It’s the time of year when journalists take stock of the year just passed. In Texas, that annual look back wouldn’t be complete without Texas Monthly’s Bum Steer Awards. They’re the annual prizes handed out by the magazine to Texans who made a big, not-so-good impression. This year, top honors went to two beleaguered Texas politicos.
Jeff Salamon is deputy editor of Texas Monthly. He says former congressman and presidential candidate, Beto O’Rourke, and Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, were this year’s bum steers.
“Journalists try not to be too judgmental, but I think it’s OK to refer to him as the ‘disgraced‘ speaker of the House,” Salamon says. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a political scandal like that in this state.”
Bonnen, who was praised for leading a successful legislative session in the spring, got into trouble when he was caught on tape promising a conservative activist group press credentials in exchange for targeting Republican members of the Texas House.
Salamon says O’Rourke didn’t earn his Bum Steer for trying and failing to become president. Rather, it’s because he wasted an opportunity to run for Senate in 2020.
“The feeling was that he squandered a great deal of political capital and popularity in Texas, and instead of trying to expend that capital in Texas, and to help Texas, where Democrats really needed him, he went off on a national run for a position that he was arguably not very well qualified for,” Salamon says.
Salomon says O’Rourke believed those who told him he could win the presidency.
“I think he reached for more than he really could grasp,” he says.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.