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Ted Cruz Panics As Dem Candidate Beto O’Rourke Wins Nomination To Face Him In November

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Ted Cruz Panics As Dem Candidate Beto O’Rourke Wins Nomination To Face Him In November

Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke won last night’s primary election, becoming the Democratic candidate for U.S Senate to compete against Republican Senator Ted Cruz in November.

Born Robert Francis O’Rourke, the Irish-American candidate goes by his childhood nickname of Beto, short for Roberto. He speaks fluent Spanish. His congressional district is 75 percent Hispanic and he openly opposes Trump’s border wall.

O’Rourke, who has emerged as a fundraising force, is pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-pot and pro-immigration, and he’s aiming to take Ted Cruz’s Senate seat in November.

In any other year, the Democratic lawmaker would be a political footnote in deep-red Texas, where no one from his party has won statewide office in more than two decades. But Texas has seen an increase in Democratic turnout over 2016 while GOP votes fell a massive 40 percent. The general election could very well be competitive.

And, as O’Rourke likes to point out on the campaign trail, he has raised nearly three times as much money as Cruz this year, all without accepting contributions from corporations or political action committees. (He recently returned donations from The American Bankers Association and Vistra Energy.)

Still, Democrats face an uphill battle. The state hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1988, and Donald Trump won there in 2016 by nine percentage points.

In Cruz, O’Rourke also faces a well-connected incumbent popular with conservatives. The Republican has more cash on hand–about $6 million to O’Rourke’s $4.9 million–and can rely on donors and Super PACs from his failed 2016 presidential campaign. One such group, Texans ARE, has already raised $1.7 million.

However, Democrats sense an opening, particularly as Texas’ growing Latino population shifts the Lone Star State’s politics to the left. Hispanics now make up 28 percent of the eligible voters in Texas, and O’Rourke is courting them.

Even Cruz, who has called for tripling border security and ending all paths to citizenship for illegal immigrants, seems to sense the changing political landscape.

Cruz warned his supporters not to get complacent. “The far left is going to show up and vote. We are already seeing in early votes right now Democratic turnout shattering records,” he told Republicans at an El Paso dinner. “If we know the hard left is going to show up in big, big numbers, then our job is clear, we’ve got to make sure conservatives show up in big, big numbers to keep Texas red.”

A recent poll put O’Rourke within single digits of Cruz and early primary voting shows that Democratic turnout has increased dramatically. In fact, it’s doubled compared to the party’s 2014 midterm primary and surpasses 2016 presidential primary levels.

O’Rourke is working to capitalize on that Democratic excitement in what many strategists in both parties still consider a long-shot campaign.

His plan borrows from the playbook of Barack Obama’s first presidential bid: Campaign in deeply conservative districts to mitigate the size of the loss there while driving up turnout in urban areas. His relentless touring schedule, however, hails from his days as a post-hardcore guitarist in the 1990s.

“We had been on the road nonstop for years in this shitty little van playing shows in front of six people night after night,” O’Rouke said. “People connected to that and that was the foundation of our success.”

He’s hoping to form those slow and hard-earned connections once again, even if that means a year of non-stop campaigning. “I could be safe and not screw it up, not win but not lose,” O’Rourke said. “Or we could go for broke and run like there’s nothing to lose.”

President Donald Trump’s 2016 election inspired O’Rourke to consider a Senate run. “On election night, I was concerned about my kids,” he said. “I thought, ‘How am I going to answer for this?’ I decided I needed to put everything on the line and stand up for what I believed in. There has been this rise in paranoia and anxiety dominating the national conversation. I know we can do better than that.”

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