Bets in O’Rourke will rock the Texas state race


Washington (AFP) – Still saddened by a mass shooting in Texas, Democrat Beto O’Rourke His long campaign delivered shockwaves by pleading with the national public that it was finally time to take real action to curb the spread of high-powered weapons in his home state and across America.

It was 2019, and the former congressman was running for president when he was Announced during the discussion“Hell, yeah, we’ll take the AR-15,” weeks after A gunman targeting Mexican immigrants kills 23 people At a Walmart in El Paso’s hometown of O’Rourke.

Last week, after The massacre of 19 primary school students and two teachers By an 18-year-old man with an AR-15 rifle in Ovaldi, Texas, O’Rourke–now campaigning for governor–has again briefly captured the spotlight on national politics. This time, that means Press conference disrupted The man who wants to impeach, the Republican Greg Abbottand declared – in a moment later widely watched on the Internet – that the massacre was “on you”.

O’Rourke is betting that tragedy could reset the governor’s race in America’s biggest red state — despite Abbott having previously won elections by landslides and after starting his campaign with $55 million in the bank and despite a gun culture looming in the Texas than anywhere else. .

It didn’t work out in 2019. O’Rourke’s ad for the debate won praise from other Democrats on stage and was a huge fundraising success. but he out of the race Barely six weeks later.

It’s too soon to know what will happen in the governor’s race, but the shooting has already affected both parties. Abbott canceled his planned visit to the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association to stay in Ovaldi. Among them is Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn Negotiating with fellow Democrats On strengthening background checks and “red flag” laws that allow authorities to remove firearms from those found to be a danger to themselves or others.

“I think it was a relief to a lot of people who might have been on the fence,” said Abel Prado, executive director of the Cambio Texas Defenders of Democrats. It gives you, ‘Someone is at least trying to stand up and do something, or at least say something. ”

O’Rourke spent two nights in Ovaldi after the shooting, then drove to Houston to take part in a rally against gun violence outside the National Rifle Association meeting on Friday.

“To those men and women in positions of power who care more about your power than using that power to save the lives of those you are meant to serve… We will defeat you and we will overpower you,” O’Rourke said to the protesters, who chanted his name and “Vote out!”

Supporters hope O’Rourke will regain the magic that made him become a player National Democratic Star He almost annoyed the Republican senator. Ted Cruz In 2018. But since then, O’Rourke’s presentation at the White House, former President Donald Trump, has failed win easily Texas in 2020 and Democrats who hoped to flip dozens of congressional and state legislature seats that year lost nearly every major race.

Nor has a Democrat won Texas governor since 1990, and only last year did the state loosen firearms restrictions enough to allow Almost any resident 21 years of age or older carries weapons without a license. Abbott signed the law along with NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and group president Carolyn Meadows.

Of course, the dominance of guns in Texas culture has long preceded the law. Abbott once tweeted his embarrassment about his lagging state of California in gun sales, and Cruz is fond of saying, “Give me a horse and a gun and an open plain, and we can conquer the world.” Former Republican Governor Rick Perry scrambled for re-election in 2010 after using a laser-sighted pistol to kill a wolf while running.

Likewise, mass shootings are nothing new in Texas. Tuesday’s massacre in Ovalde and the killing in El Paso followed a mass shooting in Santa Fe High School Outside Houston Killing Eight Students and Two Teachers in 2018, Revolting in the Church Sutherland Springs That left 26 people dead, including an unborn child, in the previous year.

Jerry Patterson, the former Texas land commissioner, a Republican who has long been famous for carrying multiple guns almost everywhere he went, said O’Rourke’s most ardent supporters would be “more determined to vote for Peto” after his standoff with Abbott.

However, Patterson said the clash could backfire, alienating sympathetic swing voters who might think O’Rourke was making a self-serving show.

Patterson, who, as a senator, wrote the original 1995 Concealed Pistol Act in Texas that allowed Texans to take firearms in more places than almost anywhere in America at the time. “I think it’s a net loss.”

Abbott O’Rourke hasn’t mentioned much since the shooting but did answer questions about the state’s potential new weapon limits by criticizing the high crime rates in cities run primarily by Democrats.

“There are more people filmed every weekend in Chicago than there are schools in Texas,” the governor said arrogantly. When speaking about arguments that new restrictions on firearms could make Americans safer, “Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York refute this thesis.”

Abbott’s campaign has previously criticized O’Rourke for his past stance on firearms, producing an online ad last year showing a cartoon of O’Rourke speeding in the wrong direction down a one-way street, then off a ramp while the radio plays clips of his caption “Hell yeah And another strongly progressive stance he took as a presidential candidate.

O’Rourke’s campaign insists he is not using the massacre for political gain. She turned her fundraising machine into one that accepts donations for relatives of Ovaldi’s dead, and O’Rourke says he attended Abbott’s press conference at the invitation of one of the victims’ families.

The campaign said he sat quietly in the audience for over 10 minutes, intending only to listen. But, when Abbott said “there was no meaningful advance warning of this crime” other than the gunman’s deployment of the shooting just moments before it began, O’Rourke was incensed—particularly given that after the El Paso shooting, the state chief was incensed to respond to Relaxing gun laws. He approached the stage and accused Abbott of “doing nothing” when Ovaldi’s violence was “entirely expected”.

Also on stage was Uvald Mayor Don McLaughlin, who responded bluntly and called O’Rourke “sick” for trying to make the appeal a “political issue”.

But she nevertheless helped one Texan change her mind. Nicole Armejo, who works for her family’s HVAC in the border town of McAllen and has three children, ages 10, 9, and 6, who attend public school. She didn’t vote for O’Rourke when she ran for Senate but is now planning because “the way we do things isn’t working.”

“Maybe, Texas, it’s not just about owning a gun,” said Armijo, who said she loves guns and hunting but would support expanded background checks. “Peto framed those thoughts: It’s not about me or you. It’s about everyone as a whole.”


More on the school shooting in Ovaldi, Texas:


This story has been corrected to show Abbott twice winning an election, not being re-elected, by landslides.