Beto O’Rourke has some advice for Texas’ U.S. Senate candidates

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In a soon-to-be-released podcast interview on Thursday with the Signal, former El Paso Congressman and presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke said he’s still undecided in the U.S. Senate race to replace John Cornyn.

Last week, Democratic candidates Air Force helicopter pilot MJ Hegar and state Sen. Royce West advanced to a May primary runoff election.

O’Rourke, who came within 3 percentage points of defeating Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, said either candidate would make a great nominee and Senator, but he’s still waiting to hear more. 

In the meantime, he offered some advice for the two candidates: campaign everywhere, especially in hard-to-reach areas, like the Rio Grande Valley and other communities along the U.S.-Mexico border where turnout has been historically low.

“Will people turnout if no candidates ever show up? Will candidates ever show up if no people ever turn out?” O’Rourke asked. “Someone’s gotta break that cycle.”

On coronavirus 

When asked about President Trump’s and Gov. Greg Abbott’s response to coronavirus, O’Rourke said the underinvestment in necessities like healthcare will harm Texans during the outbreak. Like others, he blasted Abbott for failing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, passing up more than $100 billion in federal funding for healthcare in Texas, the most uninsured state in the nation. He also criticized Trump for delivering an error-filled address to Americans on Wednesday night.

“Many have already reached the conclusion that you cannot trust the president,” O’Rourke said. “That’s he’s dangerous to our future as a Democracy, as a representative form of government, to the rule of law. But to see him fall down on this most basic fundamental element of leadership has changed things dramatically.”

The Texas House

Since exiting the presidential race, O’Rourke has devoted much of his time to helping flip the Texas House, where only nine seats are needed for a Democratic majority.

“The good news, in 2018, I won more votes than Ted Cruz in nine of those statehouse districts that are currently represented by a Republican,” O’Rourke said. “Not only can we do this, in some way we’ve done it before.”

He said the strong turnout on Super Tuesday was evidence that the statehouse could be flipped in 2020, although he said nothing is guaranteed.

Photo: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

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