Choose from two. Two candidates to represent Texas in the Senate of the United States of America.

Two political parties. Two. Too much? Too hard to choose? It depends. . . on your decision for youth vs age, or Texas born and bred vs Canadian born.

Each choice presented himself to the Valley recently (the younger challenger, Beto O’Rourke, on Tuesday, May the 1st, 2018, traditional Labor Day; the older, incumbent, Ted Cruz, on Saturday, April 7th.)

I missed the Cruz rally. It was covered adequately by Valley media. I attended the Beto rally. Approximately 150 people attended in the stunning new HEB soccer stadium, Edinburg. Little security was apparent or necessary. The crowd was cheerful and hopeful. One man—not young but not old – confided: “we finally have a candidate the Valley can get behind wholeheartedly.”

Mariachis warmed up the crowd. Local políticos were in abundance. Beto arrived, in shirtsleeves. Photos were easy because he is a great deal taller than many surrounding him in the crowd. And, yes, he dutifully held a charming baby so that the Mom could take a selfie. Beto is a 3rd term Democratic Congressman and spoke of how safe is his city. He reminded us how most folks up-state and out of state don’t know the reality of the border.

His focus? Beto spoke of the large number of vets in the Valley and the need for urgent reform and improvement in national help for their needs. He emphasized, as he does at every stop, he takes no “PAC” monies, so he will not be beholden to any wealthy special interests. Nevertheless, he has, so far, doubled Cruz’s collected contributions. But he, in no way, underestimates the power of incumbency, despite Cruz’s negatives, even within his own Republican Party. (Polls show Beto within three points of the older Cruz, statistically a draw.)

Your final decision (and vote in November) will depend, partly, on how deeply you feel about the current President and how you reconcile Cruz’s initial rejection of him, and, now, his embrace of Trump. Perhaps, for a voter in south Texas, you will feel also quite strongly about the “Wall,” which both Trump and Cruz support, and which Beto opposes. You will calculate, before you vote, paying for the huge “border wall.”

The Wall actually shrinks the size of Texas; it cuts Texans off from our own river; and it takes private property for perhaps less than fair compensation. Beto registered his resistance to those calamities. The crowd reacted with enthusiastic support. They know and he knows the importance of the increasing influence of the south Texas vote. The southern Texans love his apodo—“Beto,” his nickname, his fluent Spanish and his youth.

There is something else. Whispers, sharing a common recognition, ran through the crowd when Beto entered. On his way to the podium, to join the mariachis, Beto passed my friend, a Vietnam vet, tough and realistic. But he confessed, as Beto walked right by him, he felt a shiver, the hairs on his arms tingled. Why? Beto bore a striking resemblance, many in the crowd had seen, to another Robert—Bobby Kennedy. The combination of youth and firmness—and the desire for change—was openly expressed; it was overwhelming. The word is out. Youth is old again. Age is young again.

Conversation with the Candidates

Beto O'Rourke, the 2018 Democratic senatorial candidate for Texas, stopped by Juice Up in Pharr to speak with the Rio Grande Guardian about NAFTA, DACA, his campaign to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz, and more.

Posted by Rio Grande Guardian on Saturday, May 5, 2018