Reyes is out and O'Rourke is in. We're going to dwell on this for about another 15 minutes and then we're going to move on. The formula for beating the old guard has been in place since 2004. To see another one fall to a Shapleigh Camper is no surprise at all. It's actually par for the course.
The Republican crossover votes added with about a thousand or so new voters is what put O'Rourke over the top (we're going to call him "Beto" from now on because it's easier to type). If you do the math using the El Paso Times' article over the weekend it pretty much works out that way. I'm sure someone out there will crunch the voter lists next week and find that there were roughly 2,500 crossover voters and around 800 to 1000 new voters - or people who only vote every four years.
There are several reasons to crossover and we can get into those later, but in the end it was the difference no matter what their aim was.
The major problem Reyes had was that he was facing what the Clinton's faced in 2008 - party fatigue. People were tired of his machine. More pointedly - they were tired of his unofficial enforcers running over everyone in the party. Most of you know exactly who I'm talking about and exactly what kinds of behavior I'm talking about. These enforcers worked without the direct knowledge of the congressman even though they used their connection to him to get what they wanted. I think if Reyes knew everything that was going on using his status as the whip, he'd be disgusted.
Did Congressman Reyes know anything about the Aliviane contract? NOPE. Did his staff, friends and family know? YEP. Was his status used to get this thing done without his knowledge or consent? YEP.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. How many people were told not to run for office or not to support the candidate of their choice in a democratic primary? How many people were told to "sit down and shut up" by his enforcers over the years? From what I hear - enough people to deliver the primary election to another democrat.
Those Republican crossovers and new voters don't mean a thing if you have the support of you local party's core. Obviously Reyes lost a lot of that support and people who supported him the past decided to go another direction. Maybe they just wanted to see what life would be like under someone else's thumb. After all, who ever holds the congressional seat, runs the party.
Reyes didn't help himself by not publicly decrying Gandara's indictment for drug trafficking. Lots of voters noticed he didn't want to run to the podium to call the guy a scumbag, which is what he should have done. Reyes lost votes among those who had hoped the Gandara's charm had finally completely disappeared and that he would be the person to confirm it.
Also not helping was Norma Chavez's involvement on his behalf. Everything she touches turns to shit. Many people in the party were unsure of which way to go when Beto first go in the race. When Norma chose a side and decided to treat it with her special brand of nastiness, she sent all the party undecideds to Beto's camp. I can't tell you how many people I received emails from saying they made their decision to volunteer or vote for Beto based on Norma's decision to get involved. The name calling and generally offensive angry outbursts by Norma directed to anyone not on her team solidified their decision. Getting rid of Reyes all of sudden became a way to finally get rid of Norma.
Norma wasn't the only nasty party insider whose ultimate demise was tied to the ousting of Reyes, but she was one of the big ones. Reyes became a package deal that was too good not to vote against and it's his fault for not separating himself from those people.
The final problem was simply time. He'd been there a long time and it's bound to make voters antsy. For years Reyes had no real contest and he got a little used to it and little soft. Had Morris Pittle not been hired, Reyes would have just puttered along and lost by 25 points. Even with Morris the "fire in the belly" didn't come through in many aspects of the campaign. It's hard to get excited when for so many years it took literally nothing to keep you on top and I think that voters saw that.
Beto did a good job with the young folks. They are a group first rallied by Jay Kleberg, then reinvigorated by Jody Casey with the "No Recall" effort and finally successful with Beto. If I were Beto, I'd be calling both Casey and Kleberg to thank them for priming the pump with this group. I'm sure he will. I predict this group isn't done deciding elections just yet. Do watch them, they have finally proven that they will bite you.
The negative campaigning really didn't help or hurt anyone. In El Paso negative campaigning is a sign of strength and it works very well. Show me one good example of a race where negative campaigning took the clear winner out of contention. You can't. In El Paso you people look up to the bully, not the scholar. Your elections are a testament to that. Reyes probably wouldn't have been within ten points if he didn't go negative. He would have been seen as weak if he didn't.
And those are the high points. Gotta run.