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Why not both?

RG Ratcliffe argues that Beto doesn’t need to choose between running for President and running for Senate.

Rep. Beto O’Rourke

Why doesn’t Beto run for both the presidency AND the U.S. Senate?

Beto could do it under a provision known as the LBJ Law. (Sec. 141.033 of the Texas Election Code for the Legal Eagles amongst you.) The law was passed to give then-U.S. Senator Lyndon Johnson the opportunity to run for re-election at the same time he ran for the presidency in 1960. Had the Texas Legislature not enacted the law, LBJ would have had to choose to run for one office or the other since in Texas a person is only allowed to run for one office at a time. But the LBJ Law makes an exception if the second office being sought is president or vice president. LBJ lost the top race to John F. Kennedy, but won re-election to the Senate, a job he gave up for the vice presidency. Democratic U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen used the provision to seek re-election while running as Michael Dukakis’s running mate in 1988. The fact Dukakis only received 43 percent of the Texas vote in his unsuccessful presidential run did not stop Bentsen from raking in 59 percent of the state vote for his Senate re-election. Republican U.S. Senator Phil Gramm used the provision in 1996, and it allowed him to win re-election even though his presidential ambitions flamed out in Iowa in February.

A dual run like the one Gramm made would give Beto the chance to seek the top prize as he remains viable as a candidate for Senate from Texas. If Beto won the Democratic presidential nomination, he’d become a two-pronged threat to President Trump or whomever the Republicans nominate. If he lost in Iowa or New Hampshire to any of the array of Democrats running for president, Beto could come home to concentrate on challenging Cornyn.

See here for the background. Honestly, just asking the question is enough to answer it, and the answer is “because that doesn’t make any sense”. I think we can all agree that the Texas of 1988, which allowed Lloyd Bentsen to coast to re-election while co-starring for Mike Dukakis, doesn’t exist any more, and Phil Gramm was barely a memory as a (truly lousy) Presidential candidate by the time November of 1996 rolled around. (I’d completely forgotten that he’d been in that race.) There’s no way Beto could spend enough time in Texas as a Presidential candidate to satisfy the voters here, and anything remotely like his 2018 campaign would mean he’s neglecting pick-you-favorite-swing-state. If he could mail in a Senate campaign and still win that would be one thing, but that ain’t happening. Nice idea, but this is very much an either-or situation.

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2 Comments

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Even if running for two offices at the same time is legal, it smacks of desperation to me, like Adrian Garcia running for any and every public office that comes up until he finally wins himself a job.

    Having said that, I don’t think that will hurt him with the people in Texas who voted for him for Senate already. He’s got a cult of personality going for him. Can he beat Cornyn? I think it’s very possible, based on demographic changes continuing.

    I guess we will see if the suburban women who found Cruz unlikable personally, and voted feelings over policy will also reject Cornyn, who doesn’t have that stiff, unapproachable feel that Cruz has.

  2. Mainstream says:

    Sen. Cornyn has a sense of gravitas, a seriousness in doing his job, promoting legislation, and I do not think he will see the level of abandonment that Sen. Cruz had from suburban college-educated women. On the other hand, the 2020 presidential turnout will be a different pool of voters, and GOP voters continue to age out and are being replaced by younger, more diverse voters. I would predict, at this early juncture, a Cornyn victory over Beto.