Published: Apr 4, 2017, 3:21 pm • Updated: Apr 4, 2017, 3:53 pm
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke kicked off his longshot bid to unseat Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on Friday, vowing an unscripted and unconventional campaign that could catch voters’ imagination at a moment when Democrats are eager to go on offense against the Trump administration.
“We need to meet this fear, this anxiety, this paranoia that’s coming out of the White House — that’s gripping so much of this country — with a strength and a confidence that can only come from Texas,” O’Rourke told enthusiastic supporters at a rooftop rally in his hometown of El Paso.
The 44-year-old third-term congressman is the kind of rising political star Democrats hope can help begin turning red Texas blue, aided by a booming Hispanic population and state politics pushed even farther right by Trump and Cruz. He first made a name for himself playing guitar for Foss, an El Paso rock band that included drummer Cedric Bixler-Zavala, who went on to play for the Grammy Award-winning act The Mars Volta.
He has advocated for legalizing marijuana and wrote a book decrying the federal government’s war on drugs. On Friday, he talked about the opioid addiction crisis sweeping much of the country, noted that many states have stopped filling prisons by “locking up marijuana convictions” and said, “We have an opportunity to end this failed war