A Congressional break is about to begin, but Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke (TX-16) won’t be slowing down. He’s campaigning for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Ted Cruz.
Last Friday, it was a decidedly unconventional beginning for his campaign: the windy rooftop of the Plaza Theater in El Paso.
And Congressman O’Rourke let hundreds of supporters know that a Senate campaign won’t stop him from fighting rhetoric about the supposed danger of being close to Mexico here in Texas, a state that spends $800 million a year on border security.
He thanked the crowd for helping him spread the message that El Paso is the safest city in the nation “not in spite of, but because of the fact that we are a city of immigrants.” El Paso has repeatedly been named the safest U.S. city with a population of 500,000 or more, based on crime statistics.
O’Rourke added that keeping communities safe is not about locking up non-violent drug offenders. He says the country, like a growing number of states, should legalize marijuana.
Should he win the Democratic nomination, O’Rourke will face Republican Senator Ted Cruz. A Cruz fundraising e-mail called O’Rourke an “unabashed liberal” with a “progressive ideology out of touch with the majority of Texans.”
O’Rourke says he’s in touch with the people, but is far removed from traditional politics. He promised he’d serve no more than four terms in the House. And now, he says he won’t serve more than two six-year terms in the U.S. Senate, if elected.
O’Rourke also says that he will continue to refuse corporate money from Political Action Committees. That pledge drew wide support from the crowd. But some analysts say it may be a significant challenge in a race that could cost up to $40 million for each candidate.
O’Rourke has always bucked the political system, beating an incumbent when elected to the El Paso city council. And in 2012, shocking the political world by defeating a longtime incumbent in the Democratic primary for U.S. House.
How rare is that?
2016 RE-ELECTION RATES
97% U.S. HOUSE
87% U.S. SENATE
If O’Rourke is worried about those odds, you wouldn’t know it. He insists he entered the Senate campaign to win.
And in a state where leaders have made preventing transgender students from using a bathroom a top priority, O’Rourke says Texas can do better for our children.
O’Rourke said, “They deserve leadership that is not focused on bathrooms, but is focused on making sure that we have better classrooms.”