Some Real Kindergarten Drama From the 2020 Dems

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During a private dinner in Iowa, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand reportedly took a shot at Texas almost-Sen. Beto O’Rourke, who’s been touted as a possible candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

With a heavy heart I must say this again: drama!!

As the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, Gillibrand, who announced her candidacy earlier this month, said O’Rourke was selfish during his 2018 campaign for not sharing some of his campaign war chest with down-ballot Democrats. Gillibrand’s team “disputed the characterization of the conversation,” whatever the hell that means, but didn’t outright deny it. Per the Journal:

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, during her first swing through Iowa as a presidential candidate, told a private dinner of state lawmakers that Mr. O’Rourke was selfish for not sharing any of his 2018 fundraising haul with down-ballot Democrats, according to two people in attendance. An aide to Ms. Gillibrand disputed the characterization of the conversation.


This is some very dumb drama. Gillibrand’s point is essentially a rehashing of a stupid line of attack O’Rourke’s opponents tried to launch during his Senate race criticizing him for not spreading the wealth. This was dumb when the Republicans tried it and remains dumb. The conventional Democratic Party logic follows that Texas races deemed un-winnable should funnel money to races that are viewed as winnable. This is all well and good, but O’Rourke came way closer than anyone expected, so it would have been extremely shortsighted to ask him to offload cash that helped make a long-shot race seem within reach.

The Journal also reported Gillibrand was specifically focusing on down-ballot candidates in Texas, not out-of-state Democrats, which could perhaps account for the “characterization of the conversation” her camp disputes. Whatever the case, the down-ballot critique doesn’t hold much water either, as Chris Hooks, a Texas-based journalist who has freelanced for Splinter, pointed out:


O’Rourke raised the money! Whatever his weird centrist policies mean for a future presidential race, his Texas campaign was unequivocally positive for liberals in the state. Other Democrats trying to leech off his effective fundraising apparatus (oil money included) instead of just like, learning from and replicating it, is some petty bullshit.

And aside from all that, why is Gillibrand taking shots at O’Rourke anyway? It could be she’s trying to establish him as some kind of non-team player, similar to the Clinton campaign’s criticism of Bernie Sanders in 2016. (Which, again, was bullshit, considering how hard Sanders campaigned for Clinton after losing the nomination). But damn, the guy’s not even in the race yet. He’s currently road tripping around writing Beatnik free-association essays on Medium, so I think we can all take a step back for a bit. The full Journal story, however, is all about Beto as the front-runner, which, god, this is all so exhausting.