O’Rourke bets shooting will shake up Texas governor’s race

WASHINGTON – Still mourning a Texas mass taking pictures, Democrat Beto O’Rourke gave his long-shot marketing campaign a jolt via imploring a countrywide target market that it was once in spite of everything time for actual motion to curb the proliferation of high-powered weapons in his house state and throughout America.

That was once 2019, and the previous congressman was once working for president when he declared all over a debate, “Hell, yes, we’re gonna take your AR-15,” weeks after a gunman concentrated on Mexican immigrants killed 23 folks at a Wal-Mart in O’Rourke’s local El Paso.

Last week, following the bloodbath of nineteen basic college scholars and two lecturers via an 18-year-old guy with an AR-15-style rifle in Uvalde, Texas, O’Rourke — now campaigning for governor — once more in short seized the nationwide political highlight. This time, that intended crashing the scoop convention of the person he desires to unseat, Republican Greg Abbott, and pointing out — in a second due to this fact considered extensively on-line — that the carnage was once “on you.”


O’Rourke is betting that the tragedy can reset the governor’s race in America’s largest red state — despite Abbott twice previously winning election by landslides and having begun the campaign with $55 million in the bank and despite gun culture looming larger in Texas than perhaps anywhere else.

It didn’t work in 2019. O’Rourke’s debate declaration won him praise from other Democrats on stage and a fundraising bump. But he dropped out of the race barely six weeks later.

It’s too early to tell what will happen in the governor’s race, but the shooting has already affected both parties. Abbott canceled his planned visit to the annual National Rifle Association meeting to remain in Uvalde. Also skipping it was Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who is among those negotiating with Democratic colleagues on strengthening background checks and “red flag” laws allowing authorities to remove firearms from those determined to be a danger to themselves or others.


“I think it felt cathartic for a lot of people that maybe might have been on the fence,” said Abel Prado, executive director of the Democratic advocacy group Cambio Texas. “It gives you, ‘At least somebody’s trying to stand up and do something, or at least say something.’”

O’Rourke spent two nights in Uvalde after the shooting, then headed to Houston for a rally against gun violence outside Friday’s meeting of the NRA.

“To those men and women in positions of power who care more about your power than using that power to save the lives of those that you are supposed to serve …. we will defeat you and we will overcome you,” O’Rourke told protesters who chanted his name and the phrase “Vote them out!

Supporters hope O’Rourke recaptures the magic that noticed him grow to be a nationwide Democratic celebrity and just about dissatisfied Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. But since then, O’Rourke’s White House bid fizzled, former President Donald Trump simply gained Texas in 2020 and Democrats who had was hoping to turn rankings of congressional and legislative seats within the state that 12 months misplaced just about each and every peak race.


A Democrat additionally hasn’t gained Texas’ governorship since 1990, and, simply remaining 12 months, the state loosened firearm restrictions sufficient to permit nearly any resident age 21 and older to hold weapons with out a license. Abbott signed that legislation along NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and the gang’s president, Carolyn Meadows.

Of direction, the domination of weapons in Texas tradition has lengthy predated the legislation. Abbott as soon as tweeted his embarrassment at his state lagging California in gun gross sales, and Cruz is fond of claiming, “Give me a horse, a gun and an open plain, and we can conquer the world.” Former Republican Gov. Rick Perry cruised to reelection in 2010 after the usage of a laser-sighted handgun to kill a coyote whilst jogging.

Mass shootings are in a similar way no longer new in Texas. Tuesday’s bloodbath in Uvalde and the El Paso killings adopted a mass taking pictures at Santa Fe High School outdoor Houston that killed 8 scholars and two lecturers in 2018, and a church rampage in Sutherland Springs that left 26 folks lifeless, together with an unborn kid, the 12 months earlier than.


Former Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, a Republican lengthy well-known for wearing more than one weapons just about all over the place he went, mentioned O’Rourke’s maximum ardent supporters might be “even more determined to vote for Beto” after his confrontation with Abbott.

Still Patterson said the clash could backfire, alienating otherwise potentially sympathetic swing voters who might think O’Rourke was putting on a self-serving show.

“Sometimes your method overwhelms your message, and his method gutted whatever benefit he might have accrued,” mentioned Patterson, who, as a state senator, wrote Texas’ unique, 1995 hid handgun legislation permitting Texans to take firearms extra puts than just about any place in America on the time. “I think it’s a net loss.”

Abbott hasn’t mentioned O’Rourke much since the shooting but answered questions about possible new state gun limits by slamming high crime rates in cities primarily run by Democrats.


“There are more people shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in schools in Texas,” the governor said hyperbolically. Speaking of arguments that new firearms restrictions could make Americans safer, “Chicago and LA and New York disprove that thesis.”

Abbott’s campaign has also previously chided O’Rourke for his previous stand on guns, producing an online ad last year showing a cartoon of O’Rourke speeding the wrong direction down a one-way street, then off a cliff while the radio plays clips of his “Hell yes” comment and other strongly progressive positions he took as a presidential candidate.

O’Rourke’s campaign insists he’s not using the massacre for political gain. It transformed its fundraising apparatus into one accepting donations for relatives of those killed in Uvalde, and says O’Rourke attended the Abbott news conference at the urging of one of the victims’ families.

He sat quietly in the audience for 10-plus minutes, intending only to listen, the campaign said. But, when Abbott said “there was no meaningful forewarning of this crime” other than the gunman posting about the shooting just moments before he began doing so, O’Rourke got angry — especially given that, after the El Paso shooting, the state’s chief response was to loosen gun laws. He approached the stage and accused Abbott of “doing nothing” when the the Uvalde violence had been “totally predictable.”


Also on stage was Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, who responded with an obscenity and called O’Rourke “sick” for trying to make the shooing “a political issue.”

But it nonetheless helped one Texan change her mind. Nicole Armijo, who works in her family’s HVAC business in the border city of McAllen and has three kids, ages 10, 9 and 6, attending public school. She didn’t vote for O’Rourke when he ran for Senate but plans to now because “the way we’re doing things is not working.”

“Maybe, Texas, it’s not just about having a gun,” mentioned Armijo, who mentioned she loves weapons and looking however would give a boost to expanded background assessments. “Beto’s more or less portrayed the ones ideas: It’s no longer about me otherwise you. It’s about everybody as an entire.”


More on the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas: https://apnews.com/hub/school-shootings.


This tale has been corrected to turn Abbott two times gained election, no longer reelection, via landslides.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This subject material will not be revealed, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed with out permission.

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