AUSTIN, Texas – Just nine months ago, attorney Katie Baron was so inspired by Beto O’Rourke’s Senate campaign in Texas that she commissioned a sprawling mural on the side of a building in east Austinfeaturing the candidate in a Superman-like pose.
After O’Rourke lost race and began mulling a presidential campaign, the artist added a sweeping “2020” in blue paint – providing what seemed to be yet one more call for O’Rourke to get into the crowded race.
Now, four months into O’Rourke’s campaign, Baron wishes he had stayed out.
After the first Democratic presidential debate last month, Baron posted an altered picture of the mural on a Facebook page dedicated to the artwork. She had replaced O’Rourke’s face with Sen. Kamala D. Harris’s and wrote: “Don’t worry, still got PLENTY of love for Beto, but Kamala earned herself a little recognition too last night!” The comments filled with messages from angry O’Rourke supporters and a few excited Harris backers.
While Baron says she will be forever grateful to O’Rourke for inspiring her and thousands of others to become politically active, she doesn’t think he’s the strongest candidate for president, nor has he shown he can nationalize the magic of his Senate campaign.
“If the primary vote was tomorrow, he wouldn’t have my vote,” said Baron, 35, who likes Harris, D-Calif., for her sharp intellect and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., for her methodical policy papers.
“Being part of the Beto-mania that was fueling the fire, I can see why he kind of thought he had no choice but to enter,” she said. “Honestly, I did get a little caught up. We were still riding the wave of the midterms.”
As O’Rourke slogs through a difficult primary season, he’s not only struggling to gain the support of voters who don’t know of him, but also to hold…