MIDLOTHIAN — What was originally scheduled to take place before a modest few in the Bluebonnet Room of the Midlothian Conference Center, resulted in U.S. Senate hopeful Beto O’Rourke having more support in Ellis County than some may have believed. As the sun set, O’Rourke climbed a set of step ladders with a bullhorn to address an overwhelming crowd.
Congressman O’Rourke, D-El Paso, is challenging incumbent U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in the midterm election on November 6 for Cruz’s Senate seat.
The main tenet of his address to North Texas voters … the power of acceptance and inclusion.
“This race is about how we can be good to one another, how we can find common ground, a common purpose that allows us to achieve a common destiny! Defined not about who or what we are afraid of, but by our own desires, our own aspirations, and the greatness that we are deserving of as Americans, Texans and human beings.”
The O’Rourke campaign has crisscrossed all 254 counties in the state of Texas. As November 6 looms closer, many of the campaign stops are repeats where O’Rourke gets a second opportunity to meet and address issues of interest. He says he is nowhere near tired.
“We have had maybe three hours of sleep over the last couple days. And I’m full of coffee. But I am energized, as hopeful as I have ever been in my life, and it is because of you. It is what you mean to this country at this moment.”
True to form, O’Rourke alluded to hot topic items that normally polarize political rallies. In this case, differences in race, religion and sexuality were not hurdles to overcome, rather they were presented as things that strengthen the diversity of the community.
“Differences of party, of geography, time zones, who you love, who you pray to, how many generations your family has been in this country or whether you just got here yesterday — the opportunity is right here in front of us to right those wrongs. Name a challenge and we are up to it!”
Polls have teetered back and forth, usually within five percentage points. But the race is closer than political analysts would have expected after the 2016 presidential election, in which President Trump won Texas by 9 percentage points. Equally telling is O’Rourke’s ability to raise campaign funds. In all, he’s raised nearly $20.9 million since March 2017, with more than $14 million coming from individuals.
Another consistent theme in the O’Rourke campaign has been one of ignoring partisan politics.
“If you are here and you are a Republican you are in the right place. If you are a Democrat and you are here, you are in the right place. Independents you are in the right place. Everybody is welcome and everybody is necessary,” he said.
On Mental Health And Military
Currently, the largest provider of mental health care is the Harris County Jail. They have more inpatient beds than all of the mental health facilities statewide combined.
“This state is the least insured in the United States of America. This one is on us,” O’Rourke said. “If the morality or justice of the problem won’t inspire you to solve it then maybe this will. That person with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder purposefully gets arrested because by law that is the one place they are guaranteed the care that make life bearable for them. It costs us $400 per night to keep that person locked up.”
The state of the military and veterans affairs is always a hot button topic on the campaign trail. Despite his disagreement with many of the ongoing military theaters, O’Rourke supports veterans. During a solemn point in his presentation Thursday he talked about veteran support and the needless lives lost due to little to no mental healthcare made accessible to veterans. According to a 2017 Veterans Affairs Administration report, there were 20 veteran suicides per day, 14 of them were not under VA care.
“I want to make sure that every single man or woman who puts on that uniform, who puts their life on the line, that shoulders that battle for the rest of us. There is no way that they should not be able to see a mental health provider, there is no way to put a roof your head, no way to access that post 9-11 GI Bill benefit that you earned in service to your country. ”
There are a number of events this weekend. According to some political pundits O’Rourke will have to solidly hold Dallas and Harris counties to offset the remaining red counties in the state. To find a Beto For Texas event near you visit www.betofortexas.com.