By Kristian Jaime
As early voting approaches on February 20, U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke continued his 220-county campaign swing across Texas.
The recent stop at the Ella Austin Community Center in San Antonio’s East Side was the site of yet another town hall meeting. It was also an opportunity for O’Rourke to cut into his eight point deficit against incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). This comes on the heels of lucrative fundraising efforts that that totaled $2.2 million since January 1 compared to Sen. Cruz’ $1.9 million.
“We’ve gotten past parties right now and we want to do what is good for the country,” said O’Rourke. “We want country before party, before ideology, before career, before re-election because that is the way we are working. I’m getting to be a part of something that is taking place in Texas right now.”
Amid a crowd of supporters and potentially Democratic swing voters, O’Rourke hammered Cruz’ record on immigration reform and lackluster support for education funding and doubling down on standardized tests.
The El Paso native is among the current crop of Texas candidates that argue for deportation protection for children of immigrants legally born in the United States and opposition to the construction of any border wall. His proposed policy changes include: ending the militarization of the immigration enforcement system and closing private immigration prisons and for-profit detention centers, ensure political refugees are given a fair opportunity to present their claims under due process under the law and modernizing the visa system to allow U.S. employers to find workers for jobs that Americans cannot fill.
The former U.S. Congressman also stumped for his education platform highlighting key legislative agendas like public school teachers having their retirement protected by doing away with the Windfall Elimination Provision. He also insisted that financing public education meant strictly keeping those funds in the public school arena.
As for why he feels the state is in play for the first time in a long time, O’Rourke cited the statewide frustration with the current administration and Republican majority in Congress.
““I think that may show that Texans are dissatisfied with their leadership in the Senate right now,” continued O’Rourke. “This state is the defining immigrant state, we should be leading on this issue, not sitting in the corner [like Sen. Cruz] who isn’t participating. I think Texans want leadership from our Senator and they’re not getting that today.”
The recent bipartisan immigration deal struck by Congress, currently under review by President Trump, was discussed by 99 Senators with Cruz the only abstaining member.
Funding the upstart campaign has come by way of barring any monies by political action committees. That has far from hampered his efforts to capitalize on the donors with 43,000 individual donations thus far.
O’Rourke visited McMullen county on Tuesday with a town hall in Tilden, Texas with a population of 261. He also held public forums in: Lufkin, Woodville, Beaumont, Orange, Houston, Bay City, Wharton, Brenham, Giddings, Caldwell, Hempstead, San Marcos, Blanco, Boerne, San Antonio, Edinburg and Brownsville.
More information on Beto O’Rourke is available on his official campaign site.