After a long history of endorsing Republican candidates, the Houston Chronicle is shifting gears to throw its support behind Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the Democrat challenging GOP Sen. Ted Cruz in the midterm elections.
“With eyes clear but certainly not starry, we enthusiastically endorse Beto O’Rourke for U.S. Senate,” the paper’s editorial board wrote on Friday. “The West Texas congressman’s command of issues that matter to this state, his unaffected eloquence and his eagerness to reach out to all Texans make him one of the most impressive candidates this editorial board has encountered in many years.”
The Chronicle noted that O’Rourke faces difficult odds. The last time Texas elected a Democrat to the Senate was in 1988.
But the race has been closer than expected for red Texas. Polling in the months leading up to the November election has shown O’Rourke and Cruz virtually neck-and-neck. O’Rourke’s campaign has raised more than $38 million, triple what Cruz’s team has collected.
“A ‘Beto’ victory would be good for Texas, not only because of his skills, both personal and political, but also because of the manifest inadequacies of the man he would replace,” the Chronicle wrote. The paper then went on to list some of the ways that Cruz ― whom the editorial board endorsed in 2012 ― has let his state down as a senator.
“Exhibiting little interest in addressing the needs of his fellow Texans during his six years in office, he has kept his eyes on a higher prize,” the Chronicle wrote. The paper continued:
He’s been running for president since he took the oath of office — more likely since he picked up his class schedule as a 15-year-old ninth-grader at Houston’s Second Baptist High School more than three decades ago. For Cruz, public office is a private quest; the needs of his constituents are secondary.
During a town hall discussion on Thursday, O’Rourke addressed rumors that he might also be eyeing the presidency. “The answer is no,” he said.
“Let me put it this way,” he said. “I promise ... the people of Texas that I’ll serve every single day of a six-year term in the United States Senate and I won’t leave this state to go run for president.”