Democrat Beto O'Rourke, still mourning the Texas massacre, gave his long-shot campaign a jolt. He implored a national audience to take action to stop the spread of high-powered guns across America and his home state.
It was 2019, and the ex-congressional candidate was running for president. He declared, during a debate, "Hell yes, we're going to take your AR-15." This was weeks after a gunman targeted Mexican immigrants had killed 23 people at O'Rourke’s El Paso Walmart.
O'Rourke, now running for governor, briefly took the spotlight last week after the murder of 19 elementary school students in Uvalde, Texas by an 18-year old man who used an AR-15-style rifle to kill two teachers. O'Rourke crashed the news conference of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott declared that the carnage was on him in a moment later viewed online.
O'Rourke believes that the tragedy will reset the governor's race for America's most red state, despite Abbott twice winning by landslides. O'Rourke started the campaign with $55million in the bank. Texas' gun culture is larger than anywhere else in Texas.
In 2019, it didn't work. O'Rourke's declaration of debate won him praise on stage from other Democrats and a boost in fundraising. Six weeks later, he quit the race.
Although it's too soon to predict what will happen in Governor's Race, both sides have been affected by the shooting. To remain in Uvalde, Abbott cancelled his planned visit at the annual National Rifle Association gathering. John Cornyn from Texas, a Republican, also skipped the meeting. He is currently negotiating with Democratic colleagues to strengthen background checks and "red Flag" laws that allow authorities to take firearms away from people who are deemed to be a threat to themselves or others.
Abel Prado (executive director of Cambio Texas Democratic advocacy group) said, "I believe it felt catharticfor a lot of people who maybe might have been on and off the fence." It gives you the feeling that at least someone is trying to do something or say something.
O'Rourke spent the night in Uvalde following the shooting and then traveled to Houston to attend a rally against gun violence at the NRA's meeting on Friday.
O'Rourke said to protesters that he would defeat those in power who care less about their power than saving the lives of the people you are supposed to serve .....
O'Rourke supporters hope that he can regain the magic that made him a national Democratic star, and almost defeated Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. O'Rourke's White House bid failed, and former President Donald Trump won Texas in 2020. Democrats, who had hoped for scores of legislative and congressional seats in Texas that year, lost almost every race.
Texas hasn't elected a Democrat governor since 1990. And, last year, Texas relaxed firearm restrictions so that virtually anyone 21 years old or older can carry guns without requiring a license. Along with Wayne LaPierre, NRA CEO, and Carolyn Meadows, the law was signed by Abbott.
The law was not in place when guns were ingrained into Texas culture. Former Republican Governor. After using a laser-sighted handgun while running to kill a coyote, Rick Perry was able to cruise to reelection.
Texas is not unfamiliar with mass shootings. The massacre in Uvalde on Tuesday and the El Paso shootings came after a mass shooting at Santa Fe High School in Houston, which killed eight students and two educators in 2018, and a Sutherland Springs church rampage that killed 25 people and an unborn child the year before.
Jerry Patterson, the former Texas Land Commissioner, was a Republican who is well-known for his habit of carrying multiple guns almost everywhere he went. Patterson said that O'Rourke's most passionate supporters will be "even stronger to vote for Beto" following his confrontation with Abbott.