AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke has repeatedly out-raised his incumbent opponent, Sen. Ted Cruz. In addition, he’s been packing auditoriums and town halls across the state – even in the reddest counties.
Despite that, the question on everyone’s mind – can he win?
That’s the million-dollar question in what’s been dubbed Texas’ marquee race this election cycle.
- O'Rourke facing uphill battle
- Democrat supports Second Amendment but favors gun-control measures
- Cruz characterizes O'Rourke as too liberal
Capital Tonight’s Karina Kling caught up with the congressman from El Paso following a campaign stop at Southwestern University in Georgetown on Sunday morning. The event drew the kind of crowd that has Democrats across the country excited.
Keys to Winning
O’Rourke has now visited 237 of Texas’ 254 counties. He said showing up and convincing voters in often-ignored regions is key to unseating incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and becoming the first Democrat to win statewide in 24 years.
“The places that Democrats have not been in before, not showed up and [connected] with those who want someone to fight for them and to serve them and represent them is the best way to be able to do something that before was thought impossible,” O’Rourke said.
An Uphill Battle
The battle ahead is not lost on O’Rourke. While he won his primary, he only received 62 percent of the Democratic vote. Republican primary voters outpaced Democrats by 500,000.
“I’m confident that it’s not just going to be Democrats, Independents who come out and vote with us in November, but Republicans as well,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke addressed the controversial Texas issue of gun control. He said he supports the Second Amendment but wants to see universal background checks and backs a proposal to ban the sale of assault-style weapons.
Is There a Blue Wave in Texas to Ride?
Another big challenge is the fact that O’Rourke is the only high-profile Democrat running for any statewide office. When asked about carrying the weight, he touted new names on the ticket.
“I think those net new candidates are bringing in net new voters, their family members, their classmates, their neighbors,” O’Rourke said.
Ted Cruz’s Counterpunch
While O’Rourke is showing he’s got the cash to compete, Cruz is painting his opponent as far too liberal for Texas.
“There are some in Washington who believe the right direction to go is more taxes, higher regulation, more debt, more government control,” Cruz told Capital Tonight recently.
O’Rourke said he would support raising taxes for the wealthy but improved public education, immigration reforms and affordable health care are not liberal issues.
“This state should take the lead on comprehensive, universal, guaranteed quality health care for each and every one of us. That is the connection to every other thing we want to be able to accomplish,” O’Rourke said.
Stay with Spectrum News for our in-depth Decision 2018 coverage, starting with a comprehensive breakdown of the primary runoff election on May 22, ongoing analysis of the issues important to you and everything you need to know about the Nov. 6 general election.