Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who was one of the first openly gay members of Congress, said on Friday that Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke “may be regretting that he’s straight.”
O’Rourke’s star has dimmed while South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s has risen, and Frank said Buttigieg’s sexual orientation is helping an otherwise milquetoast candidate stand out in the crowded presidential field.
“His being gay is an advantage and, if he were straight, I don’t think he would be doing as well,” Frank told the Boston Globe. “It attracts attention to him and he gets points for being open and honest and gives people a chance to affirm their lack of prejudice.
Frank then added: “I think Beto O’Rourke may be regretting that he’s straight.”
Buttigieg’s boomlet, powered by the same wealthy white wine-track liberals who had fawned over O’Rourke, has come at O’Rourke’s expense. Buttigieg, who is now in third place in numerous state and national polls, has moved ahead of O’Rourke in the RealClearPolitics average of the polls. Before Buttigieg’s boomlet, O’Rourke often placed third in state and national polls behind frontrunners former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
The Los Angeles Times noted this week that O’Rourke “spent four days meandering through California” and “seemed just as much in flux, searching for direction even more than votes in the state’s March 3 primary.”
O’Rourke—who was criticized for getting more media attention after losing his 2018 Texas Senate race than Democrats of color like failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and failed Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum—immediately apologized for his white privilege after entering the presidential race.
After O’Rourke opened his campaign by going on what seemed like an apology tour, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg mocked O’Rourke for apologizing for just “being born.”
“Beto, whatever his name is, he’s apologized for being born. I mean, I don’t mean to be unkind,” Bloomberg said. “And a lot of people love him and say he’s a smart guy. And someday, if he wins, I’d certainly support him.”