For Beto O’Rourke, Talk of Gun Control Has Become Both a Political Risk and Reward

 

“He is annoyed similar to me, similar to everybody else,” mentioned State Senator Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat who represents Uvalde and who made his personal interruption at one other Abbott information convention, urging the governor to name for a particular session of the Texas Legislature to cross gun-control laws.

Mr. O’Rourke’s marketing campaign for governor is an uphill battle that some say stays all however unattainable in Texas, the place Republicans have a stable grip on state energy.

No Democrat has gained a statewide race in Texas since November 1994 and no Democrat has occupied the governor’s mansion since January 1995, the final day of Gov. Ann W. Richards’s tenure. Despite years of Democratic guarantees of a blue wave, Texas retains passing and imposing some of probably the most conservative insurance policies within the nation. Democratic organizers proceed to grapple with low voter turnout as Republicans have made features in South Texas border cities. And within the governor’s race, Mr. Abbott has a important monetary benefit — he had almost $50 million in money available in comparison with Mr. O’Rourke’s roughly $6.8 million as of Feb. 19, in line with the latest Texas Ethics Commission filings.

“Their prospects are bleak,” mentioned Cal Jillson, a political analyst and professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “In a good yr, they will win some down-ballot places of work and even some Texas state legislative seats, however they haven’t been in a position to break by means of statewide, and 2022 just isn’t shaping as much as be a good yr.”

For the longtime Democratic strategists and activists who’ve been working to show the state blue, latest electoral contests have left them directly optimistic and nervous. Mr. O’Rourke’s Senate bid in 2018 re-energized the occasion and helped sway down-ballot races in favor of Democrats as he got here inside three proportion factors of unseating Senator Ted Cruz.

But Texas Republicans had been aided by increased turnout in smaller counties within the 2020 election, and these largely rural areas have been shifting much more to the appropriate. In a Republican main runoff for legal professional basic two weeks in the past, Ken Paxton, the Trump-backed incumbent, trounced George P. Bush, the state’s land commissioner and the final member of the Bush household nonetheless in public workplace.

Mr. O’Rourke, the previous El Paso congressman, has solid the race between himself and Mr. Abbott as a selection between previous management beholden to the gun foyer and his imaginative and prescient for a state the place “weapons of battle” are faraway from civilian life. At the Dallas discussion board on Wednesday, he mentioned he had rushed the stage to confront the governor in Uvalde as a result of he wished somebody had performed the identical after a mass capturing at a Walmart in his hometown of El Paso in 2019.


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