This could be Rep. Rangel’s worst nightmare. His House colleague, Silvestre Reyes (D-El Paso) lost in a newly redistricted district to Robert O’Rourke, a former city councilman backed by the Campaign for Primary Accountability superPAC, which dedicated to defeating incumbents. The Campaign for Primary Accountability is supporting state Senator Adriano Espaillat in his bid to unseat Rep. Rangel.
In a district that covers the city of El Paso, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, an eight-term incumbent and former chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, was handily defeated by a 39-year-old former city councilman, Columbia student and rock musician named Robert (Beto) O’Rourke.
Even before ballots were cast, outsiders were sizing up the national implications of the potential upset.
Last week, the Economist’s “Democracy in America” blog suggested that O’Rourke’s rising fortunes were owed to anti-incumbency fervor—a mini Tea Party rebellion that has seen moderate House Democrats like Pennsylvania’s Tim Holden dispatched by challenges from the left. And Reyes was part of a bipartisan group of congressmen targeted by The Campaign for Primary Accountability, a super PAC that aims to oust incumbents. Some liberal blogs also attributed O’Rourke’s victory to his favorable stance towards marijuana legalization, an issue with particular salience in a district that sits across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Juarez, which has been ravaged by Mexico’s drug war.
Some of the people who followed the race most closely, however, ascribe its outcome to a more specific, less universally profound factor: O’Rourke is a really talented politician.
Should Rep. Rangel be worried about his re-election changes?