinking poll numbers. With such a large field of candidates, Beto’s alleged boyish charm just isn’t enough. It’s time for the professionals to take charge.
Berman is known for his success as Barack Obama’s delegate selection director in 2008 and as Hillary Clinton’s delegate strategist in 2016. We know both of those delegate fights at their respective Democrat National Conventions were brutal. O’Rourke’s campaign lost two strategists, veterans of his Senate campaign, earlier this year. In March, when Beto officially jumped into the race, he hired Jen O’Malley Dillon, a former Obama aide as his campaign manager. She is the one who brought Berman on board.
Jen O’Malley Dillon, O’Rourke’s campaign manager, said in a statement that Berman was “one of the first people I reached out to when I came on board because delegate strategy is so critical to our overall strategy.”
It’s just common sense, right? In order to win the nomination, Beto (any candidate, for that matter) has to have the commitment of enough DNC convention delegates. So, why not go to the guy with the proven track record? Berman must have fallen for the campaign’s pitch because he signed on. The campaign has also recently hired other professionals.
But in addition to hiring Berman and O’Malley Dillon, O’Rourke has been bringing aboard key staff in some significant early-nominating states, including Norm Sterzenbach in Iowa. Rob Flaherty, the former creative director at the progressive super PAC Priorities USA and deputy digital communications director for Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, is joining O’Rourke, as well.
Beto 2.0 is about to get underway and look more like a traditional presidential campaign. He is set to appear on the usual liberal-friendly television shows – The View and The Rachel Maddow Show as well as presenting real policy plans, not just relying on standard Democrat talking points to garner applause at rallies. So far, the only issue he’s tackled somewhat in depth is climate change. That certainly doesn’t set him apart from the other candidates. They all pay lip service to that issue, with some candidates running almost solely on it. Bernie Sanders is even teaming up with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to rally in support of the Green New Deal this week in Washington, D.C.
As I write this on Monday morning, Beto has 4.4% support in the national ranking at Real Clear Politics. Looking at the earliest of state contests, both Iowa and New Hampshire, he comes in 6th place. He has 5.3% support in Iowa and 2.5% in New Hampshire. The task for the new hires with his campaign will be to get Beto back into the top tier. His team denies the campaign is doing a re-boot while acknowledging its troubles with the structural organization.
His top aides deny that a full reinvention or “Beto 2.0” is in the works. They note that O’Rourke plans to keep packing days with as many as half a dozen campaign events. He’ll still venture into off-the-beaten-path locales that include rural, heavily Republican areas. Those were the trademarks of his Senate campaign last fall, when he nearly toppled Republican Sen. Ted Cruz by visiting all of deep-red Texas’ 254 counties.
But his team also acknowledges that for all its excitement, O’Rourke’s initial campaign launch exposed some disorganization. Assembling a campaign staff while the 2020 roadshow was already rollicking along simply wasn’t sustainable.
C’mon. We knew that skateboard would only take Beto so far outside of Texas. The Betomaniacs in Austin and Houston love the skateboard act but regular Americans expect more from a presidential candidate. He had a good launch and raised a lot of money in the first days of his national campaign but then people began to realize that he’s an empty suit, at least so far. He also flip-flops according to whatever way the political winds blow. The latest evidence of that is his pledge to not take money from fossil fuel companies (oil and gas) yet his previous campaigns gladly took their money. Another example is the border fence. He voted in favor of funding it as a member of the House of Representatives and now wants to tear it down. That was then, this is now. We’ll see how the new team works out for him.