Robert Francis O’Rourke’s failed senatorial campaign is the subject of a documentary called Running With Beto. The 94-minute film premiered at South by Southwest and will debut on HBO this spring.

HBO said the film gives “viewers unprecedented access into the personal and political toll that running for office can take on a candidate and a family, capturing revealing moments with his wife and three young kids throughout the grueling journey.” 

HBO’s statement continues, “The film draws on intimate access to O’Rourke, his tight-knit family and his team of political newcomers, who champion a new way of getting to know a candidate — one Texas county at a time.  Revealing the challenges of the campaign trail, Running With Beto documents Beto’s battles with an onslaught of negative advertising, the inevitable strain on his family, and the pressure of delivering for those he inspires.”

Most Texas residents would agree the national media already gave us unprecedented access to O’Rourke. And just about every Texas political candidate in history has campaigned one Texas county at a time. But the notion that O’Rourke, the suffering socialist servant, battled an onslaught of negative ads, strain on his family, and pressure of delivering … well, how could he possibly submit himself to a presidential campaign? The suffering and victimization would be too great.

Just a few years ago, it’s easy to imagine the possibility of a similar press release for a Wendy Davis documentary in the aftermath of her failed 2014 challenge to Greg Abbott. Texans were not subjected to that punishment, but Davis still looks to cash in on her Let Her Speak movie featuring Sandra Bullock.

The celebrity sensationalism of failed Texas Democrat candidates is quickly making it economically attractive to be a loser. In fact, the boost such candidates are giving to the Texas film industry may be the best argument for finally defunding the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program. Defunding TMIIIP was a priority in the Texas Republican 2018 Platform.

There’s no need for taxpayers to incentivize films when it appears the private marketplace is doing the job. As an example, the financiers of Running With Beto all appear to be wealthy Texas liberals—including one family, the Halberts, with prominent connections to the leadership of the historically conservative Abilene Christian University.

Running With Beto continues the trend of Texas Democrats rewarding their sacrificial lamb candidates with Hollywood stardom, cash, and a cult of personality. Taxpayer funds shouldn’t be used to subsidize movies—much less propaganda films for presidential campaigns. Texans should use this moment to encourage legislators to run away from film subsidies as quickly as possible.


Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.