Mr. Hensarling is among the Texas Democrats who have said that they will vote for Mr. Beto O’Rourke if he runs, according to a person familiar with the matter. But the social media response was swift on Sunday night.
“Wow! Thank you @RepBetoORourke. And thanks to your mom Mary, for helping us paint the town red!” tweeted Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, as he captioned a video he posted to Twitter.
John Ward, an associate professor of political science at UT-Austin, said the response was in line with Mr. O’Rourke’s response to Senator Ted Cruz when he referred to him during the Democrat’s Senate campaign as “the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.”
“This just shows how dramatically the #MeToo movement is changing how people view public figures,” he said. “And if Mr. O’Rourke’s response to Cruz is any guide, it may not be about confirming he did or didn’t watch porn or sexual images, but about much more on the issue of his fitness for office.”
Mr. O’Rourke has been embraced by much of the Texas political establishment, even among the Republican Party establishment. Governor Greg Abbott, for example, promoted Mr. O’Rourke on Twitter in October after his victory in El Paso, calling him “a new generation leader.” After President Trump praised Mr. Cruz’s third place showing against Mr. O’Rourke in a CNN/ORC poll released last week, Senator Ted Cruz replied by tweeting, “Here’s a guy who spent his career fighting against equal pay, against the #MeToo movement, and against the advancement of women in our caucus.”
Mr. Ward said Mr. O’Rourke’s response suggested that he may be treating Mr. Trump as a target for his campaigns in the general election.
“You can’t minimize how sensitive it is,” he said. “Never before have you seen a Democratic candidate react in the way Mr. O’Rourke has in terms of temperament and character to be the standard-bearer in Texas.”