AUSTIN (KXAN) – We’re more than a year away from the 2018 election, but attention is growing for a race many political observers see at the marquee matchup: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) facing a challenge from Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas).
“Beto O’Rourke has a big hill to climb,” said Jim Henson, head of the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas. Henson released a new poll gauging voter opinion of the two senate candidates. Both have problems. Despite strong support from Republicans, Cruz has a 45% disapproval rating, outpacing the 38% who approve of his job performance. O’Rourke’s problem: despite six months of campaigning, less than a third of Texans know anything about him. “Beto O’Rourke still has not permeated the consciousness of the state,” Henson said.
O’Rourke is trying to change that. “It is one town at a time, one town hall at a time that we get to introduce ourselves to the state and meet those whom we want to serve,” O’Rourke said, speaking Sunday morning on KXAN’s State of Texas. His campaign does not take money from political action committees and O’Rourke does not use political consultants.
“I think people are looking for someone who’s working outside the normal, corrupted, political channels,” O’Rourke said. “Who’s trying to end gerrymandering and the process by which members of Congress are choosing their constituents and who doesn’t believe in perpetual re-election and instead is holding town halls, being accountable, being responsive to those who he wants to serve and is doing it on a bipartisan basis.”
O’Rourke has been holding town hall events in cities around Texas, making stops this weekend in central Texas. “Yesterday, we were in Bastrop. We were in Hutto. We were in Round Rock,” O’Rourke said, while also noting stops Sunday in New Braunfels and Austin. O’Rourke touted the town hall events “where we listen to those that we want to represent and serve and ensure that they know I am accountable to them.”
“That’s the way we’re campaigning,” O’Rourke continued. “That’s the way that we’ll serve. And we’re seeing people respond across the state.”