HOUSTON – By all accounts, El Paso-born U.S. Rep. Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke has run a remarkable campaign for the U.S. Senate. But as a Democrat in the reddest of red states, he’ll need record-breaking turnout on Election Day to win against Sen. Ted Cruz.
On a campaign swing through Harris County Monday, O’Rourke urged enthusiastic supporters at Lone Star College in Cypress and at the White Oak Theater in Houston to get out and vote.
In a yearlong campaign, O’Rourke has visited all of the state’s 254 counties, raised more money than any other Senate candidate without accepting PAC money and made the race a statistical dead heat.
O'Rourke told a crowd of about 1,000 supporters at the Berry Center in Cypress Monday, “Where we are right now in the future of this country, we together are going to decide this election.”
A liberal Democrat who favors universal health care, immigration reform, solar and wind power and legal marijuana, O’Rourke’s grassroots campaign is tailored to the state’s changing demographics, attracting young voters, minorities and recent Texas transplants.
“He’s honest, he’s going with grassroots and nobody is backing him but us. That’s fabulous," said Lisa Holley, a supporter who came to hear him at Lone Star College’s North Harris County campus.
To win, O’Rourke will have to deliver an extraordinary turnout on Election Day: roughly a million more voters than went to the polls in 2016, according to Rice University political science professor Mark Jones.
Jones said Cruz and the Texas Republican Party's ground game still have the advantage.
“There’s a blue wave in Texas, but it’s only about knee-high,” Jones said.
O’Rourke said he’s confident he and his supporters can do it.
“We’re going to have to see an extraordinary turnout for a midterm election in a state that ranks dead last in midterm turnout,” O'Rourke said. “That just makes the story that much more interesting, makes the challenge that much greater, and that’s going to make the victory that much sweeter."
With just 28 days to go, O’Rourke supporters this week kicked off a massive get-out-the-vote drive this week, aimed at reaching 5.5 million potential voters between now and Election Day.