Beto O’Rourke has pledged to visit voters in all 254 Texas counties, most deeply Republican. Could this neighborly approach give an outsider the edge?
Late in the afternoon of the last Friday in May, as the temperature soared over 100F (38C), the Democratic nominee for Senate in Texas was going door to door. There were not many doors to knock on: Mentone, in Loving county in the far west of the state, is home to perhaps two dozen people. But Beto O’Rourke had come as part of a pledge to visit all 254 counties, in his bid to unseat the Republican Ted Cruz.
Unanimously, political analysts say the 45-year-old is a long-shot to reach the Senate. Cruz is a conservative leader who finished second to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential primary. Texas hasn’t sent a Democrat to the Senate since Lloyd Bentsen in 1988, when O’Rourke was in high school. The party hasn’t won a statewide race since 1994.