It’s been 97 days since the pair of Texas Democratic presidential candidates went toe-to-toe in the first 2020 primary debate. At that juncture, Beto O’Rourke was in sixth place at 3.3 percent nationally — down from almost 10 percent upon his entry into the race — and only vaguely considered a viable alternative to the frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Julian Castro, on the other hand, has hovered around one percent (give or take a few tenths of a percent).
Right now, the pair are each below 2.5 percent in the RealClearPolitics averages, with O’Rourke at 2.2 and Castro at 1.4 percent respectively. Even businessman Andrew Yang has eclipsed the pair.
In Texas, O’Rourke has held a slight hold on second place for months — 10 points behind Biden and slightly ahead of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — until the recent Quinnipiac poll, which showed Warren had moved ahead of O’Rourke and put him in third place in his home state.
Meanwhile, while Castro is outperforming his national poll numbers in Texas, he has failed to hit higher than 4 percent in any Texas polls taken thus far.
And while poll numbers are one critical indicator, money also talks.
Through the first six months of this year, O’Rourke pulled in over $13.6 million to Castro’s $4.1 million. Just days ago, O’Rourke gave a bizarre fundraising pitch in which the former Senate candidate joked about threatening a kitten to try to solicit more donations before the end of the Q3 filing.
O’Rourke and Castro have not yet released their third-quarter hauls and have until October 15 to file them.
However, some leading presidential contenders have already released their Q3 numbers in a show of strength. Today, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced he had raised $25.3 million in the third quarter and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced he brought in $19.1 million.
Since his entry into the race, O’Rourke has “rebooted” his campaign twice (once in May and once in August). He floundered in rebuttal to Castro’s barbs in the first debate. And he has thrown caution to the wind with his “Hell yes we’re taking your AR-15,” something he vowed he’d never do when he was running for U.S. Senate last year.
His Texas counterpart, however, tried to make a splash early by calling for the decriminalization of illegal immigration. O’Rourke stated his opposition to such a proposal.
Throughout the campaign, both candidates have staked far-left positions on policy and embraced increasingly more brazen rhetoric.
For example, Castro and O’Rourke both endorsed their own versions of “Medicare for All,” with rhetorical caveats given toward maintaining some semblance of private insurance. Both are unabashedly pro-choice with Castro even stating in the first debate that abortion should extend to “trans-females” — biological males who say they are female, but lack uteruses.
Castro later said he misspoke.
As the primaries loom ever closer, the Texas duo is struggling to find a foothold and an identity among a seemingly endless number of candidates. O’Rourke was famously ridiculed by late-night host Jimmy Fallon in a manner akin to one of those “blow up wavy arm guys,” and Castro is routinely confused with his twin brother, who earlier this year doxxed private citizens in San Antonio for donating to President Trump.
As time and money increasingly become an issue, something is soon to give. And if there’s one thing for sure: there are “Miles and Miles of Texas” between the pair and the Democratic nomination.
Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.