Over 1,800 Houstonians visited Imagen Venues Tuesday night to see gubernatorial candidate Beto O’ Rourke, Democratic Attorney General candidate Rochelle Garza, and Broadway star Lin-Manuel Miranda Get Out the Vote rally ahead of the November election.
Although he’s a native New Yorker, Miranda said he came to Houston to speak to young and Latino voters to emphasize why the Texas midterm elections are so important.
“I’m here because I believe Latinos can change this country,” Miranda said. “We are our brother’s keepers and our sister’s keepers, and we are supposed to have each other’s back. It always seems impossible until it is done.”
Next, Garza highlighted her career as an immigration and abortion rights attorney and shredded her opponent, indicted incumbent Republican Ken Paxton for his record and mishaps with the law. Paxton has been indicted for seven years without a trial and is currently under FBI investigation.
She noted a 2018 case, Garza vs. Hargan, where the court ruled in her favor to notify teens in immigration custody that they have the right to access abortion and privacy.
“The law is a tool: it can build or destroy, and I want to use it to build,” Garza said. “We’re going to return this office to the people of Texas because I answer to you. You all are my client. This is the public defender of Texas.”
And if elected, Garza said she wants to change the direction of the state AG’s office and encouraged Latino voters to recognize their political power.
“40 percent of this state is Latino, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you don’t have power,” she said. “We are at a crossroads in Texas; there are so many rights on the line right now, and the way that we take it back, the way we take back Texas is together in community.”
According to the latest poll, Garza trails Paxton by two to three points.
Some critical issues for Garza, if elected, include creating a full-funded state Civil Rights Division, restoring abortion access, and working with the governor to expand voter access.
Garza would be the first Latino and woman to hold the state’s attorney general office with a win.
And in his last major Houston rally, O’Rourke listed policy positions to voters, including expanding Medicaid, raising the minimum age to buy an assault rifle to 21 years old, legalizing marijuana, creating guest worker programs for undocumented immigrants, undoing the state restrictive abortion ban, weatherizing the electric grid, and expanding access to the ballot box.
Furthermore, he promises to raise the minimum wage to $15, increase teachers’ pay, end the state’s standardized test, invest in the child foster care system, and stray from targeting families with transgender children.
O’Rourke also said it’s time for Texas to value the younger generations and pass gun safety legislation.
In his speech, O’ Rourke specifically acknowledged Rhonda Hart, who lost her 14-year-old daughter Kimberly Vaughn in the Sante Fe mass shooting, and Brett Cross, who lost his 10-year-old son Uziyah Garcia in the Uvalde mass shooting, for attending the event and fighting for gun safety legislation.
According to reports, gun violence is the leading cause of death across the country, especially among teenagers and young adults. Texas also leads the nation for the most mass shootings, a majority in the last eight years under Abbott’s term.
“We must pull through and prioritize their bodies ahead of the NRA or the gun lobby or any politician in the state of Texas,” he said.
The crowd erupted after O’Rourke highlighted the 700 Texans who died after the state’s energy grid failed in February 2021. Instead of weatherizing the grid, his opponent Republican Greg Abbott received bribes from energy corporations.
“[Abbott’s] best buddies and his top campaign contributors literally make billions of dollars, 11 billion dollars made by energy traders and pipeline corporations,” O’Rourke said. “This grid is still not fixed. We’re no better going into this next winter than we came out of the last one, and each of us is paying higher electricity bills as a result.”
O’Rourke also attacked Abbott and Paxton for their polarizing policies while in office. He said he promises a different future with hope and unity at the forefront.
“He wants us to be afraid of each other and divide us based on our differences from one another,” O’ Rourke said. “It’s all of us together here in Texas; we’re going to do this by and for each other.”
Other speakers in attendance were State Sen. Carol Alvarado, Congresswoman Slyvia Garcia, and potential TX-35 Congressman Greg Casar.
Early voting for this race is on Oct. 24, and election day is Nov. 8.
Photo: Kennedy Sessions / © Texas Signal Media Company