Ex-punk rocker challenges Ted Cruz for
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[April 01, 2017]
By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A punk
rocker-turned-congressman from Texas announced his candidacy for the
U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Ted Cruz on Friday, making him the
first prominent Democrat to challenge the former presidential candidate.
Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke, a Spanish-speaking, Irish-American
representing a predominantly Latino district that includes the border
city of El Paso, is considered a long shot in the Republican-dominated
state, analysts said.
But O'Rourke's outsider credentials are expected to add flair to the
2018 Senate race in Texas, where a Democrat has not won a state-wide
election in more than 20 years. Beto is short for his name in Spanish,
"This is Cruz's to win. He has got a national fundraising network so he
will have all the money in the world," said Cal Jillson, a political
science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
In a campaign launch from El Paso shown on Facebook Live, the Ivy-League
educated O'Rourke, 44, pledged to fight for veterans, shun corporate
money and serve only two terms in the Senate if elected, saying it was
in the people's best interest to have fresh blood in Congress.
O'Rourke, who played guitar and provided vocals for the punk band Foss
in the 1990s, also took a shot at Republican President Donald Trump for
his hard-line stance on immigration, vowing to "fight when necessary
against a president who is focused on building walls, or conducting
military immigrant round-ups."
O'Rourke and Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas gained attention
on social media earlier this month by live-streaming the journey they
made together from Texas to Washington and billing it as 1,600-mile
bipartisan road trip. They rented a car and took the trip due to a
winter storm that shut East Coast airports.
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Senator Ted Cruz (R) and Representative Beto O'Rourke. REUTERS/Joe
Polls rate Cruz as the most popular politician in the state among
Texans. O'Rourke does not have much political support outside his
base of El Paso, a western Texas city closer to San Diego,
California than to Houston.
Another possible challenger to Cruz is Democratic U.S.
Representative Joaquin Castro, analysts said.
Just ahead of O'Rourke's announcement, Texas Republican Governor
Greg Abbott announced he was endorsing Cruz. Cruz backers later sent
out a fundraising email, saying O'Rourke was out of touch with Texas
"Beto O'Rourke will have the full support of the mainstream media
and a Washington establishment willing to do everything in their
power to see Ted Cruz defeated," the email said.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Tom Brown)
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