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U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso (left), and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz at their respective election night rallies on Nov. 6, 2018. O’Rourke was in El Paso. Cruz was in Houston.

Ivan Pierre Aguirre: O’Rourke/Bob Daemmrich: Cruz

How the race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke became the closest in Texas in 40 years


That was the reaction back in late 2016 from former Houston Mayor Annise Parker when she first heard that a sophomore Democratic congressman from El Paso named Beto O’Rourke was mulling a challenge to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. Parker, like most other Texans, had absolutely no clue who O’Rourke was, or why she should take seriously his potential entry into a race that many Democrats viewed as a suicide mission.

Almost exactly two years later, O’Rourke fell roughly 220,000 votes short out of 8.3 million of unseating Cruz, closer to winning a statewide office than any Texas Democrat in a generation. The strength of his candidacy helped Texas Democrats pick up two U.S. House seats, two state Senate seats and a dozen state House seats.

And it turned the congressman from El Paso into a national political phenomenon.



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