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Home | Tag Archives: beto o’rourke

Tag Archives: beto o’rourke

Op-Ed: Trump’s vision prevailed over Beto’s in El Paso

In the City of El Paso, two visions for the future of Texas and the future of America were on display, that of President Trump and that of former Congressman Robert Francis O’Rourke.

The President’s vision is based on reality and action; the other is based on myths and knee-jerk emotional reactions.

“We believe in the American Constitution and our great rule of law; we believe in the dignity of work and the sanctity of life; we believe that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American way,” President Trump told the people of El Paso at his rally Monday night. “We believe in religious liberty, the right to free speech, and the right to keep and bear arms. We believe that children should be taught to love our country, honor our incredible history, and always respect our great American flag. We believe that the first duty of government is to be loyal to its citizens, and we live by the words of our national motto… In God We Trust.”

In addition to listing the fundamental American values shared by Republicans and loathed by the extremist Democrat Party, the also President highlighted, in vivid and compelling terms, the urgent humanitarian and security crisis on the border, vowing that the wall will be built to protect American communities.

“This weekend some Democrats even proposed a measure that would force the release of thousands of criminal illegal aliens,” he noted, rattling off a series of shocking statistics on the thousands of violent criminals currently in ICE custody, “including dangerous felons convicted of rape, sex trafficking, violent assault, and even murder.”

“Beto,” on the other hand, pretended that there is absolutely no crisis on the border at all, accusing President Trump of “hatred and intolerance” for wanting to build the wall.

Of course, he also ignored the fact that President Trump is not against legal immigration, and only wants to stop people from cutting in line without going through the legal process.

There’s nothing in his self-indulgent protest rally that we haven’t already seen from Robert O’Rourke, who showed us he will still drone on at length about the plight of foreigners who are caught trying to evade our law enforcement and infiltrate our country, yet won’t so much as a make a phone call to American families from his own district who have lost loved ones to illegal alien crime.

He even made a call for full-scale amnesty, saying, “Make every single one them [Dreamers] U.S. citizens…and let’s make sure that their parents…have a path to citizenship.”

He insisted that illegal aliens are harmless, but then ignored the fact that his allies in Congress are pushing to force the government to release thousands of illegal aliens with criminal records from DHS custody into our communities.

In fact, he dismissed the whole idea that criminals are coming over our border at all, saying, “You know who we are apprehending? Kids, children…if they’re lucky, with their moms or their dads.”

In contrast, during the real rally Monday night in El Paso, President Trump delivered honest talk about the urgent crisis that demands a real, workable solution to secure the border.

O’Rourke can hand wave all he wants about how mean President Trump is, but he can’t deny that border walls have worked wonderfully in his own home town, and he can’t charm his way out of the fact that 89 percent of our Border Patrol agents agree with President Trump that more physical barriers are needed to secure hundreds more miles of strategic sections of the border.

There were two visions on display in El Paso: President Trump’s sincere desire to protect America, and Robert O’Rourke’s superficial appeal to the far-left Democrat base — and if the crowd sizes at the dueling rallies were any indication, the people of Texas stand firmly behind the winning vision of Donald Trump.

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Mica Mosbacher is the American author of The Hurricane Factor: Stormside Patriots and the memoir Racing Forward. She is a member of the National Advisory Board of Trump 2020, a political strategist and a frequent guest conservative commentator on Fox News, FBN, BBC World, BBC Newsday, TRT, ITN, LBC and CBC Radio, ITV.

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The El Paso Herald-Post welcomes guest columns, open letters, letters to the Editor and analysis pieces for publication, to submit a piece or for questions regarding guidelines, please email us at news@epheraldpost.com

Gallery+Story: Thousands ‘March for Truth’ in Response to President Trump’s Visit

Dressed in warm winter gear, and fighting wind and cold temperatures thousands drove, Ubered, Lyfted, and walked to gather next to Bowie High School, for the March for Truth -in protest of President Donald Trump’s visit to the borderland on Monday.

Many in the crowd held colorful signs that varied from Basta Trump (Stop Trump), to We Don’t Need a Border Wall. Others illustrated Trump’s hair disheveled by wind; and at the rendezvous point, at Chalio Acosta Park, a large inflated balloon showcased the president dressed in a clansman outfit.

The March for Truth, led by the El Paso Women’s March, in conjunction with the Border Network for Human Rights and 45 more organizations, began just a mile east from the El Paso County Coliseum, where President Donald Trump would make his appearance.

With the backdrop of the U.S. Border behind them; and the sunset of the Franklin Mountains in front former U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke and newly elected U.S. Congresswoman Veronica Escobar spoke to the crowd.

“We have had a difficult two years El Paso,” Escobar said. “We have been at the center of the politics of cruelty. Politics that have ripped children from the arms of their mothers. Politics that have been preventing asylum seekers from seeking refuge on this very soil. Politics of cruelty that have imprisoned children in Tornillo. And are we angry? You’re damn right we are angry.”

Cheers and applause erupted.

Additional speakers at the March included former State Senator Wendy Davis; Fernando Garcia, Executive Director of the Border Network for Human Rights; Ruben Garcia, Director of the Annunciation House; Linda Rivas, and Claudia Yoli Ferla, a DACA Dreamer who was brought here illegally as a child by her mother in the hopes of seeking a better life.

“In El Paso she was a waitress, a cook, a dishwasher a caregiver, a school crossing guard – you name it,” Ferla said. “She was everything and anything she needed to be proudly so that I could be provided with a normal childhood despite being undocumented. […]So when this man (Trump), comes into mine, yours and our community, to tell us everything like lies and hate – I am reminded of the root of my power – my mother’s love. My mother’s dreams. And together in comunidad we have the power to also fight back – because when they hurt one of us – they hurt all of us.”

With the crowd pumped, event speakers led the march down Delta Drive, and into Chalio Acosta Park where mariachis and several other musicians welcomed the large crowd.  Then, O’Rourke took the stage.

“The city has been one of the safest in the United States of America,” He said. “For 20 years and counting it was safe long before a wall was built here in 2008. In fact, a little less safe after the wall was built. We can show, as we make our stand here together tonight, that walls do not make us safer. Walls will require us to take someone’s property – their house, their farm, their ranch. We know that walls do not save lives. Walls end lives.”

In his speech, O’Rourke mentioned the history of El Paso, including the story of Thelma White, who was denied admission into Texas Western University in 1954 because she was black. White hired attorney Thurgood Marshall, and in 1955 U.S. District Judge R.E. Thomason ruled in favor or white, allowing her and in turn – other black students admission to higher education in El Paso.

O’Rouke told the story of the 1949 Bowie Bears Baseball Team who won the championship in Austin after witnessing racism at the hotels and restaurants; He told the story of World War I Veteran Marcelino Serna, a U.S. Army Pvt, who became a U.S. citizen in 1924.

Serna was the first Hispanic to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The port of entry between Tornillo and Guadalupe Mexico was named in his honor. O’Rourke then pointed to the park across the way, named after the World War II Veterans Company E – many of them who were seniors from Bowie High school who served in France, Italy and North Africa.

“Here in the largest bi-national community, in the western hemisphere, 2.5 million people; two countries; speaking two languages and two cultures and two histories – who come together and are joined – not separated – by the Rio Grande River. We are forming something far greater and more powerful than the sum of people; or the sum of our parts. We have so much to give and so much to show the rest of the country and we are doing it right now.”

Just after 7 p.m., through gusts of wind, President Trump’s introductory song, the Rolling Stone’s, “Sympathy for the Devil,” could be heard. It was followed by Trump’s voice that echoed and the cheers and shouts could be heard from the inside the El Paso County Coliseum just a short distance away.

O’Rourke and march supporters were not deterred as they cheered and chanted, “Si se Puede,” and “Beto! Beto!” and “USA! USA!” O’Rourke then called for immigration reform to include safety for asylum seekers, citizenship for Dreamers and their parents, investment in better infrastructure for the personnel and the ports of entry.

Both the march and the rally come days after President Trump incorrectly claimed during the State of the Union on February 7, after it was delayed a week due to the Government shutdown, that El Paso was considered at one point, “one of our Nation’s most dangerous cities” and that the Border Wall El Paso was now one of the safest cities in nation.

The border wall that Trump referred to as a recent barrier in his State of the Union, was a bipartisan decision made in 2006, during the George W. Bush Administration.

The Secure Fence Act of 2006 replaced wired fencing along Tecate and Calexico, California; Douglas, Ariz., Columbus, New Mexico to ten miles east of El Paso, Texas; and Del Rio, Texas to five miles southeast of Eagle Pass, Texas; and 15 miles northwest of Laredo, Texas to Brownsville Texas.

The act also called for ground-sensors, satellites, radar coverage and additional means of technology with the use of more effective personnel along the southern border.

Additionally, El Paso was considered among the safest cities in the nation prior to the implementation of the Secure Fence Act according to FBI crime statistics.

Photos by author & Steven Cottingham – El Paso Herald Post

Gallery+Video+Info: President Trump’s Rally, March for Truth, O’Rourke’s Speech

As President Donald J. Trump visited El Paso for a rally at the County Coliseum and 40+ groups, Veronica Escobar, Beto O’Rourke held a march in response; we here at the El Paso Herald Post provided coverage of both events.

Archived streams for both President Trump’s remarks, as well as those by the invited guests of the rally are available below.

A full gallery of both events is updated and live as well.

Crew: Darren Hunt & Andres Acosta
Crew: Alex Hinojosa and Steven Cottingham

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of 135p: El Paso Trump supporters chanting ‘USA!’ while waiting in line.

Mariachis performing at ‘March for Truth’

Slideshow of O’Rouke speaking at “March for Truth” Rally

Story in Many Pics: 2019 Women’s March El Paso

Under a crystal-clear West Texas sky, El Pasoans gathered to march through Downtown El Paso as part of the nation-wide Women’s March.

With scores of groups from different walks of life, the participants were entertained by dancing groups, musical performances and informed about topics, with keynote speaker Congresswoman Veronica Escobar capping the event.  Her predecessor, Beto O’Rourke and wife Amy were also in attendance.

As part of our coverage, photographer Ruben R. Ramirez captured the events and we bring you his view of the march with this ‘Story in Many Pics.’

Over 1,000 women, men and children gathered Saturday morning for the 2019 Women’s March held at San Jacinto Plaza. Speakers, music and other entertainment was provided before and after the march.

Gallery courtesy Ruben R. Ramirez – Special to the El Paso Herald Post

 

 

Beto O’Rourke’s Immigration Plan: No Wall, but Few Specifics

In a digital ad that recently went viral, Beto O’Rourke tore into President Trump’s desired border wall with soaring footage of the Rio Grande Valley and an explanation of what the wall would do: cut off access to the river, shrink the size of the United States and force the seizure of privately-held land.

It noted that most undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States in the past decade came not over the border but on visas that then expired.

So what should be done to address visa overstays?

“I don’t know,” O’Rourke said, pausing in a lengthy interview.

O’Rourke, who represented a border district in the House for six years, talked through the issue and came up with a possible solution: The United States could harmonize its visa system with Mexico’s to keep better track of who is coming into the country and leaving it.

“That’s an answer,” he said, “but that’s something that we should be debating.”

When it comes to many of the biggest policy issues facing the country today, O’Rourke’s default stance is to call for a debate — even on issues related to the border and immigration, which he has heavily emphasized in videos posted to Facebook and Instagram over the past month.

O’Rourke’s approach reflects how he is likely to handle issues should he launch a presidential campaign. Beyond a few mainstream Democratic stances — including closing private immigration prisons, allowing undocumented immigrants to become citizens and modernizing the work visa system — O’Rourke insists the thorny immigration answers will come from everyday Americans. It’s an approach that puts off specifics that might define him or narrow his appeal in a presidential race — but O’Rourke says he is being open-minded, as he wishes more politicians would be.

“That’s a problem when you’re like, ‘It will be a wall,’ or ‘It will be this,’ or ‘We can only do it with this,’” O’Rourke said when asked why he doesn’t have firm stances. “The genius is we can nonviolently resolve our differences, though I won’t get to my version of perfect or I, working with you, will get to something better than what we have today . . . It’s rare that someone’s ever been able to impose their will unilaterally in this country. We don’t want that.”

He insists that once Americans are informed about “the facts and the story and the information and the opportunity,” they will come to the right conclusions about what to do about an issue that has divided the country for decades.

“I trust the wisdom of people. And I’m confident — especially after having traveled Texas for two years — people are good, fundamentally, and if given the choice to do the right thing, they will. To do the good thing, they will,” he said, referring to his unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign while giving a walking tour of El Paso and its Mexican sister city, Juarez.

On other issues, his approach was similar.

When asked whether he agrees with Trump’s plan to quickly withdraw troops from Syria, O’Rourke said he would like to see “a debate, a discussion, a national conversation about why we’re there, why we fight, why we sacrifice the lives of American service members, why we’re willing to take the lives of others” in all the countries where the U.S. is involved.

“There may be a very good reason to do it. I don’t necessarily understand — and I’ve been a member of Congress for six years,” O’Rourke said. “We haven’t had a meaningful discussion about these wars since 2003.”

Asked about the “Green New Deal” being crafted by Democrats to dramatically curb climate change emissions and heavily invest in clean-energy jobs and infrastructure, he praised it as a “bold” start that avoided “wishy-washy change.”

The details are apt to change, he said, adding, “But, thank God the work has been done to articulate the goal, the vision, the means to achieve it, and that’s a perfect point from which to start a conversation.”

As O’Rourke’s decision on a presidential campaign nears, immigration is the issue in which he has chosen to invest his time — putting him directly at odds with President Trump, against whom the next Democratic nominee will compete.

For all his current focus on the border, O’Rourke played a negligible role in shaping immigration policy during his six years in Congress, which ended this month. Even now, he rarely uses his expanding national platform to call for specific legislation or transformative changes in the immigration system.

He said he believes that the border is already fully secured and that further investment would take it even further “past the point of diminishing returns,” pushing migrants seeking to cross the border illegally into more dangerous and desolate territory.

“You will ensure death,” he said of Trump’s proposed wall. “You and I, as Americans, have caused the deaths of others through these walls.”

Just as Trump has used the heart-wrenching stories of Americans murdered by undocumented immigrants to build support for his wall, O’Rourke leans on a narrative of migrants and those living along the border. In his unsuccessful race for the Senate last year, O’Rourke frequently compared Central American migrants fleeing violence and poverty to Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis and being refused entry into many countries, including the United States.

Luis Gutierrez, the former Democratic congressman from Illinois who spearheaded immigration measures in the House for many years, said he was “very pleasantly surprised” to see O’Rourke suddenly interested in immigration last year. Even though O’Rourke represented a majority Hispanic district along the border, he was not deeply involved with immigration reform, Gutierrez said. But he praised O’Rourke for his recent efforts to demystify the border and bring attention to immigration issues.

“A lot of people want to talk about where people start,” he said, “and I like to talk about where people are at.”

The last major attempt at a sweeping immigration package came just after O’Rourke took office. In June 2013, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill that would have allowed millions of undocumented immigrants to legally stay in the United States and eventually become citizens. It also would have doubled the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents along the southern border and authorized 700 miles of fencing.

O’Rourke said at the time that he supported “a pathway to citizenship for immigrants that pay their taxes, obey our laws and learn English,” but he opposed efforts to “militarize our border against a threat that does not exist.”

Then-House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) refused to take up the Senate’s immigration bill, at which point, O’Rourke said, the issue died.

“We could have these discussions in caucus meetings, but it’s like spitting in the wind if [Republican lawmakers] are not going to actually engage in the conversation,” O’Rourke said. “There was a huge missed opportunity, which created the opportunity — in some ways — for Trump.”

O’Rourke is trying to undo Trump’s image of the border by showing Americans what he sees.

In the past month, he has introduced his followers to migrant families just released from detention centers, broadcast a rally held outside a tent camp that once housed thousands of detained migrant children and showed the numbers written on the wrists of Guatemalan migrants waiting their turn to claim asylum in the United States. He has taken his followers along on a late-night walk through his historic El Paso neighborhood and a Saturday night trip to Juarez for dinner with his family.

He has interviewed his neighbors — and, rather famously, his dental hygienist during a cleaning — about life on the border, reinforcing their feeling of safety in a zone the president has condemned as crime-ridden.

After Trump spoke to the nation about his demand for border wall funding in exchange for reopening the government, O’Rourke aired, to thousands, a conversation with two close friends discussing the president’s messaging.

“He has seized this emotional language very effectively — completely irresponsibly, not tethered to the truth,” O’Rourke said. “But if I don’t live in El Paso, if I haven’t had the experience that we have, if I live in Michigan, Iowa, Oregon, the northern border, I may not know any better . . . The president of the United States just said that there are rapists and criminals and murderers who will chop your head off coming to get us . . . And so I can see responding that way.”

Throughout the two-hour interview — which was often interrupted by bystanders urging him to run for president — O’Rourke boomeranged between a bright-eyed hope that the United States will soon dramatically change its approach to a whole host of issues and a dismal suspicion that the country is now incapable of implementing sweeping change.

When asked which it is, O’Rourke paused.

“I’m hesitant to answer it because I really feel like it deserves its due, and I don’t want to give you a — actually, just selfishly, I don’t want a sound bite of it reported, but, yeah, I think that’s the question of the moment: Does this still work?” O’Rourke said. “Can an empire like ours with military presence in over 170 countries around the globe, with trading relationships . . . and security agreements in every continent, can it still be managed by the same principles that were set down 230-plus years ago?”

O’Rourke doesn’t yet know the answer, but he’s ready to discuss it.

Author: BY JENNA JOHNSON, THE WASHINGTON POST /The Texas Tribune

Julián Castro’s 2020 Announcement Brightens Spotlight on Potential Texas Showdown with Beto O’Rourke

SAN ANTONIO — Lingering around after Julián Castro announced his presidential campaign here Saturday, Santa Garcia Rivera and her niece, Santa Garcia Reyes, said they were thrilled to see someone from the city’s hardscrabble West Side reach for the highest office in the country. But they also expressed some ambivalence as they sized up a potential 2020 presidential field that could include another Texas Democrat: Beto O’Rourke.

“It’s really tough,” said Garcia Reyes, a 45-year-old education specialist for Early Head Start. “I think they have a lot of the same values.”

Ultimately, Garcia Reyes said, “my loyalty is going to be to Julián… just seeing that he’s never forgot about the people here in San Antonio.” Her aunt, however, seemed less sure which Texan would end up earning her vote if they both run.

Such mixed feelings are not uncommon among Texas Democrats, who could end up with two of their own running in 2020. O’Rourke’s closer-than-expected loss to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz last year made him a national star, eclipsing Castro’s longtime status — along with his brother — as Texas Democrats’ best hope. Now, all eyes are on whether O’Rourke will ride the momentum to a 2020 bid of his own and officially test the loyalties of people like Garcia Rivera and her niece.

As O’Rourke’s 2020 buzz has intensified — with early polls showing him far outranking his fellow Texan — Castro has said there is enough room in the race for both of them. And both have said the other’s plans will not affect theirs.

All this is unfolding as delegate-rich Texas is poised to have considerable influence in the 2020 nominating process with its early March primary — a high-stakes moment if the two Texans make can it there.

O’Rourke does not appear to be in a rush to make a 2020 decision and is not expected to make one until February at the earliest. In the meantime, every move he makes is drawing intense attention — from the videos he has tweeted out arguing against President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall to his Instagram posts Thursday from the dentist’s chair. Media mogul Oprah Winfrey announced Friday that she will interview O’Rourke on Feb. 5 in New York City, an event guaranteed to captivate the political world.

Castro and O’Rourke are not particularly close but have appeared friendly in public, and Castro and his brother, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, joined O’Rourke on the campaign trail during the closing weeks of the U.S. Senate race. The brothers’ political paths also intersected with O’Rourke’s in the first few months of 2017, when Joaquin Castro mulled a U.S. Senate run at the same time O’Rourke did. Joaquin Castro ultimately passed on the Senate bid, announcing his decision about a month after O’Rourke launched his campaign.

Speaking before his brother Saturday, Joaquin Castro said there will be “a lot of great candidates” in the presidential race — many of them friends the brothers respect — “but I know we have the best candidate with the best ideas and the biggest heart.” Joaquin Castro told reporters afterward he was not concerned about a potential O’Rourke candidacy.

“All of the candidates who are going to enter this race — there’s something good about everybody, so [Julián]’s just gonna go and do the hard work of focusing on his vision and getting his message out to people,” Joaquin Castro said, “and we understand it’s a competition obviously and it’s a race, but you really can’t focus on what other people are doing.”

Asked what his message was for conflicted Texas Democrats, Joaquin Castro said, “I would ask them to follow their heart and their mind.”

Some Texas Democrats are not waiting on O’Rourke’s decision to give their unequivocal backing to Julián Castro. Among them is freshman state Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, who was the first introductory speaker Saturday. Talarico recalled his experience teaching middle school on San Antonio’s West Side while Castro was the city’s mayor, pushing an education-centric agenda. In an interview afterward, Talarico said it was seeing Castro’s leadership “up close and personal in San Antonio” that led him to offer him his “full, complete endorsement for 2020.”

“I’m a huge fan of Congressman O’Rourke, he campaigned with me, his campaign was hugely helpful in our race, he would make an incredible president, but just my history has been with Secretary Castro,” Talarico said. “No matter who else runs, he’s gonna be my candidate.”

Talarico was joined in the lineup by a second state representative, Diego Bernal, a longtime friend of the Castros. And in another show of support among House Democrats, state Rep. Poncho Nevárez of Eagle Pass tweeted Friday that he was “all in” for Julián Castro.

Other Democrats are keeping their powder dry for now, reiterating how much of a net positive it is for Texas to have two Democrats in the 2020 mix.

“I grew up here and never in my lifetime has Texas been a battleground state,” said Sri Preston Kulkarni, a former congressional candidate from the Houston suburbs who attended Castro’s announcement. “Texas is a battleground state right now, and the energy, the excitement here — to see so many people coming out for a Texas Democrat running for president — that’s huge.”

Texas Democratic up-and-comers like Kulkarni face something of a conundrum when it comes to making a decision about who to support in 2020. Castro donated to their campaigns through his Opportunity First PAC and stumped for them. O’Rourke, meanwhile, gave them speaking time at his massively attended events and had an impact on their margins with his closer-than-expected loss at the top of the ticket.

Castro used his Opportunity First PAC to endorse over two dozen candidates last cycle in Texas, including the two biggest winners: Colin Allred, who unseated U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas, and Lizzie Fletcher, who beat U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston. Castro was especially involved with Allred, who worked under Castro at HUD, backing him early on in what became a crowded primary.

Allred has not shied away from Castro’s 2020 maneuvering in recent weeks, issuing a supportive statement when he formed an exploratory committee a month ago, sending a fundraising email for the committee and talking him up during a recent Sunday show appearance.

“Well, I certainly like my former boss, Julián Castro, who is a friend of mine and a mentor of mine,” Allred said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” adding, “we have a lot of political talent in Texas.”

For those trying to imagine what it would be like to have both Texas Democrats in the race, Castro’s Saturday announcement was instructive. He appeared to speak from a teleprompter, the lineup of introductory speakers was carefully curated to highlight his accomplishments and campaign surrogates were made available to the media afterward — all contrasts with the freewheeling, unvarnished style of O’Rourke’s 2018 U.S. Senate run.

To political observers, Julián Castro’s announcement speech invoked O’Rourke’s 2018 bid in at least one way: Castro vowed not to take campaign contributions from PACs, a hallmark of O’Rourke’s run. The promise, which Castro has been making for about a month now, was among the bigger applause lines as he spoke at the West Side’s historic Plaza Guadalupe.

Texas Republicans, for their part, were happy to stoke divisions between Castro and O’Rourke on Saturday. On a conference call with reporters before Castro’s announcement, Texas GOP Chairman James Dickey said the soon-to-be candidate was “absolutely” grappling with having his spotlight stolen by O’Rourke.

“As someone who made it obvious for a long time that he felt like he had a right to go for the presidency, he’s got to be incredibly miffed at how quickly… the void of absence was filled during the last two years,” Dickey said.

Author: PATRICK SVITEK – The Texas Tribune

Beto O’Rourke. Julián Castro. John Cornyn. 2020 Already Looms Large in Texas

Like it or not, the 2020 election cycle has already arrived in Texas.

Votes were still being tallied in the November 6 midterm elections as the state’s Democrats began considering how they could build on their gains in two years, further loosening the GOP’s longtime grip on state government. Heartened by Beto O’Rourke’s surprisingly close race against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and the down-ballot victories that accompanied it, Texas Democrats are now looking toward 2020 to put an exclamation point on the state’s shift to a more competitive political environment.

“Turning Texas blue is not an event, it’s a process,” state Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in an interview, “and I think 2020 will put us, if not blue, purple — deep purple.”

In the past — especially after the last midterms, when another Democratic star, Wendy Davis, lost to Gov. Greg Abbott in a landslide — such talk has drawn scoffs from Republicans who maintained the state remained solidly red. But in the wake of last week’s elections, the state’s Republicans have been striking a different tone, well aware of the challenge forming in 2020 — a presidential election year — if Democrats are able to make the progress they did last week in a midterm.

“I’m encouraging every Republican activist, donor, candidate and officeholder to take very, very seriously the need to earn and get every vote possible for 2020 starting now,” Hinojosa’s GOP counterpart, James Dickey, said in an interview. “The candidates and officeholders and activists that we work with have been preparing for — and prepared to battle for — 2020 for over a year and a half now, and the urgency that we all have felt about preparing diligently for 2020 was reinforced by last week’s results.”

When the dust settled on election night, O’Rourke lost to Cruz by less than 3 percentage points, and Democrats picked up two U.S. House seats, two state Senate seats and a dozen state House seats. There also was a notable shift in the political landscape, with Democrats further fortifying their hold on big-city counties and making serious inroads into traditionally Republican suburban counties.

Looking toward 2020, Dickey identified a few areas of particular focus for the state party, saying it is “continuing to expand our efforts in urban and suburban areas and with the demographic groups that we have not yet successfully reached with our message.”

If there is one thing Texas Republicans are taking heart in as they approach 2020, it is that the state will no longer have straight-ticket voting, which Republicans in the state’s big-city counties blamed for their massive losses on Nov. 6. Last year, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill to get rid of the straight-ticket voting option — but not until September 2020.

“In the next election, every candidate will win or lose based on their record and the platform they put forward to voters,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick assured supporters in a post-election message. “This will give us better leaders and better government.”

Still, Texas Democrats see a golden opportunity on the horizon. There will be a galvanizing Republican at the top of the ticket nationally, the higher turnout that comes with a presidential election and an anticipated recruitment boon after the unexpected success that so many candidates experienced this time. Maybe, just maybe, they think, the state could be up for grabs in the White House race: Donald Trump only won it by 9 points in 2016, the narrowest margin in two decades, then O’Rourke finished just 2.6 points behind Cruz. Maybe a Texan will be on the Democratic ticket, too.

Texas hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president since Jimmy Carter in 1976. The last time both parties made a serious play for the state’s electoral votes was in 1996, when President Bill Clinton campaigned here for his re-election ahead of Election Day. Bob Dole won the state by 4.9 percentage points.

The possibility of a serious role for Texas in the 2020 presidential contest is already being discussed in Washington. During a post-election briefing with reporters in the nation’s capital, a top Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA Action, presented a slideshow that suggested up to 15 states could be in play in 2020, with the states sorted into three categories: “Core,” “Expansion” and “Watch.” Texas was listed under “Watch.”

Much of the immediate speculation about 2020 in Texas has centered on O’Rourke, who was being discussed as a potential presidential candidate even before he reached the finish line in the Senate race. While running against Cruz, he denied interest in a White House bid. Since then, he has not said what he plans to do next beyond spending more time with his family and then starting to think about what he learned from his Senate campaign. But that has not stopped the 2020 drumbeat surrounding him. A poll released last week pegged him as Democratic voters’ No. 3 pick among possible contenders, and a cryptic blog post Thursday about running — a morning jog, that is — stirred speculation anew.

If O’Rourke runs for president, he would have to contend with another Texan who has been preparing for a likely White House bid for nearly two years: Julían Castro, the former U.S. housing secretary and San Antonio mayor. People close to Castro have been saying an O’Rourke run would not change his plans, a point Castro himself made Friday to the Associated Press. Castro, who said last month he is “likely” to make a White House bid, intends to make an announcement about his plans in early 2019.

Instead of running for president in 2020, some Texas Democrats would like O’Rourke to take on U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who will be at the top of the ballot in two years. But privately, O’Rourke has not expressed interest in challenging Cornyn, according to his inner circle.

Among O’Rourke’s biggest fans, the prospect of a presidential run appears far more appealing.

“I think there need to be good challengers in 2020 for the Senate seat, but I also really feel that the country needs a moral leader right now in the Oval Office — that office has been dragged to such horrible depths and with that our county has been dragged to such horrible depths — that we need someone to uplift, unify and inspire, and I know for certain Beto can do that,” said Veronica Escobar, who is replacing O’Rourke in the U.S. House and said she has not talked with him since Nov. 6 about his future plans.

To put it mildly, Cornyn would be a much different opponent for O’Rourke, and not just because the state’s senior senator is not as polarizing a figure as Cruz is. During his 2018 campaign, O’Rourke regularly talked up his work with Cornyn in Congress and pointed to him as the kind of Republican he could collaborate with if elected to the upper chamber.

Nonetheless, Democrats are already targeting Cornyn. Hinojosa said it was no secret that the state party struggled to recruit some statewide candidates in 2018, but he expects that the strides the party made on Nov. 6 will spur previously reluctant Democrats to step up in 2020, with the race to unseat Cornyn serving as the prime beneficiary. Hinojosa guaranteed the party will field a “strong candidate” against Cornyn, noting it is “already getting phone calls from some major players.”

O’Rourke “established a baseline that’s far higher, and now we build on it,” the national Democratic Party chairman, Tom Perez, said during a post-election discussion with reporters in Washington, D.C. “If the question is, ‘Are we going to compete in the Texas Senate race in 2020?’, the answer is, ‘Hell yeah.'”

A Cornyn spokesman referred to comments the senator made two days after the midterm elections in which he said he intends “to be ready and do my homework” for 2020.

O’Rourke is not the only statewide candidate from Nov. 6 who is already coming up in 2020 conversations. Kim Olson, the fiery Democrat who finished five points behind Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, has been punctuating her post-election social media posts with the hashtag “#kim2020,” and a spokeswoman for Olson said she is “currently exploring all opportunities to determine the best way to continue serving Texas and Texans.”

At the congressional level, the next cycle is also already looming large.

Democrats picked up two seats on Nov. 6, dislodging Republican U.S. Reps. John Culberson of Houston and Pete Sessions of Dallas. But they also came surprisingly close in several districts that were once considered far out of reach, and the Democratic nominees in those races emerged as local rock stars who are already being encouraged to try again in 2020. That is even before any retirement announcements from GOP incumbents who may not be game for another competitive race in 2020.

Among the rising stars are Sri Preston Kulkarni, a former diplomat who came within five points of taking out U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, R-Sugar Land. In a message to supporters the weekend after the election, Kulkarni acknowledged that the 2020 discussion was already taking shape, saying that many people have asked him to run again for the seat but he is “not ready to commit to that yet.”

Then there is MJ Hegar, the former military pilot who gained a national fanbase taking on U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, and finished just 3 points behind him. In a post-election interview, she noted that even her most loyal supporters told her from the start that it would be a “two-cycle race” to win the seat.

“I’ve been approached by a lot of different people to run for a variety of different offices … and I’m still considering the best way to serve my community,” Hegar said. Running for the congressional seat again, she added, is “one of the options I’m considering.”

Farther down the ballot, Democrats are already setting their sights on capturing the state House majority in 2020 — a huge prize ahead of the next redistricting round. They made significant progress on Nov. 6, flipping a dozen seats and growing their ranks from 55 members to 67. That means Democrats are entering the 2020 cycle nine seats removed from the majority — well within reach, according to Democrats inside and outside Texas.

“Democrats are now in striking distance of flipping the Texas Legislature in 2020, with the potential to upend the entire national redistricting process,” said Ben Wexler-Waite, a spokesman for a super PAC, Forward Majority, that poured $2.2 million into 32 Texas House races in their closing days.

The contours of the state House battlefield for Democrats in 2020 are already coming into focus. Beyond the 12 seats they picked up, there were several more where the Democratic nominee came within just a few points — or even closer. Adam Milasincic, who lost by just 47 votes to state Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston, is already promising an “announcement about 2020” in the coming months.

In the state Senate, the path to the majority for Democrats appears for now to be more challenging. But they have at least one clear target already: state Sen. Pete Flores, the Pleasanton Republican who upset Democrat Pete Gallego in the September special election for Senate District 19.

Author: PATRICK SVITEK – The Texas Tribune

The View and Voices of Election Night 2018 in El Paso

The distance was several hundred feet, the difference of tens of thousands of votes in the races and the emotions were on opposite sides of the spectrum in Downtown El Paso on Election Night.

While the Veronica Escobar faithful celebrated her victory in the race for the 16th Congressional Seat, just down the block, scores of Beto O’Rourke supporters leaned on each other as their hopes for a victory in the Texas Senate race faded like an opposing team’s home run leaving Southwest University Park, as Senator Ted Cruz claimed victory.

Below are some of the sights and sounds of Tuesday night’s largest parties, thanks to Herald Post staff members Andra Litton, Steven Cottingham and Andres ‘Ace’ Acosta.  (Also special shoutout to Duke Keith for letting us embed the special he did for 550 KTSA below the gallery)

 

Beto Rally Readies for Pols & Partiers

Got to do some radio news tonight for the Alamo City. Thanks to KTSA-AM and News Director Dennis Foley for allowing me to part of their election night coverage from Beto O'Rourke's rally at Southwest University Park.The game has changed a bit since I started at KTAM-KORA in beautiful Bryan-College Station back in the late 1980's – social media means video. Here's a short piece I did before they opened the park.550 KTSA Congressman Beto O'Rourke

Posted by Duke Keith on Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Ted Cruz Defeats Beto O’Rourke in Re-Election Fight

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, narrowly defeated Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke Tuesday evening in what appeared likely to be one of the closest U.S Senate races in Texas in decades.

With more than 60 percent of precincts reporting in Texas, Cruz had a four-point lead over O’Rourke.

While Cruz had a strong showing across most of rural Texas, O’Rourke narrowed the margin by winning urban counties and coming within striking distance in some Texas suburbs.

Graphic courtesy Texas Tribune

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delivering his victory speech at about 10 p.m., Cruz cast the race in dramatic terms, saying it was not about either candidate but a “battle of ideas” and a “contest for who we are and what we believe in.”

“This was an election about hope and about the future of Texas,” Cruz said, “and the people of Texas rendered a verdict that we want a future with more jobs and more security and more freedom.”

Cruz thanked O’Rourke, saying he “poured his heart” into the campaign and “worked tirelessly,” making sacrifices as a father. Acknowledging that “millions across this state were inspired by his campaign,” Cruz appealed to O’Rourke’s supporters, saying he wanted to represent them too.

Cruz did not hold back about the challenge he said he faced, though.

“We saw an assault that was unprecedented,” Cruz said. “We saw a $100 million race with Hollywood coming in against the state, with the national media coming in against the state. But all the money in the world was no match for the good people of Texas and the hard work.”

Cruz’s speech followed a three-hour roller-coaster for those watching results trickle in, as Cruz and O’Rourke repeatedly traded narrow leads.

At about 9:25 p.m., Cruz’s supporters at his Election Night party in a Houston hotel broke out in cheers and a chant of “Cruuuz!” as Fox News called the race for him. “We want Ted!” supporters shouted as they moved closer to the stage, hoping to hear from the victor.

It was a dramatic shift from shortly before 9 p.m., when Cruz’s chief strategist, Jeff Roe, took the stage to address concerned supporters looking at returns that showed O’Rourke in reach of a historic upset. Roe told them “everything’s good” and said the campaign expected Cruz’s lead to grow once the results in more rural counties came in.

“Anybody that’s really clenched — you can release a little bit — it’s OK,” Roe said, suggesting he nonetheless expected to be “in for a little bit of a night.”

The mood at the O’Rourke election night party in El Paso was upbeat well into the evening. But the mood quickly soured once it became clear that most news outlets had called the race in favor of Cruz.

“I’m very surprised. I’m very disappointed,” said 80-year-old Olivia Lara, an O’Rourke supporter who said she votes in every election. “He worked so hard. It’s very sad for El Paso.”

Cruz supporters acknowledged being spooked as the first early vote results came in, giving O’Rourke a lead.

“At first I was a little worried, but we knew that after the big cities were done, that the rural counties would pull us in,” said Mike Diaz, a 39-year-old engineer from Cypress.

As for the closer-than-usual margin of victory for a statewide Texas Republican, Diaz and other Cruz backers chalked it up to financial firepower that O’Rourke brought to the race.

“It was a good, hard-fought battle, but they dumped so much money and so much advertising — they made it close,” Diaz said.

The race between Cruz and O’Rourke emerged in recent months as the hottest in the country during this midterm election season, as O’Rourke, a relatively unknown congressman just two years ago, cobbled together the most competitive statewide campaign by a Texas Democrat in over a decade. As Election Day drew closer and polls suggested a tightening race, Democratic hopes abounded that O’Rourke was cracking the code: energizing long-beleaguered Texas Democrats, expanding the electorate and putting himself in position to be the first of them to win statewide office in over two decades.

After making little secret of his intentions for months, O’Rourke entered the race on the last day of March 2017, announcing his campaign alongside his wife in El Paso. He laid down some early markers, promising to run a positive campaign, not accept PAC money and eschew pollsters and consultants.

For a period, the prospect of a competitive primary loomed as U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio considered a run as well. But about a month after O’Rourke launched his bid, Castro passed on a run, giving O’Rourke a relatively clear shot at the nomination.

O’Rourke immediately got to work on an ambitious goal: visiting all 254 counties of Texas. That push defined much of the first half of his campaign as he racked up thousands of miles holding town halls throughout the state, building the case that he would be the senator who would show up for all of Texas.

Heading into the March 6 primary, there was little concern O’Rourke would dominate in his first statewide test. But he received an underwhelming 62 percent of the vote, with most of the rest going to two unknown candidates. He also lost a number of heavily Hispanic counties in South Texas, auguring concerns about his ability to turn out the demographic long believed to be key to a Democratic revival in the state.

The night of the primary was notable for another reason: Cruz abruptly went on the offensive against O’Rourke after months of largely ignoring him. In a conference call shortly before polls closed, Cruz unloaded on O’Rourke as too liberal for Texas, and in an ad released later that night, mocked him for using the nickname “Beto” when his legal name is Robert Francis. (“Beto” is a Spanish nickname that the congressman has gone by since his youth.)

The following month, Cruz formally launched his re-election bid with a focus on extolling Lone Star State exceptionalism — especially in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. It was an ostensibly unifying message that complemented Cruz’s new campaign slogan — “Tough as Texas” — and punctuated a period of home-state re-engagement following his unsuccessful 2016 presidential campaign.

O’Rourke pressed forward with his 254-county tour. He completed it on June 9 in Gainesville, the seat of Cooke County, and did not let up afterward, continuing to keep an aggressive travel schedule that attracted growing national spotlight. It only grew brighter by mid-August, when O’Rourke’s remarks at a town hall defending NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem went viral.

By late summer, the mood of the race started to change. Things were tightening, according to surveys, and national Republicans began to develop some concern that it was getting too close for comfort.

The alarm was not helped by O’Rourke’s massive fundraising, which poured in online. He was outraising Cruz period after period, and he posted an astonishing $38 million in the third quarter of 2018 — a new record for the biggest fundraising quarter ever in a U.S. Senate race.

The GOP calvary began to mobilize. The Club for Growth, a conservative group that was critical to Cruz’s 2012 election, announced it would spend seven figures to help fend off O’Rourke, and a parade of high-profile surrogates began to form.

None, of course, was more high-profile than President Donald Trump, who Cruz bitterly battled in the fight for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. At the end of August, the president took to Twitter to announce he would headline a rally for Cruz in October — and he wanted to do it in the “biggest stadium” he could find in Texas. The two ended up reuniting on the first day of early voting — Oct. 22 — at the Toyota Center in Houston, where the president made clear they had buried the hatchet from 2016 and happily attacked O’Rourke as a “stone-cold phony.”

The fall also saw two debates between Cruz and O’Rourke, the product of grueling, months-long negotiations between the two sides. Meeting first in Dallas, O’Rourke displayed a more aggressive approach to Cruz, but it still left some supporters unsatisfied, especially as O’Rourke was getting buried by attack ads on TV while running exclusively positive spots. So in the second debate, held in San Antonio, O’Rourke swung harder at Cruz — to the point of adopting Trump’s old nickname for the senator: “Lyin’ Ted.”

Strategically, it was a pivotal moment for O’Rourke, and it was followed the next morning by the launch of three TV ads criticizing Cruz, a test of O’Rourke’s longtime vow to take the high road. Around the time, Cruz was riding high off the GOP enthusiasm generated by anger over Brett Kavanuagh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, and he gleefully portrayed O’Rourke’s new tack as the hallmark of a flailing candidate.

But Cruz’s high was not forever. Polls suggested his lead began to narrow again during early voting, which itself was a key moment. Turnout was comparable to that of a presidential election year, with nearly 5 million Texans voting early in the 30 Texas counties where most registered voters in the state live.

Earlier at O’Rourke’s election night party, some were already preparing for Cruz’s eventual victory, predicting that O’Rourke’s bid will likely be viewed as having paved the way for a future Democrat to win statewide.

“Even if he doesn’t get over the finish line, he’s laid a foundation we can build upon,” said Julián Castro, the former U.S. housing secretary and San Antonio mayor.

At one point later in the evening, a cover band played “Don’t Stop Believin’.”

Julian Aguilar contributed to this report.

Read related Tribune coverage

Authors:  ABBY LIVINGSTON AND PATRICK SVITEK – The Texas Tribune

Ted Cruz, Beto O’Rourke Entered Congress at Same Time; Here’s What They Have Accomplished

Since launching his bid for U.S. Senate last year, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke has painted Republican incumbent Ted Cruz as a senator whose national ambitions have distracted him from his Texas duties. Cruz has questioned what accomplishments the congressman from El Paso has to his name.

How exactly do the two men’s records stack up? Their legislative achievements are easy to compare, given that both men entered Congress on the same day — Jan. 3, 2013.

They both joined chambers out of their party’s control. Two years later, the Republicans regained control of the Senate, while the Democrats maintained their minority status in the House — as would be the case for all of O’Rourke’s three terms.

Since the pair entered Congress, Cruz has introduced 105 bills, compared to the 65 bills O’Rourke has introduced over the same period, according to Congress.gov. The vast majority of those bills died in various stages of the legislative process, which is often the case with most legislation.

Cruz has passed five Senate bills into law, including bills authored and incorporated into larger legislation, according to GovTrack, an organization that tracks member voting and legislative data. Not included in the GovTrack count is a Cruz bill that requires hot air balloon pilots to undergo medical exams. That measure passed as part of a FAA reauthorization bill the Senate sent to President Donald Trump last month. Govtrack shows O’Rourke has passed three bills into law.

Obama years vs. Trump years

For their first four years in Congress, Obama was in the White House. According to GovTrack, O’Rourke passed two bills into law while the president of his same party held the Oval Office. His first bill continued tuition assistance programs for service members. That measure was included as part of a larger appropriations bill in 2013.

O’Rourke’s other bill under Obama named a federal courthouse in El Paso.

Cruz also authored a courthouse renaming bill that passed under House legislation, one of three pieces of legislation he passed under Obama. GovTrack credits congressional members with passage if they’ve sponsored companion bills that passed into law. Another successful measure prohibited the U.S. from giving visas to U.N diplomats that previously engaged in terrorist or espionage activities against the United States. The bill came in response to Iran naming a U.N ambassador that was tied to the Iranian Hostage Crisis.

When the Republicans took the Senate back in 2015, Cruz became chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Space. In that position, he shepherded the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act through Congress. The bill, intended to encourage the development of the commercial space sector, originally passed as House legislation, but Cruz authored the companion bill in the Senate.

With Trump in the White House, O’Rourke managed to get his Express Appeals Act signed into law as part of a larger measure. The legislation directed the veteran affairs secretary to start a pilot program that provided veterans with an alternative and faster route to appeal for disability compensation.

Meanwhile, Cruz has had three bills enacted under Trump. The first was a bill reauthorizing NASA that passed the Senate unanimously. The second was a measure to give tax breaks to victims of three hurricanes — Harvey, Irma and Maria — a measure that was incorporated into a larger House relief package that the president signed. Most recently, Cruz had his hot air balloon safety bill included in larger legislation.

But legislative records are not the sole measure of productivity. Because it is difficult to get legislation enacted on their own, members routinely push for certain provisions to be included in larger bills, particularly through amendment processes both on the floor and in committee mark-ups. They also spend time fighting measures they oppose.

“(With) the way that Congress operates these days, much of it’s gonna be pieces of legislation rather than whole bills because now, the past two years in particular, Congress has done very little,” said Rich Cohen, co-author of The Almanac of American Politics from 2001 through 2010. “When Congress does act, the legislation often is comprehensive … They’re big bills and there’s a lot going on in them so it shouldn’t be surprising that someone would take credit for a part of a bill rather than a whole bill.”

Committee work is also a measure of productivity. Both Cruz and O’Rourke sit on their respective chamber’s Armed Services Committee. Cohen said neither committee churns out much legislation, but rather spends much of its time working on a massive yearly Pentagon spending bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Provisions members get included in those bills don’t necessarily show up on their legislative record. A list on the Cruz campaign’s website details 34 legislative accomplishments includes 23 provisions he got included into different NDAAs over his six years. And in several posts on O’Rourke’s Medium blog, he has mentioned multiple items he pushed for inclusion. But it’s not simple to verify either lawmaker’s efforts in larger bills.

“It’s awfully difficult … to prove it or challenge it one way or another,” Cohen said. “It’s the opposite of transparent. It’s difficult to figure out what happened when you have this 1,000 page bill with lots of moving pieces.”

Top three accomplishments

The Texas Tribune asked both Cruz and O’Rourke to provide the three legislative accomplishments of which they are most proud.

The O’Rourke campaign passed along three measures that the El Paso Democrat saw signed into law by Trump.

  • Expanding Veterans’ Access to Mental Health Care

O’Rourke was the primary sponsor of the “Honor Our Commitment Act,” which expanded mental health care through the VA to veterans with “other-than-honorable” discharges from the military. The measure was included an omnibus spending bill in March. In a blog post a year earlier, O’Rourke said the legislation was needed because “(20) veterans a day are committing suicide, and 14 of those we know are not receiving healthcare from the VA.”

  • Requiring Mental Health Screenings for Separating Service Members

Tucked deep within the NDAA for the last fiscal year is an O’Rourke measure mandating that service members leaving the military receive a mental health examination, in addition to the already required exit physical exam.

“Ensuring that our service members receive comprehensive mental healthcare evaluations prior to returning to civilian life is critically important because doing so increases the chances we get veterans the treatment they need,” O’Rourke said in a blog post when the bill was added to the NDAA.

  • Permanently Protecting Castner Range

In last year’s annual defense spending bill, O’Rourke got a provision included to permanently protect the Castner Range, nearly 7,000 acres of land surrounded by the Franklin Mountains around El Paso. The provision was signed into law by Trump as part of a larger defense spending package. The bill prevents any commercial development in a space that O’Rourke said environmental activists have been fighting to preserve since 1971.

“This is an incredible opportunity to ensure that we pass on Castner Range, and all that it means to us as a country, to not just this generation but the generations that follow,” O’Rourke said in a floor speech at the time. He also has a pending bill to designate the range as a national monument.

In response to the request for three top legislative accomplishments, the Cruz campaign sent nine. Here’s a sample:

  • Hurricane tax relief

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Cruz pushed for tax break legislation for victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. The Cruz-led legislation ultimately was included in the final, larger relief bill that passed through both chambers and was signed into law by the president.

Cruz has used this legislation to attack O’Rourke’s voting record because O’Rourke voted against passage of the bill. O’Rourke has defended his vote by saying that the final bill didn’t have tax breaks as generous as those given to victims of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

  • Purple Hearts for Fort Hood victims

In late 2014, Obama signed an NDAA that included a Cruz provision allowing victims of the 2009 terrorist attack at Fort Hood to be eligible for Purple Hearts. Thirteen people died in the attack.

“This designation is long overdue for the victims of the Fort Hood shooting and their families who deserve our prayers and support in dealing with this horrific act of terrorism,” said Cruz when the amendment was announced.

  • U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act

Cruz was the primary sponsor of this 2015 bill in the Senate, which was a companion to the House bill that ultimately passed. This bill prevented the federal government from introducing further regulation on the commercial space industry for seven and a half years. The bill also reauthorized use of the International Space Station through 2024.

“This legislation makes a commitment to supporting the continued development of a strong commercial space sector and recognizes the major stake Texas has in space exploration,” Cruz said in a statement at 2015.

Cruz is the chairman of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness and is from Houston, home to NASA.

The filibuster and the sit-in

Both Cruz and O’Rourke have had moments in Congress that elevated their profiles nationally.

For Cruz, it came just months into his first term, in which his outspoken opposition to the Affordable Care Act placed him at the center of a contentious government shutdown that lasted over two weeks and left many Republicans upset with him. Amid the efforts by congressional leaders to avoid a shutdown in September 2013, Cruz seized on an opportunity to speak on the Senate floor for 21 hours to highlight his opposition to the sweeping health care law.

But when he wasn’t railing against Obamacare, Cruz strayed off topic to keep the clock running on what is now the fourth-longest speech in U.S. Senate history. Most notoriously, the freshman senator read Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” from the floor.

On the south side of Capitol Hill, O’Rourke presided over his own marathon political gamesmanship three years later. Shortly after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016, House Democrats staged a sit-in on the House floor to protest the Republicans’ decision not to bring gun control legislation to a vote. When the Democrats staged their sit-in however, House Republicans adjourned, resulting in C-SPAN turning off its live cameras and leaving interested Americans without an option to watch the remainder of the sit-in.

But O’Rourke quickly found a way around the situation by using his phone to broadcast the sit-in live over Facebook with a fellow congressman, according to the El Paso Times. O’Rourke’s broadcasts were picked up by C-SPAN and CNN while the Democrats held the House floor for over 24 hours. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberglater said that the Facebook Live streams related to the sit-in reached 3 million people.

Author:  ANDREW EVERSDEN – The Texas Tribune

Ted Cruz Leads Beto O’Rourke by 5 Among Likely Voters in U.S. Senate Race, New Poll Finds

Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz leads U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso, by 5 percentage points among likely voters in a new Ipsos online poll released Wednesday in conjunction with Reuters and the University of Virginia.

A September Ipsos poll showed O’Rourke ahead of Cruz by 2 percentage points among likely voters.

According to the newly released poll, 49 percent of respondents said they would vote for Cruz, while 44 percent said they would vote for O’Rourke; 3 percent said they would vote for someone other than O’Rourke or Cruz, and 1 percent said they wouldn’t vote.

The online poll of about 2,000 Texans over the age of 18 was conducted October 12-18. Ipsos online polls do not have margins of error; instead, the poll’s precision is measured using a “credibility interval.” This poll’s credibility interval was +/-3.1 percentage points among likely voters.

Other recent polls have also shown Cruz in the lead. A Quinnipiac University phone poll of 730 likely voters from earlier this month put Cruz ahead of O’Rourke by 9 percentage points.

Respondents cared most about immigration and health care in the Wednesday Ipsos poll. They saw Cruz as a better candidate to address issues relating to unemployment and jobs, health care, immigration and the Supreme Court, while they favored O’Rourke for environmental issues and social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

The poll also asked respondents whether they saw Cruz and O’Rourke as “traditional” politicians: 78 percent said they perceived Cruz as traditional. That number is up from 76 percent recorded in the September Ipsos poll. Only 32 percent saw O’Rourke as traditional, which did not change from September.

In the Texas gubernatorial race, the poll found that Gov. Greg Abbott leads his Democratic challenger, Lupe Valdez, by 15 percentage points — up from 9 percentage points in the September poll.

Author: MATT ZDUN – The Texas Tribune

Letter to the Editor: Who is Tough as Texas?

Who is Tough as Texas?

As someone who moved from NYC about eight years ago, I might not understand Texas tough but I do know NYC tough. Ted Cruz showed moxie when he went to the Bronx during the Presidential primaries. He stood strong as crowds booed while one lone supporter yelled: “We love you, Ted.” That was tough, even by NYC standards. Amazed I watched him take on candidate Trump for insulting his wife and father.  Where’s that Ted Cruz?

He’s a sniveling coward, who’s kissing Trump’s butt while calling out Beto for not being “Tough as Texas.” I see Beto barnstorming through Texas hitting Red counties. Skateboarding through What a Burger but refusing to back down on his “take a knee” stance. Beto is showing up and being honest with Texans. Now maybe I don’t understand “Tough as Texas” but I see Beto O’Rourke tough enough for this former New Yorker. In my opinion, he’s Texas tough.

Mary Ellen Popkin

***

El Paso Herald-Post welcomes all views and viewpoints.  To have your opinion heard, submit your letter to news@epheraldpost.com

Ted Cruz Leads Beto O’Rourke in New Poll by Nine Points

WASHINGTON — A new poll released Thursday morning showed Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has stabilized his lead over his Democrat challenger, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso.

Fifty-four percent of Texans backed Cruz, while 45 percent backed O’Rourke in the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

As for each candidate’s images, 52 percent of Texans surveyed had a favorable view of Cruz, with 44 percent viewing him unfavorably. O’Rourke, however, was slightly under water in how Texans viewed him: 45 percent of respondents had a favorable view of O’Rourke, compared to 47 percent who view him unfavorably.

A September poll from the same outfit showed the same margin: a nine-point Cruz lead. While at times Quinnipiac had this race within the margin of error over the last year, the Cruz lead has stabilized in this and other polls to the high single digits.

This most recent poll was conducted Oct. 3-9.

The poll also took a snapshot of Texas’ gubernatorial race, showing Republican Gov. Greg Abbott with a prohibitive lead over his Democratic rival, former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, 58 percent to 38 percent.

Strikingly, while Valdez and O’Rourke have consolidated support among African Americans, Abbott and Cruz garnered sizable Hispanic support. Cruz had the backing of 37 percent of Hispanic respondents while nearly half of Hispanics surveyed — 46 percent — supported Abbott.

Sixty-two percent of Texans viewed Abbott favorably while 32 percent of Texans had an unfavorable view of the governor. In contrast, Valdez — an underfunded candidate — is still largely unknown for this point in the cycle. Thirty-one percent of Texans had a positive view of Valdez and 29 percent had an unfavorable view of her.

The poll surveyed 730 likely voters, 730 using cell phone and landlines. The margin of error was 4.4 percent.

Author: ABBY LIVINGSTON – The Texas Tribune

Ted Cruz, Beto O’Rourke Clash Over Immigration, Trump, Guns During Intense Debate

DALLAS — U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate, took a newly aggressive tack against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in their first debate Friday evening.

Appearing at Southern Methodist University, the candidates exchanged rhetorical blows on just about every single question, showing off sharp differences that have long been evident in the race. But what stood out was O’Rourke’s combative posture toward Cruz after spending his campaign until this point largely ignoring the incumbent.

Throughout the debate, O’Rourke repeatedly reminded viewers that he was the only candidate on the stage who has visited all 254 counties in Texas — and forcefully pushed back several times as he came under fire from Cruz.

“This is why people don’t like Washington, D.C. — you just said something that I did not say and attributed it to me,” O’Rourke told Cruz at one point. “This is your trick and the trade, to confuse and incite based on fear and not to speak the truth.”

That exchange was sparked by Cruz’s contention that O’Rourke was stoking racial hatred against police following the shooting death of black Dallas resident Botham Jean in his own apartment by white Dallas Police Officer Amber Guyger. Guyger, who was off duty at the time of the shooting, has been charged with manslaughter after she allegedly mistook Jean’s apartment for her own unit in the same building. O’Rourke has voiced support for firing the officer, while Cruz has cautioned against a rush to judgment.

The debate was feisty from the opening question, which was about whether “Dreamers” — young people who were brought to the country illegally as children — should be given a path to citizenship. Holding firm on his support for that idea, O’Rourke charged Cruz with promising to “deport each and every single Dreamer — that cannot be the way that Texas leads on this issue.” Without denying it, Cruz shot back that O’Rourke is focused on “fighting for illegal immigrants” and that “Americans are Dreamers.”

Even on the ostensibly positive last question — What do you admire about your opponent? — Cruz appeared to fit in a jab, or at least a back-handed compliment. Going first, O’Rourke said that as a fellow member of Congress, he respected the sacrifice Cruz was making with his family to do what he believed was best for the country.

When it was his turn, Cruz also commended O’Rourke for making family sacrifices to serve in Congress and said he admired O’Rourke for being passionate and believing in what he is fighting for — much like Bernie Sanders, the self-described Democratic socialist, Cruz noted.

“True to form,” O’Rourke replied.

The topic of the debate was domestic policy. It was moderated by NBC 5 political reporter Julie Fine and Dallas Morning News political writer Gromer Jeffers.

In more current events, the candidates were asked about Brett Kavanaugh, the U.S. Supreme Court nominee whose confirmation is in question as he faces a sexual misconduct allegation from his high school days. Cruz said the accuser deserves to be heard and treated with respect, while O’Rourke went further, saying there needs to be an FBI investigation into the allegation.

The exchange quickly turned into a broader tiff over judicial nominees, with Cruz seeking to tie O’Rourke to Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, and claiming they both want judges who would effectively overturn the Second Amendment.

O’Rourke denied that and offered another confrontational retort as Cruz challenged him to name a judge he has supported who would defend the Second Amendment.

“You may not understand how the Senate works, but it’s your job in the Senate to decide if you’re going to support or not support” nominees, O’Rourke said — to which Cruz pressed him on whether he endorsed Clinton in 2016 (he did) and O’Rourke insisted the question was irrelevant.

The Second Amendment fueled yet another showdown between the two as they differed on the need for gun control after the deadly shooting earlier this year at Santa High School. Cruz said survivors told him they do not want gun control and instead want more armed police officers in schools. O’Rourke panned that idea, saying teachers have told they do not believe it will make them safer.

“Thoughts and prayers, Sen. Cruz, are just not gonna cut it anymore,” O’Rourke said. “The people of Texas — the children of Texas — deserve action.”

With the moderators seeking to move on, Cruz interjected to assert that “more armed police officers in our school is not thoughts and prayers.”

“I’m sorry that you don’t like thoughts and prayers,” Cruz said. “I will pray for anyone in harm’s way, but I will also do something about it.”

In more personal matters, O’Rourke was asked about his 1998 drunk-driving arrest — and whether he sought to leave the scene, a fresher detail that recently emerged about the incident that he has otherwise openly discussed. Citing state and local police reports, the Houston Chronicle reported last month that a witness said he tried to flee.

O’Rourke denied that.

“I did not try to leave the scene of the accident, though driving drunk, which I did, is a terrible mistake for which there is no excuse,” he said.

Cruz said he did not “intend to get into Congressman O’Rourke’s personal history, but I will keep the focus on issues” — and then pointed out O’Rourke introduced legislation that would have effectively ended the automatic suspension of driver’s licenses for those convicted of drug offenses. Cruz called the legislation part of a pattern of O’Rourke flirting with loosening laws on illicit drugs beyond just marijuana.

Cruz and O’Rourke mixed it up over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, which O’Rourke has defended in comments that have received national attention.

O’Rourke reiterated at the debate that he believes “there’s nothing more American than” such nonviolent protests, which the players say they are doing to draw attention to racial inequality.

Cruz shot back at O’Rourke that “nowhere in his answer did he address” that, in Cruz’s view, kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful to veterans. Players have a right to protest, Cruz added, when they can do it in a way that does not “disrespect the flag.”

More fireworks flared up as Cruz and O’Rourke tackled the topic of their respective relationships with President Donald Trump.

O’Rourke insisted he would work with anyone who has the best interests of Texas in mind, including Trump. Cruz pounced in his response, bringing up O’Rourke’s support for impeaching Trump.

“As far as I know, Congressman O’Rourke has never spoken to the president other than to publicly call for his impeachment,” Cruz said. “When you are leading the extreme left wing wanting to impeach … the president, that does not set you up for policy wins for Texas.”

Cruz was asked whether he lost his dignity by supporting Trump after losing to him in a bruising 2016 Republican primary that saw Trump deriding the senator’s wife and father. Cruz said that in an election “unlike any other,” he made a conscious decision to put any personal hurt feelings aside for the good of Texans.

“I’ve got a responsibility, which is to fight for everybody here and every person in this state,” he said.

Cruz also touted this year’s income tax overhaul and job growth.

O’Rourke, though, faulted Cruz for not opposing Trump more and said the president undermines American democratic institutions.

“We need a junior senator who will stand up to this president,” O’Rourke said.

When asked how they represent Texas values, both men took the opportunity to smear their opponent based on campaign contributions. Cruz painted O’Rourke as a far-left ideologue beholden to “liberal interests.” O’Rourke portrayed Cruz as someone who is “captured” by corporations and special interests.

The two did find common ground in one area: When asked about how best to cover the health care needs of Texans, both men said Americans should not be rejected for health care coverage for pre-existing conditions.

The Friday event was the first of three hour-long debates, and it comes as polls continue to show a tight race between Cruz and O’Rourke, an El Paso congressman. On Friday morning, the Cook Political Report changed its rating of the race from “Lean Republican” to “Toss Up.”

The next two debates are scheduled for Sept. 30 in Houston and Oct. 16 in San Antonio. Early voting begins Oct. 22.

It was only a week ago that O’Rourke and Cruz had announced an agreement to hold three debates, capping weeks of negotiations between their campaigns.

O’Rourke first challenged Cruz to six debates in May, and while Cruz maintained he was open to debating his opponent, he did not formally respond until July. That is when Cruz proposed five topical debates over three months in five cities.

Among the issues that O’Rourke had with Cruz’s proposed debate schedule was every one fell on a Friday evening during high school football season. That will remain true for the Dallas debate, while the other two debates they ultimately agreed to are set for different days.

Disclosure: Southern Methodist University has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Author:  PATRICK SVITEK AND BRANDON FORMBY –  The Texas Tribune

Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke Debate Tonight at 5 p.m. Watch Here

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke are set to square off on the debate stage for the first time Friday evening in Dallas.

The 6 p.m. (5 p.m. Mountain) event at Southern Methodist University is the first of three hourlong debates, and it comes as polls continue to show a tight race between Cruz and O’Rourke, an El Paso congressman. On Friday morning, the Cook Political Report changed its rating of the race from “Lean Republican” to “Toss Up.”

The Dallas debate is being presented by SMU, NBC 5/KXAS and The Dallas Morning News. It will be broadcast live on NBC 5/KXAS, its website and the Dallas Morning News’ website as well. The Texas Tribune will feature the livestream of the debate on this page.

The topic of the debate is domestic policy, and it will be moderated by NBC 5 political reporter Julie Fine and Dallas Morning News political writer Gromer Jeffers. Both candidates will stand at podiums before a 240-person audience.

The next two debates are scheduled for Sept. 30 in Houston and Oct. 16 in San Antonio. Early voting begins Oct. 22.

It was only a week ago that O’Rourke and Cruz had announced an agreement to hold three debates, capping weeks of negotiations between their campaigns.

O’Rourke first challenged Cruz to six debates in May, and while Cruz maintained he was open to debating his opponent, he did not formally respond until July. That is when Cruz proposed five topical debates over three months in five cities.

Among the issues that O’Rourke had with Cruz’s proposed debate schedule was every one fell on a Friday evening during high school football season. That will remain true for the Dallas debate, while the other two debates they ultimately agreed to are set for different days.

Disclosure: Southern Methodist University has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

Author:  – The Texas Tribune

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