In news that has set Twitter abuzz, word broke this morning that Beto O’Rourke won’t be sitting idly by and waiting for a special session to be called for Republicans to take up the SB 7 voter suppression bill again. Instead, he’s hitting the road.
A flyer that started circulating on social media this morning announces that O’Rourke will be embarking on a “Texas drive for democracy,” in 22 cities across Texas, with more scheduled to be announced.
The tour, designed to start a statewide conversation about voting rights and drive opposition to the voter suppression bill that failed to pass the legislature during the regular session, will make the usual stops in urban areas like Dallas, Houston, and Austin, O’Rourke will also barnstorm in cities and counties with an emerging Democratic base, as well as some traditionally Republican terrain.
It’s reminiscent of O’Rourke’s inspirational 2018 race for U.S. Senate, in which he personally visited each of the 254 counties in Texas. Cities scheduled for a stop so far include Midland, Lubbock, Abilene, Wichita Falls, Beaumont, Lufkin, Waxahachie, and Prairie View, among others.
O’Rourke will also stop in Denton, a city and county rapidly becoming a blue shade or purple, as well as his hometown of El Paso.
News of the tour breaks alongside news that O’Rourke will be joined by voting rights powerhouse Stacy Abrams for an Instagram live about what’s happening in Texas tomorrow, June 2nd.
Speculation has continued to buzz around O’Rourke as a potential 2022 gubernatorial candidate, and the news of the tour and O’Rourke’s increasing engagement on voting rights and activism work with Powered by People renewed speculation that he may jump into the race against Governor Greg Abbott, who spent most of the day yesterday pledging to defund the legislature for failing to bend to his whim.
The speaking stops could be critically important in helping Texans fight back against SB 7. While O’Rourke was a frequent presence at the Capitol to testify against the bills throughout the session, concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic led to lower than usual turnout from progressive activists who traditionally show up to testify and organize against bad legislation.
Organizing opposition to the bills statewide will be crucial if Texas Democrats want to have any hope of stopping Jim Crow 2.0 from becoming the law of the land in Texas, and O’Rourke’s tour gives Texas Democrats their largest organizing opportunity of the year and an opportunity to capture the attention and imagination of Texans not just in the urban core of the state, but disaffected Texans in more rural parts of the state where bringing down Republican margins could make the difference for Democrats in 2022.
Joe brings over a decade of experience as a political operative and creative strategist to Texas Signal, where he serves as our Senior Advisor and does everything from writing a regular column, Musings, to mentoring our staff and freelancers. Joe was campaign manager for Lina Hidalgo's historic 2018 victory for Harris County Judge and is a passionate sneakerhead.