Beto O’Rourke reflects on Texas governor’s campaign after illness


Beto O’Rourke returned to the campaign trail Friday after a bout with illness forced the Democratic gubernatorial candidate to suspend a week of events.

A crowd of more than 500 people in Laredo, Texas, erupted in joy when O’Rourke walked into a firefighters union hall decorated with the Texas flag and red, white and blue balloons.

U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, who represented South Texas for 16 years, rallied Democratic supporters and introduced born-and-raised El Pasoan after Democratic candidates for Texas Lands Commissioner, Attorney General and others have spoken.

A room full of cheers and applause: at the drop in gas prices, at the job creation that Cuellar attributes to President Joe Biden. A room full of boos: For a litany of unfavorable Republican comparisons, he alleged on infrastructure, health care, schools and civil rights.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke addresses a crowd of more than 500 people in Laredo, Texas on September 2, 2022.

“Does it make a difference if we have a Democrat? Yes, it is,” Cuellar shouted while standing on a wooden box in the center of the room.

Supporters waved black-and-white “Beto for Texas” signs, shook silver pom-poms and twirled noisemakers. The cheers intensified when O’Rourke took the microphone from Cuellar.

“We’re going to win because we’re running against the worst governor in the United States today,” he said, throwing political spades at incumbent Governor Greg Abbott.

There were shouts of praise and boos as O’Rourke promised he would work to restore women’s right to abortion, to enact red flag laws to stop criminals and potentially dangerous to obtain weapons, to repair the electrical network and to support veterans.

More than 500 supporters of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke attend a rally in Laredo, Texas on September 2, 2022.

The candidate was preaching to his choir: It was a rally in a Democratic stronghold. A sign at the entrance warned that hostile disturbances would not be tolerated.

After:Beto O’Rourke goes wild with expletive after heckler laughs at mass shooting in Uvalde

Beto O’Rourke’s ‘Drive for Texas’ tour continues after illness

O’Rourke, who turns 50 later this month, has been on a whirlwind tour aiming to make stops in all 254 Texas counties. He had postponed events in southern Texas counties as he recovered from a bacterial infection, he said in a Twitter post on Sunday.

O’Rourke’s campaign website said events in Brownsville, Roma and Zapata would be postponed, as would events in San Antonio, Pearsall, Three Rivers, Corpus Christi, Goliad and Falfurrias.

Two months before the Nov. 8 election, O’Rourke continues to trail Republican Gov. Greg Abbott by 7 percentage points, according to a poll conducted in the first week of August by the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas. to Tyler.

Both candidates are courting voters in counties bordering Texas, where a majority of voters register as Democrats but are increasingly willing to vote for Republican candidates.

Earlier Friday, just south of Laredo in Zapata County, where O’Rourke postponed a rally scheduled for Friday, voters said they were worried about access to water, border security and firearms. Some said they were still trying to decide whether to keep Abbott or send O’Rourke to the governor’s mansion.

Larissa Gonzalez runs a cafe called Fotofino in a barn-like building surrounded by nopales a few miles from town. Two-lane Highway 83 passes by her door, and the US-Mexico border is “a short jog” to the south, she said.

People in the border county like to make sure their state and national politicians “don’t go too left and don’t go too right,” she said. She said she’s leaning toward voting for Abbott because she’s worried about what a change might mean for border security or the rights of gun owners.

Larissa Gonzalez runs a cafe called Fotofino in a barn-like building surrounded by nopales a few miles from Laredo.  She said Border County residents like to make sure their state and national politicians

In the county building in town, Delia Mendoza wears three hats: county tax assessor, tax collector and voter registrar.

There are about 7,900 registered voters in the border county, she said, with a population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, of 14,243.

“I believe a lot of people voted for Abbott” in the last election, Mendoza said, “but he didn’t have a strong opponent. But this time around, a lot of people see Mr. O’Rourke making a bit more for Texas than Mr. Abbott.

Laredo rally draws new Texas voters and veterans

Vietnam veteran John Vargas, 72, waved to people outside as they entered the fire union hall.

“We need change,” he said, wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with O’Rourke’s silhouette.

Hundreds of supporters of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke attend a rally in Laredo, Texas on September 2, 2022.

Restoring the right to abortion and adopting a new approach to border security are his main concerns, he said. Immigration is something to deal with, he said, not to call it an “invasion” or to resolve with the National Guard.

“The governor is not supporting us,” he said.

Bernie Magallanes, 18, took a front row seat at the rally after registering to vote earlier in the day.

Afterwards, he said he wanted to know more about O’Rourke’s plans to fix the state’s infrastructure and power grid. Magallanes said her grandparents, including a grandfather with Alzheimer’s disease, went without power for three days when a winter storm knocked out the aging grid last year.

“I’m going to do more research,” he said, “but I liked the plans he has for it.”


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