Beto O’rourke Bounces Back From Illness: Goes Back to the “Drive for Texas” Campaign

Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat running for governor, resumed his campaign activities on Friday after missing a week’s worth of events due to sickness.

When O’Rourke entered a firefighters union hall in Laredo, Texas, which was decked with the Texas flag and red, white, and blue balloons, more than 500 people cheered.

After Democratic candidates for Texas land commissioner, attorney general, and other positions spoke, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, who has served as South Texas’ representative for 16 years, gathered his party’s supporters and introduced the El Paso native who was born and raised in El Paso.

There were screams and ovations in the room in support of the declining gas costs and the employment growth Cuellar credited to President Joe Biden. There were a lot of jeers in the room in response to the Republican analogies he made on civil rights, health care, schools, and infrastructure.

“Does having a Democrat make a difference? Cuellar said from atop a wooden crate in the middle of the room, “Yes, it does!

Beto for Texas signs in black and white were waved by supporters, who also shook silver pom-poms and spun noisemakers. As O’Rourke took the microphone away from Cuellar, the applause grew louder.

He made political jabs at the current governor, Greg Abbott, declaring, “We are going to win because we are running against the worst governor in the United States today.”

As O’Rourke pledged to work to rebuild the electric grid, assist veterans, reinstate women’s rights to abortion, and establish red-flag legislation to prohibit criminals and possibly dangerous individuals from obtaining firearms, there were cheers and applause.

This gathering occurred in a Democratic stronghold, so the candidate was preaching to the choir. Unwelcome interruptions would not be accepted, according to a sign at the door.

Beto O’Rourke ‘Drive for Texas’ Tour Continues After Illness

O’Rourke, who will be 50 later this month, has been on a fast-paced road trip to stop in each of Texas’ 254 counties. According to a tweet he posted on Sunday, he had cancelled activities in South Texas counties as he recovered from a bacterial infection.

On his campaign website, O’Rourke said that events in Brownsville, Roma, Zapata, San Antonio, Pearsall, Three Rivers, Corpus Christi, Goliad, and Falfurrias would be rescheduled.

A poll done by the Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler in the first week of August shows that O’Rourke is still 7 percentage points behind Republican Gov. Greg Abbott two months before the election on Nov. 8.

Both candidates are trying to get people to vote for them in Texas border counties, where most people are registered as Democrats but are becoming more likely to vote for Republicans.

Earlier on Friday, voters in Zapata County, just south of Laredo, where O’Rourke had to cancel a rally, said they were worried about water access, border security, and guns. Some people said they were still trying to decide whether to keep Abbott as governor or send O’Rourke there.

A few miles outside of town, Larissa Gonzalez runs a coffee shop called Portofino. It is in a building that looks like a barn and is surrounded by nopales. The two-lane Highway 83 goes right by her door, and she said that the border between the U.S. and Mexico is “a short jog” south.

She said that people in border counties like to make sure that their state and national politicians don’t go too far to the left or right. She said that she is leaning toward voting for Abbott because she is worried about what a change could mean for border security and gun rights.

Beto O'rourke Bounces Back From Illness

Delia Mendoza has three jobs at the county building in town. She is the county tax assessor, she collects taxes, and she helps people sign up to vote.

She said that about 7,900 people are registered to vote in the border county, which according to the U.S. Census Bureau has a population of 14,243.

“Mendoza said, “I think a lot of people voted for Abbott, but he didn’t have a strong opponent in the last election. But this time, many people think that Mr O’Rourke would be better for Texas than Mr Abbott.”

Laredo Rally Attracts New Texas Voters, Veterans

John Vargas, who served in Vietnam and is now 72 years old, was outside the firefighters union hall to greet people as they came in.

He said, “We need a change” while wearing a T-shirt with O’Rourke’s face.

He said that restoring the right to have an abortion and finding a new way to keep the border safe are his most important goals. He said that immigration should not be called an “invasion” or solved with the National Guard. Instead, it should be managed.

He said, “The governor is not on our side.”

After registering to vote earlier in the day, Bernie Magallanes, 18, got a seat in the front row at the rally.

After that, he said he wants to know more about how O’Rourke plans to fix the state’s electric grid and infrastructure. Magallanes said that his grandparents, including one with Alzheimer’s, were without electricity for three days last year when a winter storm knocked out the old grid.

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