Democrat who would challenge Republican Ted Cruz for his U.S. Senate seat, Beto O’Rourke, was in Lampasas yesterday. The charismatic West Texan made a noon appearance at the Hostess House in Hancock Park. He had a packed house of mostly Democrats, but there were also a number of curious independents and some typically Republican voting citizens. About 200 people, most of them very enthusiastic, were on hand to fill the room and spill out onto the Hostess House porch.
The El Paso native and a U.S. Representative for the 16th Congressional District, has turned Texas Democrats on fire. After leaving the packed house in Lampasas he went on to Austin and then San Antonio where he overflows rooms everywhere he goes.
At the Lampasas session he never mentioned his opponent, choosing instead to hammer away at the issues on which he’s basing his campaign - immigration reform, support for military families, justice reform, Russian interference in elections, food support for the poor, and coming back again and again to public education and healthcare as fundamental needs for Texas.
O’Rourke reserved some of his harshest criticisms for the Texas Legislature, pointing out that it has been years since there has been even a cost-of-living increase for teacher retirement, and in the last session teacher’s individual healthcare costs more than doubled. He pointed out the difficulty for many teachers to make a living wage, the loss of respect for the teaching profession, and the resulting deterioration of public education.
On healthcare, O’Rourke pointed out that Texas has the highest percentage of persons without health insurance coverage in the nation, and further, that the leading provider of healthcare in Texas for those without health insurance, were jails.
He noted that an extensive study/analysis, commissioned by the Koch Brothers, into the costs of universal healthcare compared to the costs of not having it, found that the costs for universal coverage were far less than continuing the present course.
He went on to talk about the failure of the “war on drugs” and criminalization of addiction, that he says has greatly exacerbated the problem, and provided a vast revenue stream for drug companies and foreign cartels, while removing access to treatment for those most vulnerable who can least afford it.
Finally, Candidate O’Rourke spoke about the current Farm Bill up before Congress. While supporting the beneficial assistance for Texas cotton farmers, essential to the State’s economy, he noted unnecessary cuts to nutritional assistance programs, Meals on Wheels.