Beto O’Rourke, who famously campaigned across Texas’ 254 counties during his bid for U.S. Senate in 2018, is returning to every single county in the state.
Not as a candidate, but with his organization, Powered by People, which is directing the organizing muscle of new and old volunteers to make phone calls, send texts, and register likely Democratic voters across the state.
O’Rourke and his massive band of volunteers, through an aggressive voter registration and identification effort to reach likely Democrats, have helped register nearly 50,000 unregistered Democrats, made more than 1.2 million calls to Texas voters, and just in the past two weeks, sent more than 4 million texts to voters across the state — rural, urban, and suburban. All of the confirmed Democratic voters and their phone numbers that Powered by People identifies are shared with the Texas Democratic Party and Democratic candidates running up and down the ballot. A single Powered by People phone bank has gathered more than 800 volunteers who made more than 300,000 outbound calls to likely Democratic voters.
O’Rourke also recently announced a goal to make a stunning 15 million calls to Texas voters, more than half of the state’s population of 29 million.
Before engaging Texas voters, Powered by People first focused on helping them put food on the table. They filled more than 14,000 volunteer shift hours at overwhelmed food banks in the wake of a COVID-19 outbreak fueled by Gov. Greg Abbott’s premature reopening of the state.
Previously, Powered by People homed in their efforts on flipping nine of 22 state house seats where O’Rourke won or lost within single digits in 2018 in order to deliver a Democratic majority in the Texas House. The expansion of organizing efforts to every single one of the 254 counties of Texas, however, signals a growing confidence in not only flipping the statehouse, but actively competing to flip the U.S. Senate seat, as well as 10 Congressional seats in districts that O’Rourke won or lost by under 3 points in 2018, and scores of judicial seats, including nearly half of the Texas Supreme Court. And perhaps most importantly, Powered by People is seeking to deliver Texas’ 38 electoral votes to Democrats for the first time since 1976, fundamentally altering the landscape of presidential politics for generations.
The expansion also lays down the foundation for another statewide run for O’Rourke, who is being touted as a potential Democratic candidate for governor in 2022. O’Rourke has been increasingly critical of Abbott’s mishandling of the state’s coronavirus response, and called on Abbott to resign earlier this month for opening up Texas too early, stripping local leaders of power, and failing to issue a mandatory mask order in time, leading to the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 and more than 3,400 deaths. Texas, a majority Black and Brown state, has seen its Black and Latinx residents die at three to six times the rate of their white counterparts.
O’Rourke’s return to Texas’ 254 counties hearkens back to his iconic live-streamed campaign for the U.S. Senate that put Texas on the map as the largest battleground state in the country. While he will not be hopping in his van and recording his journey in light of COVID-19, O’Rourke is once again showing up everywhere — no matter how red, blue, or unlikely to vote — to seismically expand the electorate by bringing in hundreds of thousands of new Democratic voters into the fold.
Photo: Beto O’Rourke