LUFKIN, Texas — Democrat Beto O'Rourke is continuing his campaign across Texas as he hopes to unseat Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott.
O'Rourke is hoping to turn out voters from both big cities and small towns, even in some of the state's most conservative areas. It's these solidly red places that he's been packing his truck and campaigning to and from.
He's drawing crowds wherever he goes, some for him and some against.
"You said you're not supporting Beto O'Rourke," KHOU 11's Gerald Harris asked to one person attending an event hosted by the gubernatorial hopeful.
“No, no but I think it’s important to have that conversation," responded Cat Bailes. "You know, if you want to go against something, you got to know what you’re against.”
But the former Senate candidate knows all too well the need to push out votes wherever he can.
“Gov. Greg Abbott is going to certainly prevail and certainly East Texas is a big part of that strength," Republican strategist Vlad Davidiuk said.
But O'Rourke isn't ignoring East Texas communities.
“We need to do better, they’re coming out to listen to me. When they hear our agenda - world-class schools, great jobs, fixing the grid and ensuring everybody can see a provider - that’s one that they can get behind," O'Rourke said.
From gun policies, including expanded background checks, and potentially preventing the next mass shooting, to abortion access, O'Rourke is making his case in many counties in East Texas where former President Donald Trump won nearly 70 percent or more of the votes.
"That gunman in Uvalde bought not one, but two AR-15s, a weapon originally designed for use in war," O'Rourke said. "I'm going to sit at the table, with Republicans as well as Democrats, to find out how we can roll back this total abortion ban."
O'Rourke will turn his focus to the Houston area next as he goes down the final stretch of his 5,600-mile journey campaigning across Texas.
Meanwhile, Gov. Abbott's office said he was in Uvalde on Friday, "to meet with victims’ families privately to ensure they are receiving all the resources and support needed to heal."
"The Governor has been to the community multiple times, visiting with every family who requested a meeting and joining his fellow Texans to grieve and worship at events into June. Gov. Abbott and his office remain in regular contact with local leaders to ensure all immediate needs for victims’ families and the Uvalde community are being met," a spokesperson for Gov. Abbott said.