“I don’t think Jesus Christ could boot [Sen. Ted Cruz] out of Texas,” Tom Harrison, an elevator repairman from Fort Worth, Texas, who voted for Cruz in 2012 and again in 2016, told the Dallas Morning News.
But maybe Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) could.
The three-term congressman has a lot of campaigning to do before the November election, but his fellow Democrats are already buzzing about the possibility of a historic victory. And why not? O’Rourke bested Cruz in the 2017 fourth-quarter fundraising cycle by $500,000.
Even though no Texas Democrat has won a statewide election since Bob Bullock was re-elected attorney general in 1994, O’Rourke said he senses victory on the 2018 campaign trail.
“Anyone who doubts the viability of what we are set to do, this campaign, winning in November, needs to be here right now and feel what we all feel,” O’Rourke told supporters at a San Marcos, Texas, campaign stop.
O’Rourke graduated from Columbia University the year then-Attorney General Bullock was victorious and worked in New York before returning to El Paso to launch a technology firm.
He served two terms on the El Paso City Council before taking on an eight-term incumbent and winning election to Congress in 2012.
Married with three kids, O’Rourke has called healthcare “a basic human right, not a privilege,” wants to improve, not trash, Obamacare, and wants to “end the militarization of our immigration enforcement.”
The Dallas Morning News reported O’Rourke would face only “minimal opposition” in the Democratic Party’s March 6 primary. He is expected to challenge Ted Cruz in November.
O’Rourke might have raised $2.4 million as compared to the $1.9 million Cruz received from supporters during the last three months of 2017, but the Republican incumbent had $7.3 million in the bank, dwarfing O’Rourke’s $4.6 million campaign account.
“The fact it’s the most we’ve raised and that we are adding tens of thousands of more individual contributions shows that the interest in the campaign is only increasing,” O’Rourke told the Texas Tribune. “And the fact that most of that is Texans is really, really encouraging.”
Cruz said he was well aware of every dime his likely November opponent had raised.
“That’s a manifestation of the energy on the extreme left,” Ted Cruz told the Texas Tribune.
Ted who? O’Rourke insists he is not running against Ted Cruz, at least not yet.
“How many times have you heard me mention Ted Cruz today?” O’Rourke told a crowd in Henrietta, Texas. “… You know Ted Cruz. You have formed your judgments, you have your opinion. … What you deserve is what I want to do, what we can do together.”
O’Rourke’s enthusiasm on the campaign trail is justified, at least according to a poll released by the Democratic-friendly End Citizens United in January.
It showed the Democratic congressman trailed Cruz by only eight points, 45 to 37 percent.
“The results of today’s poll should be deeply troubling for Senator Cruz. As voters become more familiar with Beto and his promise to not accept a dime of special interest money, it is clear he will continue to gain momentum,” said Tiffany Muller, president of End Citizens United. “Sen. Cruz’s record of protecting big money and special interests will be a deciding factor to Texans come November.”
However, an internal Cruz campaign poll, as reported by the Houston Chronicle, showed Cruz led O’Rourke by 18 points, 52 percent to 34 percent, with 13 percent of the voters surveyed undecided.
“Texas is not even close to being a purple state. It’s not even within spitting distance of being a purple state,” Jim Arnold, a former GOP political consultant, said. “There may be backlash against Trump in midterm elections, but if it happens in Texas, it will be only in marginal races that were in swing districts anyway. Not something as earth-shattering as a U.S. Senate race.”
But Sen. Cruz, at least in his February public appearances, said he was taking nothing for granted, and neither should Republican voters.
During a speech to the Fort Bend County GOP, Cruz warned his audience of “incredible volatility in politics right now,” and said Democrats were “stark-raving nuts” when it came to President Trump.
Cruz said the Dems’ hatred of Trump was evident when they sat on their hands and refused to applaud at the State of the Union address even when the president said African-American unemployment was at a historic low.
“That underscores the political risk in November,” Cruz said. “Let me tell you right now, the left is going to show up. They will crawl over broken glass in November to vote.”