Every once in a while a politician comes along who captures the imagination of voters in such a way that everyone knows from that moment on that he or she is clearly bound for greater things.
I'm sure you all recall a certain night back in 2004 when a young first-time Senate candidate from Chicago electrified the Democratic convention --- and four years later went on to capture the White House. From the beginning, it was clear that Barack Obama had that "x-factor" that makes a politician embody the hopes and dreams of his followers.
This year there are dozens of stories of progressive candidates inspiring voters all over the country, motivating average folks to get off their couches and volunteer, call, canvass and donate. But there is one who has assumed the spotlight in a way that has the whole country paying attention. That would be Congressman Beto O'Rourke of Texas who is giving the odious Ted Cruz a run for his money.
And when I say "a run for his money," I mean big, TEXAS-BIG money.
Beto's campaign reported that they set a new record in US Senate races, raising 38.1 million dollars in the last three months. The GOP won't say this, but 60% of it came from small Texas donors, the rest from progressives around the country. This is widely being reported as "more than Jeb Bush raised for his presidential campaign" which you'll recall was considered a record haul at the time. Cruz brought in 12 million, most of it from desperate big donors worried about losing their gravy train if the Senate turns blue.
Money doesn't mean a win, of course. But it certainly doesn't hurt. And the reason Beto has been so successful at raising money and generating enthusiasm is because he has been running a strong progressive values-based campaign. He's from a red state but he doesn't run from the controversies or calculate how to split the difference in the culture war:
"Non-violently, peacefully, while the eyes of this country are watching these games, they take a knee to bring our attention and our focus to this problem to ensure that we fix it, that is why they are doing it. And I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights, any time, anywhere, in any place."
His explanation of why he supports the NFL players taking a knee went viral because millions of people are yearning to look to the future again instead of wallowing in nostalgia for a past that never was.
He makes unabashedly traditional American arguments about fairness, equality, and justice which evoke a kind of patriotism that a lot of people, even some conservatives, would like to be able to feel again.
They certainly haven't been hearing it from Republicans.
Beto O'Rourke has proven to be a leader of the future, a progressive with a skilled way of preaching beyond the choir. Regardless of the outcome of this Texas Senate race, he's become a bonafide "New Voice of the Democratic Party."
He's also been a Blue America leader since his first congressional race and we've been proud to support him all along the way. Today, however, we are not going to ask you to donate to his campaign. He's obviously got enough money to carry him through!
We are, instead, going to ask you to give to the other, truly excellent progressive candidates in Texas-- who will partner with Beto to lead a truly progressive delegation to Washington.
We're confident that the excitement and energy surrounding Beto's Texas Senate campaign will greatly benefit the true progressives all the way down the ticket-- because, that's what exciting progressives candidates at the top of a ticket do. Let's 'make it so' in Texas!
So, a reminder: There are just 24 More Days until MIDTERMS! If you can, please contribute to Take Back Texas, and Turn Texas Blue!
Thanks for always doing what you can to make this a better world,
Heather "Digby" Parton, for the entire Blue America team