Undecided voters in the suddenly surprisingly tight Senate race between incumbent Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke were handed some potentially game-changing news earlier this week by the official Twitter account of the Republican party of Texas. In a series of what one can only assume were meant to be revelatory tweets, O’Rourke, the party pointed out, seems like a really cool dude.
The impetus for the chiding was the two campaigns’ inability to agree on terms of a proposed debate, something the Texas GOP has framed as O’Rourke backing down from a challenge.
“Maybe Beto can’t debate Ted Cruz because he already had plans…” they wrote in a tweet on Tuesday night. “Sorry, can’t debate. We have a gig.”
Maybe Beto can’t debate Ted Cruz because he already had plans… pic.twitter.com/LdqKTh3yK4
— Texas GOP (@TexasGOP) August 28, 2018
The picture in question, in which O’Rourke can be seen wearing a sundress, comes from his days as a musician in an El Paso hardcore band Foss in the early 1990s. One of his bandmates in Foss was Cedric Bixler-Zavala, who’d later go onto front At the Drive-In, a hugely influential and popular hardcore crossover band, and the Mars Volta. While O’Rourke’s band wasn’t exactly what most critics would call very good, or “remotely listenable” to use a technical term, “my opponent was in a band with and remains friends with one of the coolest musicians of the past 20 years”, might not have been quite the destructive insult the GOP intended it to be.
Considering his opponent Cruz isn’t exactly renowned for his hipster bonafides, highlighting O’Rourke’s relative coolness is a questionable strategy, and one that appears to have backfired, if not among actual voters, then certainly on the internet at large, where the effort was roundly and almost universally mocked.
The party made another failed attempt at an insult, with a tweet showing O’Rourke brandishing a skateboard, after a video of him skating in a burger chain parking lot earlier this month proved he actually knows how to use it.
A more legitimate takedown was a post featuring O’Rourke’s mugshot after an arrest for driving under the influence in 1998. But considering, as many on Twitter have pointed out, how handsome (in a very specifically 90s fashion) O’Rourke looks in the photo, that may not have been the best idea, either. Not to mention the fact that pleading guilty to a DUI doesn’t have the best track record for disqualifying a person from succeeding in Texas politics, if the career of the 43rd president is any indication.
The flare-up follows O’Rourke’s most recent crossover into national news, after a video in which he passionately and eloquently explained why he supports NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.
It’s a stance that has put him in stark contrast with Cruz and other Republicans, but as the tweets from the Texas GOP this week reminded us, there’s a lot of other things they don’t have in common.