Drug Policy

Aided by Super PAC, Pot Legalizer Defeats Drug Warrior in Texas Congressional Primary


Last night Beto O'Rourke, a former El Paso city councilman, won the Democratic nomination to represent Texas' 16th Congressional District, knocking off eight-term incumbent Silvestre Reyes. This is good news for at least two reasons:

1. Reyes, backed by President Obama and former President Bill Clinton, is a hack who was targeted for defeat by the Campaign for Primary Accountability, a super PAC funded by wealthy Texans that promotes challenges to complacent, long-serving incumbents of both parties. Mother Jones described the race as "a classic case of an up-and-coming insurgent taking on the machine." Although O'Rourke told Mother Jones that Citizens United v. FEC, the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that made super PACs possible, was "a terrible decision," his victory is yet another piece of evidence that lifting restraints on "outside groups" has shaken things up and made elections more competitive. 

2. O'Rourke is a critic of the war on drugs who co-wrote a book decrying prohibition-related violence and advocating marijuana legalization, while Reyes, who served in the U.S. Border Patrol for 26 years, is an unreconstructed drug warrior. During the campaign O'Rourke called the war on drugs "a failure," while Reyes accused him of encouraging drug use by children. O'Rourke won 50.5 percent of the vote in the five-way race, compared to 44.4 percent for Reyes. "O'Rourke's victory demonstrates that support for drug policy reform, and even for legalizing marijuana, is no detriment to electoral success—in fact, it was a key asset in his triumph," says Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of Drug Policy Action. "Reyes' surprising defeat, meanwhile, shows that knee-jerk support for persisting with failed drug war tactics can hurt politicians at the ballot box."

Three years ago, when O'Rourke was serving on the El Paso City Council, it unanimously approved a resolution calling for a debate about alternatives to the war on drugs, which Mayor John Cook vetoed. Reyes lobbied the council members to refrain from overriding Cook's veto, warning that the resolution was making El Paso look bad in Washington, jeopardizing his district's cut of federal stimulus money. Looking back, Cook explains, "I thought that was an extremely dangerous debate for people to have."

Matt Welch noted O'Rourke's challenge to Reyes last week.

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  1. Beto O’Rourke. What a name.

    1. Looking back, Cook explains, “I thought that was an extremely dangerous debate for people to have.”

      Not as dangerous as a no-knock raid.

      1. It just depends on what side of the aisle (or door) you’re on. No debate is the danger! But I guess we all know that here.

        1. The whole idea is, once the decision has been made to legalise, everyone can then ‘Debate’ how they will be legalised.
          The majority is sick of debate as nothing more than a delaying measure to keep the war going as long as possible.

    2. My first thought was, “Did another Irishman on DS9 have a kid with a Bajoran?”

      My second thought was, “Holy fuck that’s depressing that that was my first thought.”

      1. So would we treat his name according to the Bajoran custom? Congressman Beto.

      2. Yes, it is depressing that you watched DS9. I thought you had some taste, Jimbo.

        1. What’s the matter Epi, can’t handle a show with stories that last longer than a sentence? No wonder you like ATHF.

          1. Calm down, Hitler. You think Ron Howard just wished Willow was great? No, and yet it was.

            1. Hitler! This is great and I just learned what Godwin’s law is!

        2. Sez the Voyager fanboi living out his hipster dreams in the hipster capital of hipsterdom, Seattle.

          1. Epi loves Voyager? God, no wonder he has no friends. But at least he can go home every night and have a quiet dinner with his Chakotay cutout.

          2. Even if that were true, at least VGR had Jeri Ryan. DS9 had…Terry Farrell? And not Back to School Terry Farrell, even.

            Even when you attempt to insult me, you prove your lack of taste.

            1. First of all, Voyager is abbreviated to VOY. V’Ger was the probe in Star Trek: the Motion Picture.

              Second, Jeri Ryan was a mid-series replacement, so if you want to judge fairly, you have to judge her against Nicole de Boer, who is way hotter.

              How you manage to type after suffering that massive brain injury is a mystery.

              1. I declare Hugh to be the winner, both of this debate, and in developing individual sentience so that he can spread it to the rest of the collective.

              2. Nicole De Boer is hotter than Jeri Ryan? I don’t even have to insult you, since you do it so well yourself.

                And the fact that you managed to reference TMP without mentioning Persis Khambatta is clearly indicative of your criminal tastelessness.

                The only brain injury I might suffer is a burst blood vessel from my rage at your impertinence.

                1. I didn’t even want to bring up TMP, because every time I do you can’t stop talking about DeForest Kelly and his skin-tight unitard.

                  Clearly it doesn’t matter to you what a person actually looks like, as long as they are wearing a spandex bodysuit.

                  1. Well, I can’t argue with that, Hugh. But the fact that your favorite captain is Archer damns you to an eternity of awfulness. See, this is the point where if you had said that about me, you’d fail to mention Jolene Blalock.

                    You are just the worst, Hugh. The worst.

                    1. Hey, ENT was way better than people give it credit for. Captain Archer leaping into the bodies of previous Trek characters, aided by his holographic sidekick Brother Cavil was totally awesome.

                2. without mentioning Persis Khambatta

                  Disgusting baldies don’t deserve mention.

            2. Back to School has been on TV a lot the last week. Funny that you should mention that. I bet we were watching it at the same time. Fag.

              1. “I hereby dedicate this thread to…myself.”

                1. Robert Downey Jr.’s finest hour. I still want to troll a dive meet.

                  1. “Violent ground acquisition games such as football are in fact a crypto-fascist metaphor for nuclear war.”

                2. Uh guys, we need to stop making fun of Epi. He just did this between posts, presumably because of our cyberbullying.

                  1. Yeah, I’d never shoot myself in West Seattle, Jimbo. Try again.

                    1. Too many hipsters? Or not enough hipsters?

                    2. Both…and neither.

                      Frylock: What’s your point?

                      Master Shake: I never had one. And that just drives you crazy, doesn’t it?

                    3. It drives me apeshit that I missed this thread. Especially because DS9 is clearly superior to VOY. Let’s see: Avery Brooks running around saving the Alpha Quadrant through an awesome war, or Senator Hillary Rodham Janeway attempting to United Nationsize the Delta Quadrant?

                      Not even a close call.

                    4. I just want to point out that you guys are fighting over Star Trek. There are no winners in this fight.

    3. Kinda like Bernardo O’Higgins.

    4. He’s that Brazilian Irish dude.

  2. Hey I want three reasons like in your videos. Not two. How hard can it be to come up with one more reason?

    3. Drugs are fun, mmkay?

  3. Obviously the drug warriors need to step up their game. I mean come on, if they can conduct warrantless raids on random schleps then surely they can drop the hammer on legit political opposition.

    1. ….surely they can drop the hammer on legit political opposition.

      Only if he’s a dog.

  4. During the campaign O’Rourke called the war on drugs “a failure,” while Reyes accused him of encouraging drug use by children.

    What a disgusting human being.

  5. “I thought that was an extremely dangerous debate for people to have.”

    Because discussing things is dangerous. Got it.

    What sort of cancer causes the longest duration of suffering before death? Because that’s what I wish on Cook and Reyes.

    1. (failing a suitable form of cancer, I’ll go with my old standby of inoperable foot injury.)

      1. yo, fried! I thought of some more ‘ideas’ if you want to give them a whirl.

    2. Damnit Fried! Don’t you know open discussion leads to actual thinking and a free exchange of ideas. And through tis process actual learning may be achieved.

  6. Doesn’t O’Rourke look a little like Hugh Grant?

    1. I thought he looked like Jeff Flake.

  7. A new “Great Liberaltarian Hope”!Good to see some Democrats taking out an Obama-backed incumbent.

    1. SIV, he’s a fucking Dem. This is the part right before they take his brain out and replace it with the Borg brain. Next time you see him, he will have dead eyes and be talking about how we are winning the WOD.

      1. I know but the “liberaltarian bar” is a low hurdle to clear. Look for fawning Reason profiles of O’Rourke in the future. Turning out an incumbent is victory enough for now.

  8. have to admit, I am kinda surprised no one pulled out the race card, with teh white guy knocking off the long-term incumbent Hispanic. And in El Paso of all places. Maybe if Beto was a Repub.

    1. That would be if he were Bob O’Rourke, but ya see cause he is Beto, at least he’s a white Hispanic… so he’s ok long as he has sworn off that evil 2nd amendment.

  9. Just one thing. Isn’t this Latin Irish dude just a little mixed up about party alliance? I mean, the GOP is pretty crappy, but my God man, Democrat? You have to be a lockstep party drone to exist in that realm.

  10. Well. Not that I’ve ever liked BETO (as his yard signs proclaim him), but at least Reyes is gone.

    1. What if he loses to ALPHO in the general?

      1. Unless someone shows up with video of the D candidate in the general doing coke off the penis of a ten-year-old, the 16th will elect the guy with the D. And if someone had video of BETO doing coke off the penis of a ten-year-old, I think it would have come out before the primary.

  11. d former TV producer Trevor Thomas ? are http://www.lunettesporto.com/l…..c-3_6.html lining up to run against him in November. And that’s not even counting the Rep

  12. People in El Paso have a pretty different view of the WOD from that which is swallowed whole by the average American. Many people there either have family just across the border or at least have good friends who do. Living just a few miles away from where a vicious, blood-drenched, drug war is being fought in the streets makes one pay more attention to the details.

    I expect this is why Beto got the support he did.

    1. Eh. Didn’t seem like a drug war campaign from here.

      The “big” issue I heard people talking about, and which the Campaign for Primary Accountability super PAC ran its TV ads about, was how Reyes paid himself and his family $600,000 out of campaign funds, and how his kids were hired by a government contractor that was awarded a $200 million no-bid contract. Standard “he’s corrupt” stuff.

      And Reyes’s ads did mention Beto’s support for “legalization of narcotics”, but only as part of a general character attack ad that included unclear video supposedly of Beto being spanked in public while drunk, and a college-age arrest on a charge that was dropped, and the like.

      1. The old Aqua Buddha attack, huh?

  13. but only as part of a general character attack ad that included unclear video supposedly of Beto being spanked in public while drunk,

    Why would this be a bad thing?

  14. O’Rourke won 50.5 percent of the vote in the five-way race, compared to 44.4 percent for Reyes.

    That ain’t no five-way race. That’s a two-way race with three dead horses.

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