It’s a full day after Ted Cruz illuminated up the internet for allegedly liking a hardcore porn account’s tweet on Sept. 12, and I’m on the phone with his 2018 Texas Senate opponent, Beto O’Rourke. So, of course, I bring it up. Cruz is known for his “evangelical voting conscience, ” which, in Texas, is the short-form slang for a few key issues.

Cruz is anti-health care access, anti-choice for women, and has only one unwavering passion for gun rights that was initially supported by the NRA on the senate level, but faded speedily once the organization backed Trump’s 2016 presidential ticket instead.( Cruz still walked away with $36,000 in gifts from the NRA in 2016, and was a key talker at a 2017 NRA event .) In reference to the issue at hand — the tweet — I should point out that Cruz once pulled a campaign ad he filmed after detecting one of the actors had appeared in softcore porn times earlier.

But O’Rourke, unsurprisingly, isn’t fazed by the Cruz headlines. In reality, he’s not even attaches great importance. Over the phone for an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, he tells me, in reference to the tweet, “Yesterday was our first day back in DC and we’re — as you can imagine — doing our very best to try and make sure we’re responding to those who have been hurt by[ Hurricane] Harvey and now[ Hurricane] Irma in Florida. I just have not had a lot of time to get online and to see that.” He adds, “But I don’t take any exuberance out of anyone else’s misfortune.”

And was that on Ted Cruz.

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It’s hard, nonetheless, to talk about O’Rourke without bringing up his political antagonist. After all, Cruz has been contributing the Texas Senate since his election in 2012, and the Texas senator was a major talking degree in the 2016 presidential election, though he ultimately “ve lost my” Republican primary to now-President Donald Trump. Cruz is also notably detested within his own party. Former Senate majority leader Trent Lott once called out the style Cruz handled himself on the Senate floor for calling Mitch McConnell a liar, and former President George W. Bush once said, “I simply don’t like the guy.” O’Rourke stands in opposition to just about one of Cruz’s political beliefs. For starters , O’Rourke is pro-choice, supports equal access to healthcare, and is looking to legalize marijuana.

O’Rourke is also gaining notoriety, and not only due to his contrasting political POVs. Before he was first elected to the House of Representative in 2012, O’Rourke was a businessman in El Paso, Texas. Nonetheless, before that, O’Rourke was a punk rocker. In reality, there are still grainy videos of O’Rourke and his band, Foss, floating around YouTube, and one of Foss’ ex-members( Cedric Bixler-Zavala) even went on to join the bands Mars Volta and At the Drive-In. O’Rourke was on bass and vocals, and in true punk-rock, Kurt-Cobain fashion, even shows up in what appears to be a floral dress on the band’s album cover.

Somewhere in Texas, you can practically hear Cruz’s shuddering in his pantsuit.

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Looking back, O’Rourke’s band periods may have served as his first foray into politics, long before even he realise it. He says being around others in the music scene who were putting out their own music, booking their own tours, and publishing their own zines had a huge affect on him. “It only demonstrated the power that we all have when we just decide to take affairs into our own hands[ and not] wait for someone else to do it, ” he says.

O’Rourke is looking to that same “power of the people” mindset to help fund his campaign for Senate. He’s been vocal about his refusal to accept Political action committee( PAC) money, which, he says simmer down to the fact that “special interests don’t have a home” in his campaign. In fact, he’s so against PAC involvement in campaigns that O’Rourke even introduced the No PAC Act into congress.

PAC money isn’t precisely Texas’ biggest problem. Although a Democrat hasn’t been elected to the Texas Senate since 1994, Republican aren’t exactly the problem, either. “Texas isn’t a ruby-red government or a blue country, it’s a non-voting government, ” O’Rourke tells me. He points to gerrymandering — representatives having the power to draw literal re-zoning lines, which dedicates them the power to choose their voters and not the other way around — as the make. This means that those congressmen and women only have to appeal to their voters; hence, little change actually get induced. “If you don’t feel like your poll is going to count and you feel like the system is rigged, why would you trash your time voting? ”

Texas was number five on Huffpo’s 2016 listing of top 10 nations with the lowest voter turnout. According to O’Rourke, “the way the system works right now is, literally, each member of Congress choose their voters instead of the other way around, so I think young people get that that’s not the lane it’s supposed to work.”

Although gerrymandering has been going on for years, it only recently gained attention as a constitutional trouble. The State supreme court is set to hear a instance on the issue in October with involving alleged unconstitutional redistricting in Wisconsin from 2011. With mainly Democrats backing the case and a few Republicans( John McCain, to be precise) giving their support, purposing the issue could be closer than we envision. But O’Rourke doesn’t have time to kill waiting.

Gerrymandering is one of the biggest issues he learns in Texas that he quite literally can’t be staying with. If Texas is a “non-voting state, ” as he calls it, then it’s fated to recur a cycle of electing representatives who simply don’t listen to the needs of their peers. It’s what motivated his run and decision to reject PAC money in the first place. He craves voters to be involved in the democratic process again.

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Of course , now we’re all pondering the same thing: Does O’Rourke have a shot at unseating Cruz? As we find with the November 2016 presidential election, elections are hard to pinpoint. But as we also learnt as the purposes of the 2016 election, people are starting to take more notification at what’s going on. are the people O’Rourke wants to talk to.

O’Rourke first began his fight for the Senate in mid-2 017 , a full time ahead of the November 2018 elections. Instead of operating a campaign centered on calling out Cruz’s “flaws, ” O’Rourke is focusing on what matters: Texans. By the time we talk on the phone about his campaign, he’s just recently finished a 34 -day tour across Texas, where he visited small towns and met with supporters and critics alike. When Hurricane Harvey made, he headed to Houston. “We’re going to the places where people often feel like perhaps they are forgotten or their voices aren’t being heard, ” O’Rourke says.

In his first one-quarter as a candidate alone, O’Rourke has already created $2.1 million ,~ ATAGEND a startling figure, especially when compared to Cruz, who has only elevated $1.6 million. Another jaw plummeting number? Cruz kicked off the Senate race with $5.7 million available for campaign expenses. O’Rourke, nonetheless, started with a modest $1.9 million.

Recent polls prove close numbers between Cruz and O’Rourke. An April 2017 poll completed by Lyceum of 897 people throughout Texas listed O’Rourke’s approval at 30 percent — corresponding to Cruz’s. Speaking with such a small sampling of Texans( a state that boasts 15 million eligible voters ), it’s hard to say exactly who voters are backing, but such strong numbers could bode well for O’Rourke in the future.

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But if the first year of O’Rourke’s campaign is any show of what’s to come, it’s safe to say more recognition of the liberal from Texas will merely pick up from here. He quotes young people, especially those just graduating high school or beginning their jobs, as some of the most severe Texans he’s encountered in so far. He mentions that Trump’s refusal to legitimately address growing concerns about climate change and his insistence on overruling Obama-era protections on net neutrality are at the forefront of young people’s heads, and O’Rourke is not just taken due note — he’s listening.

“It’s been incredibly encouraging to see[ young people’s] concern, ” he says. “It gives me some very strong cause for optimism going forward.”

If the most unsettling aspect of the political scenery in Texas isn’t concern over whether it’s “red” or “blue, ” but more the fact that it’s silent, then O’Rourke’s biggest challenge now is to construct some interference. As someone who once thrashed in a punk band on local TV, current challenges, it seems, is one he’s already accepted.

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