Democrats bank on Beto O’Rourke to turn Texas blue in 2018

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Roy Moore’s defeat by a Democrat in the Alabama Senate race has Texas Democrats hopeful for a similar shift. Their key player: El Paso lawmaker Beto O’Rourke.

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O’Rourke’s liberal stances on issues like immigration and climate change may make his win appear unlikely, but he is putting up a fight as he travels across Texas with the goal of visiting all counties, speaking with voter groups that feel marginalized; in large part, Democrats, Latinos and those who are fed up with Trump-era Republicanism.

RELATED: A Houston lawmaker is the next target for Democrats after Roy Moore’s defeat

According to the Texas Tribune, Donald Trump only beat out Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Texas by nine percentage points, and there’s been a considerable rise in Democratic political activity since the election, which O’Rourke will be counting on to fuel his campaign.

O’Rourke is running on a similar platform as former President Barak Obama. Though he accepted money from political action committees in the past, he’s opted not to accept PAC donations for this race, and isn’t hiring political consultants or utilizing polls, according to the Tribune.

His competition is Sen. Ted Cruz, a hard-line Republican who, despite being unpopular in some circles, had enough support in 2016 to give Trump a run for his money in the initial stages of the campaign. Cruz has a proven ability to mobilize the Christian right, which he’ll be looking to do again in 2018.

However, according to UT Austin’s Texas Politics Project, Cruz’s job approval rating as of October 2017 was just 19 percent.

Which sets the stage for O’Rourke to step in.

According to the Houston Chronicle, he stands to pull in more individual donations than Cruz, but at the beginning of 2017 had about half the campaign money in his coffers at around $3 million. O’Rourke and company are counting on the Texas’ ‘blue wave’ of newly energized Democratic voters to bring momentum to his 2018 campaign.

“A blue wave is rising in the Lone Star State,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in an interview. “Texas Democrats are marching, organizing, and stepping up to serve.”

O’Rourke will still be running largely on his own steam against a better funded candidate with more data collection capabilities. He’s come out as pro-marijuana legalization and anti-border wall.

Though it’s been over 20 years since a Democrat won a statewide election in Texas, he is continuing his “Town Haulin’ Across Texas” tour, hoping to connect with voters on an individual level.

RELATED: While Houstonians may not feel heard by their junior senator, they can be heard by his campaign opponent this Saturday

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