EL PASO, Texas — As Beto O’Rourke seeks to convince voters to send him to Austin as Governor, the Democrat is enjoying some momentum heading into the final weeks before the election, including record fundraising and single digit polls.
The issues in the race for Governor are familiar, from abortion to gun control, property taxes to the border. And the Democrat recently sat down for a one-on-one interview with Jason Whitely to discuss them and many others.
It quickly became clear in our conversation with O’Rourke that he is counting on voter anger and their desire for something different.
“People in Texas now want to vote for change and something better,” O’Rourke said on Inside Texas Politics.
Republicans, including the Governor, have accused O’Rourke of supporting abortion up until the moment of birth. But the Democrat tells us it’s simply not true and is just a part of the ongoing GOP strategy to scare people.
While O’Rourke wouldn’t tell us specifically what restrictions he would support, he does say he’d like to return to the standard set under Roe v. Wade, that held that a constitutional right to liberty also included a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. But the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned Roe earlier this year.
“My position on reproductive healthcare freedom, which is that every woman should be able to make her own decision about her own body, her own future, her own healthcare, that is supported by the vast majority of our fellow Texans, including Republicans in this state,” O’Rourke said.
The aftermath of the Uvalde massacre continues to play a significant role on the campaign trail as well.
Our recent poll, “Texas Decides,” a study of likely Texas voters and a joint effort between the Texas Hispanic Policy Foundation (THPF) and Tegna Texas stations WFAA, KHOU, KENS and KVUE, found that while a similar percentage of Texans had a less favorable view of O’Rourke as they did Governor Abbott following the tragedy, O’Rourke received the biggest bump among political figures in terms of favorability, with 31% viewing him in a more positive light.
O’Rourke says if he were Governor, he would start trying to heal that community and limit gun violence moving forward by calling a special session.
And in terms of policy, O’Rourke reiterated his support for universal background checks, red flag laws and raising the minimum age to purchase an assault weapon from 18 to 21.
“There is nearly universal support for those three ideas, raising the age, red flag laws, universal background check,” said O’Rourke. “Even folks who will never vote for me can agree on at least that much.”
As we sat down with O’Rourke on his front porch, we were only a dozen miles from the border.
While he tells us the Biden Administration isn’t doing enough to protect the border, he says nobody is. And the Democrat calls Operation Lone Star a failure because he says the $4 Billion effort hasn’t led to fewer encounters at the border, but instead even more. And O’Rourke calls the busing of migrants to cities in the northeast a political stunt.
He gave Jason Whitely an example of what he would do instead.
“So, for example, a Texas-based guest worker program where we bring Republicans and Democrats around the table, work with our federal partners, make sure that if you want to come here and work a job in El Paso or north Texas for that matter, for which we cannot find someone born in this state who will actually do that job, that there’s safe, legal, orderly path for you to be able to come to this country.”
In terms of the race itself, our poll also found Abbott leading O’Rourke by 7% (51% to 44%) among likely voters. Among most likely (almost certain) voters, the lead grows to 10% (53% - 43%). 1% of voters in both categories (likely/most likely) says they’ll vote for Libertarian Mark Tippetts and Green Party candidate Delilah Barrios.
The election will be held November 8. Early voting starts October 24.
Beto O’Rourke discussed many other topics in our wide ranging interview, including how he would continue the “Texas Miracle” of economic growth if he’s elected. Listen to the Democrat’s full Inside Texas Politics interview to learn more.
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