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Beto O’Rourke tells San Antonio crowd he wants to unite Texas as he runs to unseat Greg Abbott 

Beto O'Rourke presses the flesh at Tuesday morning's campaign appearance in San Antonio. - MERADITH GARCIA
  • Meradith Garcia
  • Beto O'Rourke presses the flesh at Tuesday morning's campaign appearance in San Antonio.
Beto O'Rourke appeared in San Antonio Tuesday, a day after launching his latest political campaign, and urged residents to help him become the first Democrat to win a spot in the Texas Governor's Mansion since 1990.

The former El Paso congressman told a cheering crowd that he supports common sense policies Texans can unite around, among them addressing climate change, legalizing marijuana and protecting abortion rights.

Those policies put him in sharp opposition to Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who's led the traditionally red state on a hard-right push during his current term, signing bills to ban virtually all abortions, legalize open carry of firearms and make it harder to vote.

"I don't come here to talk at you, to tell what I am going to do," O'Rourke said. "I come here to seek partnership and collaboration and find out how we are going to work together again, bridge these divides and get Texas back on the right track and be big again in this state."

The 8:30 a.m. rally, billed as a “thank you" to frontline workers, took place at the Communications Workers of America building downtown, and O'Rourke pledged to give labor groups including the AFL-CIO a seat at the table if he's elected.

O'Rourke is arguably Texas' highest-profile Democrat, having come within three points of unseating U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz during a headline-grabbing 2018 race. However, the El Paso politician floundered in his bid to win the 2020 presidential nomination and now faces an incumbent armed with a $55 million war chest.

During his speech, O'Rourke acknowledged the tough fight ahead. He told attendees that if they want to see him win, it's imperative that they donate and knock on doors.

"We're going everywhere, we're talking to everyone," he said. "You cannot be too rural, you cannot be too big city, too border, too blue, too red for this campaign."

Following his speech, O'Rourke passed the microphone to Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who said he welcomed having a potential partner running the state. During the pandemic, San Antonio and other large Texas cities frequently battled Abbott in court over their authority to issue mask orders and other safety protocols.

"We've been pulling together to get through, and here we are today to support somebody who we know is going to be working with us instead of against us," Nirenberg said.

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January 12, 2022

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