Day five of his campaign for Texas Governor and former El Paso Congressman Beto O’ Rourke held a rally at Discovery Green Park in Houston, Texas on Nov.19.
A crowd of fans waved BETO silver balloons and Beto for Texas signs behind the gubernatorial candidate as he stood in his signature white polo shirt, blue jeans, and repping a Houston Astros baseball cap.
“Houston! Thank you for welcoming us back. It is so good to be with you again,” O’Rourke said in front of a sea of fans awaiting his arrival.
O’Rourke started his speech retelling a story about his first time at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center where he helped victims whose houses were flooded after the catastrophic Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
“I came here to see how I could help those who were displaced by Hurricane Harvey. And what I saw absolutely blew me away,” O’Rourke said. “The level of devastation, the pain, the suffering, the hurt, but also the heroism.”
According to Beto, during the chaos of Harvey, a Houston veterinarian sent out a public service announcement asking the community to drop off any available 11.5 size shoes on his front porch. The shoes were for another Houston man who lost his after rescuing neighbors by boat. The next morning when the vet stepped out on his front porch, he found 20 pairs of shoes.
“A very small example of the extraordinary generosity that you all have shown to one another,” O’Rourke said. “The example that you have set for the rest of the state is what gives me so much hope that Texas is going to get back on the right track.”
Next, in his speech, O’Rourke continued discussing one key issue that the majority of Texans care about: the failing electricity grid and highlighted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s energy industry corporate interest over Texans.
“He didn’t trust the people of Texas and instead he looked to those who owned the gas companies that couldn’t supply what we needed and they rewarded him,” he said. “One of these energy CEO’s [sent] a one million dollar campaign contribution check to Greg Abbott within one month of that disaster.”
Notably, O’Rourke also visited Fifth Ward and Kashmere Garden Houstonians earlier in the day to discuss their experience during February’s winter freeze, which left thousands of residents out of power and killed over 200 Texans.
Then the former congressman highlighted other issues facing Texans, including voter suppression laws.
“Greg Abbott and those in power in the state have closed more than 750 polling places, twice as many as the next closest state,” O’Rourke said. “And for everyone of you who’s willing to wait six hours guess how many people don’t have six hours in their life to stand in line. Guess how many people physically can’t stand out there for six hours.
Additionally, he emphasized that even though Abbott claims to “Back the Blue” socially, he doesn’t prioritize law enforcement opinions on policy. For context, in April, police officers across the state, urged legislators to vote against the permitless carry bill.
“Because they knew that any Texans being able to carry any weapon loaded without a background check without due diligence or training whatsoever would put those officers and sheriff deputies in greater jeopardy,” O’Rourke said. “And nonetheless, Greg Abbott signs that into law because he doesn’t trust law enforcement in the state of Texas.”
Afterward, the in unison crowd repeatedly chanted “Vote Him Out!” when the congressman denounced Abbott’s anti-choice six-week abortion ban.
“Greg Abbott doesn’t trust women to make their own decisions about their own bodies here in the state of Texas,” he said.
Before switching to his own policy vision, O’Rourke said he wanted Houstonians to know this campaign is more about the people of Texas than anything else.
“What if the best jobs in the United States of America were being created right here in the state of Texas,” he said. “What if the best public schools in America were found in our community?”
According to reports, O’Rourke has already marked his place as the healthcare candidate and said day one of his term will be about expanding Medicaid and legalizing marijuana to slow the state’s incarceration rate on low-level drug offenses.
“What if we legalized marijuana in the state of Texas so that we are no longer locking up our fellow Texans for possessing a substance that is legal in most of the rest of the country,” he said. “What if we cleared up our county jails, got more people back to work and raised their families?”
Lastly, in English and Spanish the gubernatorial candidate gave his final pitch to Houstonians and encouraged them to get involved in the campaign.
“I want you to be a part of this campaign,” he said. “We have less than a year to do the most important work that we can possibly think of right now and it is going to take all of us.”
Next for O’Rourke on the campaign trail is Dallas on Sunday and then Abilene, Texas on Monday. Election Day for the governor’s race will be Nov. 8, 2022.
Photo: Beto O’Rourke Campaign
Kennedy is a recent graduate of the University of St.Thomas in Houston where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Celt Independent. Kennedy brings her experience of writing about social justice issues to the Texas Signal where she serves as our Political Reporter. She does everything from covering crime beats, Texas politics, and community activism. Kennedy is a passionate reporter, avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and loves to travel.