Beto O’Rourke visits Huntsville, discusses contemporary issues

On March 1, Beto O’Rourke visited Huntsville. The event took place at the Kathy and Don Walker Education Building in the shadow of Sam Houston’s home. The Town Hall was organized by Dorothy Willett of the Walker County Democrats; O’Rourke will likely run against incumbent Ted Cruz.

O’Rourke’s visit to Huntsville followed a long East Texas trip from Pittsburg to Texarkana to Longview and a visit to Stephen F. Austin State University before arriving in Huntsville. O’Rourke is the current U.S. Representative for Texas’ 16 district in El Paso, which he has represented since 2013. Prior to O’Rourke’s visit, an email was sent to attendees for donations for gas for the campaign van. The O’Rourke campaign is a true grass roots movement which does not take donations from political action committees, corporations or special interest groups. Despite this, O’Rourke raised over $2.3 million in individual donations, with an average donation of $25 (according to the latest report). His opponent raised just over $1 million, despite funds from his failed bid at the presidency and donations from Political Action Committees (PACs).

O’Rourke arrived to roaring applause from the crowd of supporters in the room filled from wall to wall. He laid down the issues he supports, how he would like to represent Texas and what he hopes to see from Texas in the future. O’Rourke first spoke of the need for compassion in Texas and the unity the state needs to heal.

O’Rourke spoke of the dire consequences of climate change which the future holds if a change is not made. He also laid out a plan for a Medicare-for-all healthcare proposed by Bernie Sanders. Despite being in the “Prison City,” O’Rourke spoke in support of criminal justice reform, an end to the war on drugs and a need for more mental health services because people go to prison to receive this treatment. Immigration reform is a cornerstone issue for the Senate candidate as he lives in El Paso, just across the Rio Grande from Mexico. He supports the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and proposed extending it to families. Finally, the issue on the minds of many was gun rights. The recent Parkland shooting in Florida has led to a national conversation on gun reform and safety. O’Rourke supports a ban on assault weapons, such as the AR-15 used in countless shootings, which he called, “a weapon of war.”

O’Rourke answered several questions from the crowd and further laid out his plans to stand up for Texas. After the event, many lined up for pictures with O’Rourke.

He received roaring applause once again following the event.

Despite Texas’ reputation as a deep-red state, O’Rourke has done well in the polls even compared to Cruz. The election follows the December special election in Alabama where Democrat Doug Jones pulled off an upset against Republican Roy Moore. Greg Abbot even sent out an email Wednesday to constituents saying, “the early voting numbers by democrats should rock republicans to their core.” The voter turnout has been off the charts by democrats in the early voting for the primary elections, which officially took place on March 6.

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