June 17, 2022
For Immediate Release
ICYMI: NEWSWEEK: BETO CAMPAIGN IN DISARRAY
“It’s an ugly year and a doomed campaign.” – Democratic veteran of multiple presidential and Texas campaigns on O’Rourke campaign
Beto Latino Outreach ‘Disappointing,’ While Abbott Won’t Be ‘Outspent’
By Adrian Carrasquillo
June 16, 2022
When Beto O’Rourke launched his uphill campaign for governor against Greg Abbott in November, his campaign and allies used the shortcomings with Latino voters in his 2018 senate campaign against Ted Cruz to help explain how 2022 would be different.
His senate campaign grew too big, too quickly, they said, surprising even Beto himself.
As a result they didn’t do a good enough job reaching Hispanics, who comprised 30% of eligible voters in the state in 2018, and instead focused primarily on white voters. There also wasn’t enough literature in Spanish for voters, and the campaign could have done better with Latinos on virtually every metric, they said.
The 2022 midterm cycle was supposed to be different for O’Rourke — but so far it appears to be more of the same.
Those concerns are not coming from the activists and volunteers who always push campaigns to do more in their communities, but from within the campaign itself.
Two O’Rourke campaign sources described the Latino voter outreach as disappointing, saying it was falling “below expectations,” calling it a “bad idea” to wait to run ads while letting Republicans and Abbott allies define O’Rourke on Spanish-language TV.
Still, while multiple sources said O’Rourke has launched bilingual programs and is making coalition hires, the campaign would not provide specifics when asked about the shape of the outreach and financial investment aimed at Latino voters
In private conversations, O’Rourke supporters, including voters at rallies and super-volunteers doing the unsung, nitty gritty work that winning campaigns need, plead that O’Rourke needs to counter Republicans running Spanish-language TV and radio ads with a “God, family, and country” message.
“Everybody who has a mouth is telling us we need ads in Spanish,” one O’Rourke aide told Newsweek. “Republicans have been doing big and little media buys, from Univision during novelas, to teeny tiny AM stations in the barrio.”
The “God, family, and country” ads that every South Texas Democrat told Newsweek they’ve seen do resonate with Latinos, according to a post-2020 election report by progressive group Cambio Texas that focused on the Rio Grande Valley (RGV).
O’Rourke campaign volunteers have also complained that they can’t get enough BETO lawn signs for everyone that wants them, which provokes eyerolls from some political operatives, while others who spoke with Newsweek said they used to be sign skeptics but have come around on their importance.
In some ways, lawn signs are like football jerseys, helping the grassroots army O’Rourke prioritizes over ads and polling feel connected to the campaign team.
“I was anti-signs, but you can see the psychological effect on the electorate,” said Abel Prado, the executive director of Cambio Texas, who partnered with O’Rourke’s group Powered by People for a $100,000 field program to help bring out voters in the RGV. “It’s one of the best ways to make your voters feel included.”
Multiple sources inside and outside the campaign agreed that complaints about things like signs are really about ineffective communication between the campaign and the grassroots supporters it values.
“I don’t like that people are whining about signs,” the first campaign aide added. “I also know my gente and they like to see their colors, they like representing.”
A Democratic veteran of multiple presidential and Texas campaigns zeroed in on O’Rourke’s lack of TV ads in general, including Spanish-language ads, with a gloomy assessment of his prospects.
“It’s an ugly year and a doomed campaign,” the source said.
“They do not believe in TV advertising, no matter how low-information most Hispanic voters are, and no matter how much they over-index on media consumption,” they added.