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Part 1: Cruz, O’Rourke facing off in pivotal Texas senate election

October 29, 2018


Carson Allen

O’Rourke and Cruz have taken stands on numerous crucial issues, having very different approaches to these issues. These are just some of the issues the candidates have represented on their platform. Graphic by Carson Allen

The national fervor of the midterm elections has reached the Texas senate election. Incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz faces strong opposition from Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke, an underdog whose grassroots-style campaign and values stand in stark contrast to Cruz’s message of conservatism.

Cruz’s experience in the Senate and conservative stance make him popular among Republican voters and some Independents; aligning himself in support of the current Republican majority in the Senate is substantial to voters who want a conservative senator serving Texas.

O’Rourke, on the other hand, has run a unique campaign – he has accepted no money from political action committees (PACs), organizations that raise money to elect/defeat candidates, but has raised more than $38 million in donations, energizing a surprising number of Texans and making a name for himself nationwide. Emphasizing a commitment to the people, he markets his progressive views as being beneficial for all Texans.

O’Rourke has held town halls and rallies in all 254 counties of Texas, pushing the message that he would be a senator committed to all people of Texas. This message in particular is primarily what earned him an endorsement from the Houston Chronicle, a paper that endorsed Cruz in 2012, and the Dallas Morning News, the newspaper with the largest circulation in Texas.

Locally, O’Rourke has held rallies at the University of Texas at Dallas on Oct. 6 and in The Colony on Oct. 20, campaigning on his promise to represent all Texans.

“A lot of politicians try to say they’re ‘for the people’, but I really do think Beto is for women, for LGBT folks, for immigrants, for working class people, for everybody,” O’Rourke campaign volunteer Dr. Michael McCutcheon said at the O’Rourke rally in The Colony.

Despite campaigning on policies not typically shared across the aisle, O’Rourke believes his positions can apply to all Texans and advance Texas.

“I feel more hopeful than I’ve ever felt about this country and this state’s ability to lead this country,” O’Rourke said. “There’s far more that we all have in common than would otherwise separate us. If we don’t give in to the scare tactics and the small differences between us, I really don’t think there’s anything we can’t accomplish.”

I feel more hopeful than I’ve ever felt about this country and this state’s ability to lead this country.”

— Beto O'Rourke

O’Rourke, if elected, plans to continue to hold town halls to stay in touch with constituents and be held accountable.

Cruz has run his campaign presenting himself as a protector of Texan liberty, standing for preserving conservative ideology and economic policies. He prides himself as supporting Republican policies that have seen job growth and rising wages under their implementation, such as tax cuts.

“The Republican platform is an effort to get the government out of the lives of the people. If people stick with what’s on the ballot, we will continue to see economic growth and opportunity,” Coppell Republican Club President Davin Bernstein said.

Bernstein attended a Cruz rally in Fort Worth on Oct. 19.

Many nationwide debates regarding  immigration, healthcare, gun control and education have made their way into the Texas senate elections.

On immigration, O’Rourke aims to preserve the DREAM Act – a plan to grant legal status to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and have grown up here – shuns migrant detention centers and calls for providing immigrants with paths to citizenship. Hailing from a border city, El Paso, O’Rourke emphasizes the sentiment of cooperation between Mexicans and Americans, which he has experienced throughout his life in his home.

Cruz, however, emphasizes his position on secure borders given the legislation he has supported in the Senate, gaining the support of numerous border patrol officials. He supports President Trump’s border wall proposal.

Cruz has also been highly critical of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), voting to repeal the entire act.

O’Rourke, on the other hand, calls for universal coverage through a single-payer or dual-payer Medicare program and improving the ACA. Through this, he aims to change the fact Texas has one of the highest maternal mortality rates and is a state with one of the least insured populations.

The candidates’ proposals towards education also differ sharply, with Cruz in support of school vouchers and dismantling the U.S. Department of Education (citing a disapproval of government handling of local education) and O’Rourke in support of universal pre-kindergarten education as well as increased teacher salaries, as teachers often have to work multiple jobs to make a living in Texas.

The issues relating to energy and the environment have been brought up as well; Cruz sees Texas’ future in fossil fuels and supports lifting of regulations on the fossil fuel industry intended to promote clean energy, while O’Rourke wants to combine traditional and renewable sources of energy for use in Texas as well as strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency.

On social issues, Cruz and O’Rourke fall in line with their party’s views on issues such as abortion and Planned Parenthood funding – against and for, respectively – and gun control – against and for, respectively.

Early voting began on Monday and voter turnout in Texas has hit record levels, garnering national attention. Dallas County, for example, on Monday broke its record from the 2016 presidential election, with a staggering 81,723 people voting at the polls in-person and through mail, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Surely enough, voter energy is high on both sides – 72 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of Republicans nationwide have expressed enthusiasm for voting according to an NBC/WSJ poll, making the election even more highly contested.

Actor Mark Consuelos, who spoke at an O’Rourke rally in The Colony, put the race in perspective: “You may think this is just about Texas, but the whole nation is watching you.”

Follow Akansha on Twitter @akanshas120

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