Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke lost his third election on Tuesday night, failing to unseat incumbent Texas Gov. Greg Abbot (R). O'Rourke previously lost the Texas Senate election to Ted Cruz (R) in 2018, and the Democratic presidential nomination to Joe Biden in 2020. "He has been campaigning for 1,175 of the past 2,048 days," The Washington Post calculates, when it's all said and done.
So does this most recent failure mark the end of his political career?
Some observers certainly believe so. Fox News called O'Rourke "parody-worthy for Saturday Night Live over his perennial, lackluster runs for office." Mediaite's Caleb Howe quipped on Twitter, "Beto O'Rourke losing an election is one of those holiday season traditions that really makes you nostalgic."
Others say O'Rourke may now be a symbol of Democratic failure — a difficult association to come back from. "He has become the emblem of unrealized ambition in the Democratic Party," is how the Post puts it. Sharon Navarro, a political scientist at the University of Texas at San Antonio, agreed in The Texas Tribune: "With each new race he loses, it becomes more difficult to convince voters and persuade them that he can still win the next race." Dave Carney, the Republican strategist who advises Abbott, was even blunter when he spoke to Politico prior to Election Day: "If he loses again, that's it."
However, it might be too early to write O'Rourke off just yet. In 2018, despite his loss to Cruz, he helped Democrats pick up 12 seats in the Texas House and two seats in the Texas Senate, the Tribune points out. Indeed, as Caroline Downey writes in National Review, O'Rourke has something of a reputation as a "political hopeful who won't quit while he's behind," and he's received backing from influential Democratic leaders like former President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey.
Experts say O'Rourke could be well-positioned to become a political organizer or take a fundraising position, both of which he has proved to have prowess in, reports The Texas Tribune. But an immediate political future looks dimmer: "Coupled along with various changes that may be occurring or are occurring with our population, I could see a political path," Renee Cross, executive director of the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston, told the Tribune, "but probably not real soon."