Texas Democratic Primary Just Got Real

I’ve got a piece up today on a Democratic House primary in El Paso, where former councilman Beto O’Rourke is challenging 16-year incumbent Silvestre Reyes. The kicker is that O’Rourke is an outspoken critic of the War on Drugs who’s clashed with Reyes over federal drug policy; in a border district, the election amounts to a sort of referendum on the Drug War. The current polling of the race, such as it is, has the two deadlocked.

Why is a longtime incumbent facing an early retirement? University of Texas–El Paso professor Gregory Rocha suspected it was partly because Reyes has been kind of lethargic when it comes to defining himself and his opponent.

So right on cue, with election day just six days away, the Reyes campaign has gone what I think you could charitably call “scorched earth”:

The El Paso Times has a handy fact-check of the charges: The DUI came when O’Rourke was 25 (he’s 40 now) and has not seemed to hurt him in his previous races; the “attempted burglary” came when he was in college and according to the candidate consisted of him jumping a fence. The drunken spanking incident happened last June at an El Paso bar. In the grainy footage, O’Rourke is seen dancing, falling on his back, and then being spanked by a female companion. Although O’Rourke was undoubtedly spanked, it’s not clear whether he was intoxicated.

In any event, I’m fairly certain this is the first-ever attack ad to feature the phrase “he was recently videoed publicly intoxicated being spanked.”

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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