Beto O’Rourke dusted off his ace in the hole in the Democratic presidential debate in Detroit: Texas is now a swing state.
Winning Texas, which last voted for a Democrat for president in 1976, would give the Democrats the presidency.
On July 30, the first night of two debate panels, the former El Paso congressman said his near-miss race to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz showed his unifying ability.
“We are as divided and polarized as a country as we have ever been,” O’Rourke said. “And right now, we have a president who uses fear to drive us further apart.”
He called for “a faith in the future of this country that includes everyone,” trying to re-kindle the fire from his Senate race.
A recent poll showed him leading Democratic hopefuls in Texas, and beating Trump by 11 percent.
“My whole life, I’ve been including people in the success of this country: starting a small business with high-value, high-wage jobs in the third-poorest urban county in America; serving on the city council and holding town hall meetings every single week to remind myself who it is that I serve at the end of the day; and in congress, being in the minority, but working with Democrats and Republicans alike to deliver for my constituents and this country,” O’Rourke said.
“And then in Texas, this last year, traveling to every county, not writing anybody off, not taking anyone for granted, and ... winning more votes than any Democrat has in the history of the state; winning Independents for the first time in decades; and winning nearly half a million Republicans,” he said.
“And those 38 electoral college votes in Texas are now in play, and I can win them. That is how we defeat Donald Trump in November of 2020, and how we bring this divided country together in January of 2021,” he concluded. “Thank you.”
Now we’ll see whether that argument has any national resonance among Democratic primary voters.
Qualifiers for September debates, so far: O’Rourke and seven other Democrats have met the Democratic National Committee’s qualifications for the debates in Houston the second week of September.
Fellow Texan Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is close to achieving the 2% in four approved polls, and 130,000 individual financial contributors to qualify.
Already qualified besides O’Rourke are former Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and five U.S. Senators: Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Three more Democrats have received the necessary contributions from at least 130,000 individuals, for at least 400 unique donors in at least 20 states — businessman Andrew Yang, Castro and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii — but still need to reach their qualifier of at least 2% in each of four certified polls.
Yang and Castro each have three of their four. Billionaire Tom Steyer has two. Gabbard and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper each have one.
All other candidates haven’t reached 2% in any qualifying polls.
The DNC requires polls be conducted by an approved pollster, released between June 28 and Aug. 28, conducted nationally or in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and/or Nevada, and fit a certain question structure.
Big blow to Republicans: U.S. Rep. Will Hurd won’t seek re-election. Mike Conaway also is quitting. And Kenny Marchant.
Hurd, 41, the only black Republican in Congress, who has represented the truly swing 23rd Congressional District since 2015, has decided to call it quits.
Part of it is that the former CIA operative has had to stiff-arm racist President Donald Trump, most recently becoming the only Texan among four Republicans to criticize Trump’s call for four minority Democratic congresswomen — three born in the US — to go back where they came from.
Hurd narrowly escaped defeat in the vast San Antonio-to-El Paso district in 2018 by Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer. Now 38, she has already announced a re-run for the 70 percent Hispanic district in 2020.
Hurd, a computer expert, says he’ll “pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security.”
Conaway,71, of Midland, has since 2005 represented the 29-county 11th District stretching from Fort Worth to the New Mexico border.
Marchant, 68, served 18 years in the Texas House before joining Congress in 2005. His district is north of Dallas and Fort Worth.