Is Beto O’Rourke truly a progressive presidential candidate? Former student staffers Bryant Young and Autumn Lanning no longer think so.
After O’Rourke’s loss to Ted Cruz in last October’s Texas Senate race, Young and Lanning took a long, hard look at their candidate’s voting record and decided it was time to shake off their “Betomania,” moving instead to throw their support behind Bernie Sanders ahead of the 2020 race.
“I spent about five months as a staffer for the campaign,” said Young in a video (below) on his new YouTube channel, “Bern the System.” “The youth energy was very real, very organic. All of these events that I went to, hundreds and hundreds of students would come through and talk about why they were passionate about these issues, and why they supported Beto. The grassroots energy felt very progressive. But the candidate is not progressive.”
In the video and a recent interview with The Texas Tribune, Young and Lanning describe the wake-up call that was O’Rourke’s “fawning over” pro-Israel lobby AIPAC in a September tweet.
This jarring post incited a deeper look into O’Rourke’s voting history, and as Young describes in his video, the realization that his former champion’s political record does not hold up to scrutiny. He notes Beto’s votes to raise the cap for speculative spending in order de-regulate Wall Street, to fast-track TPP, against “Medicare For All.”
But the real kicker for the two young wonks may have been O’Rourke’s withdrawal from the “No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge” after the discovery that his campaign was littered with donations from oil executives. “Realizing that he was the No. 2 recipient of fossil fuel money and the No. 1 is Ted Cruz … that’s really just not acceptable,” Lanning told the Tribune.
Young also describes literally losing friends over his pivot to Team Sanders. “It hasn’t been received too well from my former co-workers,” he told the Tribune. “There’s a lot of burned bridges there.”
A spokesperson for Beto for America, however, extended continued gratitude from O’Rourke for Young and Lanning being a “part of the largest grassroots campaign Texas had ever seen.” Always the charmer.
It is yet to be seen whether there will be a greater fallout of ex-Beto staffers as more attention is paid to his voting record, but Young and Lanning lead the O’Rourxit to Sander’s campaign for now.