Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

An Identity Crisis Both Texas Senate Candidates Want to Be Someone Else

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

An Identity Crisis Both Texas Senate Candidates Want to Be Someone Else

Article excerpt

SAN DIEGO -- Once again, the eyes of the nation are upon Texas. This time, our gaze is fixed on a bizarre Senate race where neither of the candidates appears comfortable enough in his own skin to go by his given name.

Republican incumbent Rafael Cruz prefers to go by "Ted," while the Democratic challenger Robert Francis O'Rourke wants you to call him "Beto."

In some states, politicians are defined by where they stand on issues. In Texas, the Senate candidates appear to be struggling with identity issues.

People in the Lone Star State like to say, "Don't mess with Texas." But, as someone who lived in Dallas for five years, I have to wonder: Why are these two Texans so messed up?

Mr. Cruz explained in his 2015 autobiography that he went with "Ted" because "Rafael" often became "Felito" and the kids he grew up with teased him over the nickname. His mom suggested other variations, and he settled on Ted ? which is a long way from Rafael.

The road from "Robert" to "Beto" is shorter, but still ? in the case of Mr. O'Rourke ? not exactly a direct route.

The legend ? which I've heard often from Latino Democrats ? is that the evolution was organic. A bunch of Latino friends who grew up with Mr. O'Rourke in El Paso must have taken a liking to him and made him an honorary Mexican. They dubbed him "Beto." It had nothing to do with politics or a cynical attempt to trick Latinos into thinking he was one of them.

Still, I have to admit, I like the fairy tale that Mr. O'Rourke's Latino supporters are spreading about how he supposedly "became Latino" by growing up around Latinos. Let's call that "LBO" ? Latino by Osmosis.

I want in. I love the Armenian people. I was raised near one of the Armenian capitals of the United States: Fresno, Calif. Under Beto's law, I could be "ABO" ? Armenian by Osmosis. …

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