Congressman Beto O’Rourke stopped in Odessa on Monday for a town hall meeting at Los Arcos Ballroom. This was O’Rourke’s second visit to Odessa in his campaign for U.S. Senate.
The ballroom was hot as more people entered, passed the sign-in and voter registration tables and sat on one of 240 folding chairs lined up by the stage. The seats were quickly filled and people started standing in the back or along the sides of the room. Children were handing out cards for Jennie Lou Leeder, a Democrat running for 11th Congressional District, and cards for O’Rourke.
After some technical difficulties with the speaker system, Leeder opened for O’Rourke. She discussed the importance of “people willing to reach across and work together” in Washington D.C. Leeder is running against the incumbent, Mike Conaway of Midland, who recently received a donation from President Donald Trump, according to a Texas Tribune story.
Leeder is running on the platform of providing health care for all Americans, providing annual raises for teachers and a need for rural infrastructure, especially when 39 percent of Americans don’t have access to broadband internet.
Joanna Hadjicostandi, a professor of sociology at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, gave opening remarks for O’Rourke. She talked about his many talents and how he wants every Texan to have a job to support his or her family.
O’Rourke said Texas is a “big, bold spirit against bigotry” and is the most diverse state in the U.S.
“Immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers give more than they ever take,” he said.
The representative from El Paso has raised $10.4 million in the second quarter, compared to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, who has raised $4.6 million. O’Rourke said he has raised these funds through small donations and did not take “a single dime from corporations.”
O’Rourke, who has visited all 254 counties, then took questions.
When asked why he wouldn’t endorse Gina Jones, the Democratic nominee for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, he discussed his friendship with incumbent Will Hurd and how they have worked across the aisle to support each other on important bills. Other questions included concerns over water in West Texas, his accessibility to constituents and their opinions if he was elected, and the possibility of a debate with Cruz.
O’Rourke, who will be facing Cruz in the November general election, said a debate is being discussed. He said Cruz has suggested Friday nights in the fall for a debate. He also said he would like to have some debates in Spanish so everyone able to participate.