Congressman Beto O’Rourke maeets Southeast Texans at a meet-and-greet at Luke’s Icehouse in Beaumont, April 6. O’Rourke has announced his candidacy for the Senate seat currently held by Ted Cruz. UP photo by Hannah LeTulle.

Democratic Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, who recently announced his 2018 candidacy for the Senate seat currently held by Republican Ted Cruz, held a meet-and-greet to connect with Southeast Texans at Luke’s Icehouse in Beaumont, April 6. Guests mingled with the candidate and were able to hear his take on their concerns and expectations.

Flying from Washington D.C. to Houston, and then traveling to Beaumont for a meet-and-greet with the Southeast Texas community, U.S. Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke is determined to unseat incumbent Senator Ted Cruz.

The El Paso congressman announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate in Fort Worth a week ago. He spoke with anyone who approached him at Luke’s Icehouse in Beaumont yesterday.

“It’s important for me to be in Houston and Dallas and in Austin,” O’Rourke said. “But it’s also important for me to be in Waco, to be in Beaumont — to be in other parts of the state that aren’t as obvious, that are often forgotten, that aren’t effectively represented right now in the Senate.”

While Beaumont happens to be one of the city furthest away from El Paso, O’Rourke said that distance held a special appeal to him.

“Being here, listening, I now have a better impression of what people in Beaumont are expecting from me, but most importantly, this won’t be the last time that I’m here,” he said. “I want to keep coming back and, as great a conversation as we’ve just had and the fact that we spent a couple hours here, there’s far more for me to learn and know and understand. So, I’m excited. I want to come back, and I’m hoping that we can find a venue next time with more notice.”

O’Rourke said these town hall-like meetings allow communities to hold him accountable for commitments he makes as a candidate.

“It also allows Beaumont to say, ‘We have a need here that you haven’t addressed, or an opportunity to be seen that you should capitalize on, and here’s our direction on that,’” he said.

O’Rourke said many of the issues he’s heard from people at in Beaumont are similar to those in areas all around Texas.

“In El Paso, I wrote an immigration bill called ‘The American Families United Act,’ and it came because I was a town hall at Riverside high school,” he said. “Somebody stood up and said, ‘I’m a U.S. citizen, born and raised here, (I) pay my taxes, stay out of trouble, I am marrying a woman from Mexico, because, when she was a kid, 11- or 12-years old, (she) falsely declared citizenship. She’s banned for life from ever coming into this country, despite the fact that she’s marrying me, a U.S. citizen, we’re going to have U.S. citizen children.’ So we wrote a bill that would allow his wife to come before a federal judge.

“That came out of a town hall meeting, so I would love to know what the best ideas out of Beaumont are.”

O’Rourke said he wants to continue holding town hall meetings on a regular basis, regardless if he wins a seat in the Senate.

“In either capacity — certainly as a senator — I will be in Beaumont, holding town hall meetings,” he said. “Anyone can come and ask any question, or make a criticism, or offer a compliment — and we get hundreds of people at our town hall meetings. I want to do that across Texas.”

By running for the Senate, O’Rourke said he is essentially going “all-in.”

“It’s one or the other,” he said. “I can only be on the ballot for one position. So, by declaring my candidacy for the Senate, that means, after the 2018 election, I will either be the next senator from the state of Texas, or I will be a private citizen.

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Trevier Gonzalez

UP multimedia editor

UP photos by Hannah LeTulle


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