He's seen as a rising star in Texas politics and is one of the few blue politicians who has a chance in a red state.
Congressman Beto O'Rourke has been drawing relatively large crowds, and he's starting to bring in more campaign cash than incumbent Senator Ted Cruz. But as we've seen in the past, flipping a seat from red to blue is a very tall order.
Many people see O'Rourke as the new hope for the Democratic party in Texas. He's engaging, down to earth and insists you call him by his first name. He may be an outsider in a red state, but his campaign is making noise. He's the charismatic Democratic congressman from El Paso whose energizing voters from all across the state.
“I really like the energy and the enthusiasm that Beto brings to Texas politics,” said supporter Katy Venable.
The 45-year-old congressman spoke to a packed crowd of supporters at the historic Texas Theater in Oak Cliff on Friday. The town hall meeting was put on by a group called ‘DFW for Beto.’
“It’s about people taking charge of what’s happening in their communities in this state and in this country,” O’Rourke said. “Everyone wants something bigger for Texas.”
O'Rourke says that includes job growth, immigration reform and access to affordable healthcare.
“Everything that we care about and matters to us and this country is on the line right now,” he said.
O'Rourke is expected to win the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate against his two other challengers, but defeating Republican incumbent Ted Cruz is seen as a long shot.
Texas remains a solid red state, and no Democrat has won a U.S. Senate race since 1994.
“I think Cruz is taking O'Rourke seriously. I think Cruz has the advantage in the race. He knows he will be the favorite, but should not assume victory,” said SMU Political Science Professor Matthew Wilson. “I think Cruz should run scared because any smart incumbent would run scared. Never take anything for granted.”
O'Rourke has visited over 200 counties in Texas and has also raised a $500,000 more than Cruz last quarter. He believes he can take his campaign all the way to the finish line.
“I’m here holding a town hall because I’m humble enough to know that the folks here in this community know more about this part of Texas than I do, so I better come out and listen,” he said.
O'Rourke also spoke to the LGBT community at a bar in Oak Lawn.
The political science professor says O'Rourke will have his work cut out for him if he wins the Democratic primary since Cruz has a very solid base and is an excellent debater.