It’s Fairly Obvious Which Real Life Politician Tino in ‘The Politician’ Is Based On

The following story contains spoilers for Season 2 of Netflix’s The Politician. Do not read further unless if you’ve seen the season already or don’t mind being spoiled.

Not every character in Ryan Murphy’s Netflix series The Politician has a real-world parallel, but one that does is a fairly straightforward one to figure out. Tino McCutcheon (Sam Jaeger), who is introduced in the show’s first season finale, is described as a junior senator from Texas, and he eventually reveals his presidential ambitions. Sound familiar? Probably because that’s the exact political track of former 2020 Democratic candidate and Ted Cruz senate opponent Beto O’Rourke. Even their names—Beto and Tino—are similar. There’s only one minor difference—O’Rourke himself never became a U.S. senator (though he did, of course, have presidential ambitions).

This can be pretty easily explained. The first season of The Politician was filmed in fall of 2018, which would’ve been right around when O’Rourke’s Senate campaign against incumbent Ted Cruz was really gaining steam. As O’Rourke, a Democrat in a traditionally red, conservative state such as Texas, began tightening the race, some began wondering if the tight result meant that he could be a viable candidate for the 2020 presidential race. In August of 2018, Texas Monthly ran a story titled “Will Beto O’Rourke Become President?” When Murphy and company were developing the show, this narrative was certainly out there and present.

Tino, referred to in the show as the “junior Senator from Texas” has the exact job title that O’Rourke would have had if he had defeated Cruz (John Cornyn is the state’s senior senator); it’s fairly clear that the character was developed thinking that O’Rourke would win, or, at least, inspired by the idea that someone like that could win. Instead, he lost the race to Cruz by less than 3%, the closest Senate race in Texas since 1978.

Subscribe to Men’s Health


Despite losing to Cruz, O’Rourke’s presidential ambition remained; he announced his 2020 run with a flashy Vanity Fair cover story. Despite a lot of hype, his campaign never really got off the ground, and he dropped out by November.

One way that the character of Tino is different from O’Rourke, though, is probably in how scummy he’s portrayed, though. The second season finds Tino in the midst of an affair with Georgina Hobart (Gwyneth Paltrow), a candidate for Governor of California and also a candidate for his potential vice president. Tino is also cheating on his wife, who’s shown as in a lengthy coma after coming down with Trichinosis, a food-borne illness usually linked to eating undercooked pork.

While the character and O’Rourke have nothing in common at all in this regard (O’Rourke has been happily married to Amy Sanders for 15 years), scenes of Tino speaking to his comatose wife do further establish the link between the two. At one point, Tino whispers to his unconscious wife that “I mean, Senate, it’s boring as shit. But two years from now, I’m running for president, so if you wouldn’t mind moving this process along…” A first-term senator looking ahead to a presidential race. The pieces certainly fit.



It’s possible that O’Rourke’s senate loss and presidential campaign never really taking off impacted the storyline of his Politician counterpart. Where the first season finale makes Tino seem like a pretty can’t miss candidate for the White House, the second season shows him as a weak man whose campaign gets entirely tanked midseason when his wife wakes up from her coma.

Why Ryan Murphy and company decided to create this character in O’Rourke’s shadow is anyone’s guess. But when the third season rolls around (and as with the promise of the show’s premise, it will follow an even bigger election—a presidential election) we can be sure that there will likely be some more clear parallels. But who? We’ll just have to put the pieces together all over again.

Source: Read Full Article