O’Rourke sup­port­ers ready for turn­ing point in Congress

Se­nate hope­ful the ‘JFK of Texas’ at Katy rally

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - CITY | STATE - By Ileana Na­jarro

Bor­row­ing sound equip­ment from a rockand-roll band per­form­ing on the court­yard stage of Katy’s No La­bel Brew­ing Com­pany, U.S. Se­nate can­di­date and cur­rent U.S. Rep. from El Paso Beto O’Rourke got a crowd go­ing on Satur­day as he ad­dressed cam­paign is­sues vary­ing from uni­ver­sal back­ground checks for gun own­er­ship to clean en­ergy jobs.

“This is the JFK of Texas,” said Con­stance Tran, 47, who came from Cy­press to ex­press her sup­port.

O’Rourke’s grass-roots ap­proach to his can­di­dacy, namely avoid­ing any fund­ing from po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees, has struck a chord with con­stituents in the Katy area who have ex­pressed dis­may at Repub­li­can Sen. Ted Cruz’s stint in the Se­nate, in­clud­ing voic­ing con­cerns over his sup­port for Alabama Se­nate can­di­date Roy Moore, who last week found him­self em­broiled in a sex­ual mis­con­duct with mi­nors ac­cu­sa­tion.

In an in­ter­view with the Hous­ton Chron­i­cle, O’Rourke crit­i­cized the Repub­li­can House’s lat­est tax re­form pro­posal, claim­ing cuts to pro­grams such as Med­i­caid and univer­sity Pell grants for the sake of cor­po­rate tax cuts ul­ti­mately will serve as a dis­in­vest­ment in the coun­try’s econ­omy.

“This is an ex­pen­sive way to help peo­ple who are al­ready wealthy,” O’Rourke said.

He said he finds no logic in the top-down ap­proach to the House’s pro­posal, ad­ding that it’s in line with the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion’s lack of trust in sci­ence.

The Se­nate hope­ful also delved into his sup­port for the in­vest­ment in storm­surge in­fra­struc­ture in the wake of Hur­ri­cane Har-

“Peo­ple (are) be­liev­ing in some­thing that per­haps be­fore they didn’t think was pos­si­ble in Texas: a Demo­crat rep­re­sent­ing the state in the Se­nate.” U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso

vey’s dev­as­ta­tion. At the Satur­day rally, one con­stituent thanked him for hav­ing co-spon­sored an ap­pro­pri­a­tions bill in 2016 meant to grant $311 mil­lion to the Army Corps of Engineers for flood con­trol projects and storm dam­age re­duc­tion projects shortly after the Tax Day floods.

“Trump’s pour­ing the con­crete in the wrong place,” O’Rourke said, re­fer­ring to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s con­tin­ued call for the con­struc­tion of a bor­der wall be­tween Mex­ico and the United States.

Ad­dress­ing the re­cent shoot­ing at the First Bap­tist Church in Suther­land Springs, O’Rourke af­firmed his be­lief in the need for uni­ver­sal back­ground checks with no ex­cep­tions. Not­ing the Texan tra­di­tion of gun own­er­ship, he added that he has found sup­port from vot­ers across the state and across party-lines for this pol­icy. “Tex­ans get it,” he said. Though it’s been over 30 years since Texas has had a Demo­cratic sen­a­tor, and while O’Rourke ad­mits not ac­cept­ing PAC funds poses a “very real risk” to his cam­paign, he feels the state and the coun­try has reached a turn­ing point that calls for lead­ers with his ideals.

“Peo­ple (are) be­liev­ing in some­thing that per­haps be­fore they didn’t think was pos­si­ble in Texas: a Demo­crat rep­re­sent­ing the state in the Se­nate,” he said.

Yi-Chin Lee pho­tos / Hous­ton Chron­i­cle

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who is chal­leng­ing U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s seat in the next elec­tion, spreads his mes­sage to the pub­lic dur­ing a rally at No La­bel Brew­ery on Satur­day in Katy.

Beto O’Rourke told the crowd in Katy that Pres­i­dent Trump is “pour­ing the con­crete in the wrong place.”

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