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What Texas Dems Should Learn from Pennsylvania

Now that Matthew McConaughey has stepped aside.
December 2, 2021
Texas Will Be An Epic Fail For Dems | Not My Party

[Editor’s note: Watch Not My Party every week on Snapchat.]

Hoda Kotb: Actor Matthew McConaughey says he will not run for governor of Texas, despite flirting with the idea for several months.

Matthew McConaughey: The path that I’m choosing not to take at this moment.

Andie Anderson (Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days): Really?

Benjamin Barry (McConaughey): Yeah.

Anderson: Okay.

Tim Miller: This is Not My Party, brought to you by The Bulwark. For a decade now, Democrats have been dreaming of a blue Texas only to pile on loss after loss after loss.

Dave Wooderson (McConaughey in Dazed and Confused): It’s a bummer about your party, man.

Beto O’Rourke: Oh we do know this is [bleep]ed up.

Miller: In 2020, the fool’s gold struck again.

Rustin Cohle (McConaughey in True Detective): Time is a flat circle.

Miller: Trump took the state by a large margin, even gaining ground with Hispanics, particularly those living near the border. Next year, there’s a governor’s race, but with Republican incumbent Greg Abbott’s approval dipping, Dems can’t help but psych themselves up again.

Craig Gregory (Jason Bateman in Up in the Air): This is our moment.

Miller: The Dems figure that extremism coming from the Cancun-flying, election-stealing, abortion-bountying Republicans—

Rachel Maddow: It turns every anti-abortion zealot into a bounty hunter.

Miller: —is providing an opening for an upset. And they might be right. But will they pick a candidate who can actually win deep in the heart of Texas?

Hank (stilted): Uh, yes, we are going to do it.

Miller: First to the plate was the broody progressive, Beto O’Rourke. Now full disclosure here, I’d [bleep] Beto and all his soft-boy tendencies.

Beto O’Rourke: I’m so [bleep]ing proud of you guys.

Miller: After Beto was unsuccessful in winning Ted Cruz’s Senate seat, he went on a soul-searching drive through middle America. He met with regular folks, scribbled entries into his diary, and everyone made fun of him for it.

Dwight Schrute: What a loser.

Miller: But I kinda loved it.

Mildly disturbing sweet little CGI animation of Beto O’Rourke (Miller): A lot of big trucks rolling down Pancake Blvd and there aren’t any sidewalks. . . . Snow melt on the side of the road where I’m running. . . . The sleet stinging my face, I wondered if the winds had changed too.

Miller: All right, Beto.

McConaughey: All right, all right, all right.

Miller: Okay, but here’s the deal, after the 2018 hype train, blog boss Beto decided to run for president and from there things started to go south. He said [bleep] like this—

O’Rourke: Hell yes, we’re gonna take your AR-15, your AK-47.

Miller: —and this—

O’Rourke: But I’ll also sign into law . . . Sheila Jackson Lee’s reparations bill.

Diane Nguyen (from Bojack Horseman): That’s . . . gonna be a real problem.

Miller: So now he’s back running for governor, but the political sleet stinging his face now seems more like Texas-size hail in a state that Trump won by six points. And I just don’t see how he does it. He’s simply too progressive and soft-boy and partisan. And I think Republican voters have tuned him out.

McConaughey: For good reason.

Stan Pines (from Gravity Falls): It’s not looking good.

Miller: As crazy as it sounds, Matthew McConaughey might’ve been a better option and given Democrats a puncher’s chance. But in dropping out, he left some good advice for the party.

McConaughey: We need more trust in our lives. We got to start shining a light on our shared values, the ones that cross party lines, the ones that build bridges instead of burn ’em.

Miller: If Democrats are gonna actually win Texas, they’ll need a candidate who can convince Trump voters they legitimately care about them. Someone who listens to their concerns.

Chandler Bing: If it’s important to you then it’s important to me.

Miller: McConaughey might not have made the best governor, but he’d have had a better chance at making that case to voters than Beto. But you don’t need a celebrity superstar to do that.

John Kimble (Arnold Schwarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop): Come on. Stop whining!

Miller: Democrats can look to Pennsylvania, where the party is putting up two interesting Senate candidates. A Not My Party-friendly centrist Marine in Conor Lamb or a tattooed, blue-collar populist in John Fetterman. It’s too early to tell which of those models might work best and we’ll do more on that race next year. (How could we not? Dr. Oz is getting in the race as a Trumpy anti-vax Republican.)

But what Lamb and Fetterman offer Democrats is a chance with different types of swing voters. Lamb will appeal to the Mitt Romney-stanning suburbanites, while Fetterman aims to pull in the disaffected working-class Trumper. But Yaaas King Resistance Democrats don’t bring in any of these subsets of voters—especially in a red state like Texas, where that type of candidate seems poised to rack up a lot of likes on Twitter while losing yet another campaign.

Patton Oswalt (in a True Detective parody): Maybe time is a flat circle.

Miller: See you next week for more Not My Party.

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump, communications director for Jeb Bush 2016, and spokesman for the Republican National Committee.