Congressman Beto O’Rourke is in the midst of an epic senate race against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in the crimson-red state of Texas (where no Democrat has held statewide office since 1994).
O’Rourke, who already sits in the U.S. House of Representatives for the state’s 16th district, doesn’t accept any PAC or corporate donations and won’t consult with outside pollsters. He prefers to work with young staffers from his native El Paso on his mission to visit all 254 counties in Texas. The formerly touring punk rocker is the cosponsor of a congressional bill to legalize marijuana. Because he’s from the west Texas border town of El Paso, O’Rourke wants to bring a strong voice for humane immigration reform to the Senate, and a wealth of personal experience and insight to back it up.
Despite his underdog image, O’Rourke’s campaign has impressive momentum building. So far in 2018, he’s raised dramatically more money than Cruz, with over 43,000 individual donations adding up to $2.2 million in the first 45 days of the year. Democrats in Texas have also set a new record for early voter turnout in March’s primary election, fueling optimism that Texas really can turn more blue for 2018’s midterm elections.
O’Rourke’s campaign coordinator, 24-year-old Brianna Carmen of El Paso, describes O’Rourke’s philosophy as “throwing out the traditional playbook” of Texas candidates, who typically focus on big cities like Houston, Austin, and Dallas. Carmen tells Teen Vogue, “I think Beto’s punk rock past really influences how he wants to tour every place; he wants to meet the people….