I was initially turned on by Beto O’Rourke‘s attempt to win Ted Cruz‘s U.S. Senate seat — the youthful elan, the progressive firebrand thing, the humanist current, skateboarding in the parking lot, a tall Bobby Kennedy, etc. And then came the announcement of his Presidential candidacy and that Vanity Fair cover. He seemed destined to have a serious impact. A lot people were sensing this.

But I switched horses when Pete Buttigieg came along. Pete (who is now surging in Iowa polling) struck me as a much more formidable candidate. Suddenly Beto didn’t seem like that gangly rockstar from Texas riding a propulsive groundswell, etc.

Pete aside, the thing that fundamentally killed my Beto allegiance was that he apologized too much to the wokesters. “I’m sorry, so sorry, please forgive me” — too willing to grovel. I’m not suggesting that Beto’s spine is a bit soft, but a vague instinctual suspicion along these lines began to take hold, and I began to feel a certain distance. His compassionate open-border views on immigration were untempered, it seemed, by even a touch of realpolitik pragmatism. He just didn’t seem to have that steady, straight from the shoulder, “this is who I am, take it or leave it” quality. He expressed his beliefs with skill and feeling, but he seemed to be more of an emotional vibe guy than anything else.

And then Beto surged in the early August aftermath of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, and I admired his zeal about automatic-weaponas, and his sudden willingness to pepper his views with profanity while talking to reporters. For the first time he seemed to have thrown away caution; he seemed willing to die on a hill. I admired his declaration that he would, if elected, try to confiscate buy back automatic weapons. Suddenly he didn’t seem wussy. A fresh infusion of fibre.

But that faded after a few days, and Beto never took off. People in my corner liked Pete better — that was mainly it. That and money. Pete and Beto were selling the same generational turnover thing, more or less, but Pete seems more substantive.

I never figured Beto would withdraw before Corey Booker, Julian Castro or Andrew Yang. Who will drop out next? How long can Kamala Harris last?

It’s too bad Beto won’t be running again for the U.S. Senate seat that is currently held by Republican John Cornyn.