BEAUMONT, Texas — Could Southeast Texas make a difference in the governor's race next year? It's clear both of the frontrunners think so.
Gov. Greg Abbott and former congressman Beto O’Rourke both came to Beaumont this week to rally their supporters and hopefully sway some undecided voters.
O’Rourke faces an uphill battle. A recent poll shows that Abbott is in a double-digit lead if they face off next year. The Democrat came to rally supporters ahead of next November’s election.
He covered topics ranging from jobs, schools, and health care.
Roughly 300 people gathered at Luke’s Icehouse to hear O’Rourke talk about why he's running for governor.
“We are so defined right now by our differences and our divisions and the things that set us apart from one another. And it's making it really hard for us to move forward on the things that we really care about,” O’Rourke said.
His goal is to turn Texas blue by moving the state forward as one.
“To win this election. We have got to have every single one of us on the team,” O’Rourke said.
After his speech, the ex-congressman was asked about the hot-button issues that Southeast Texans want to know.
He believes we can protect the second amendment and the lives of people in the state.
“What we need to do a better job of is actually listening to law enforcement on this issue,” O’Rourke said. “They have asked Gov. Abbott not to sign into law a permitless carry bill. He did so nonetheless, it allows tens of thousands of people who were denied a license to carry because they were a danger to themselves.”
If elected for governor, O’Rourke said he wants to legalize marijuana. That made the crowd go wild.
“Not only legalized marijuana but expunged those arrest records,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke said he was intentional about his stop in Beaumont.
“The Golden Triangle is so important for this state,” O’Rourke said. “I mean whether you're looking at energy or jobs, I've been listening to a lot of these great school teachers who are here, the future of public education you find it right here in these communities where we are today.”
O’Rourke plans to mount a door-knocking campaign, but he has work to do. The latest poll shows 54 percent of Texans think he's too liberal.