by Justin Miller
November 5, 2018
It’s been a whirlwind of an election season here in Texas. The race between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke has attracted the gaze of the entire country, including the national political press. Over the past several months, I’ve followed both candidates all around the state — from blockwalking with Beto canvassers along the border and covering Trump’s MAGA rally in Houston to tracking their competing events on the same day in East Texas.
As I’ve covered this race on the ground, I’ve talked to Texas voters on both sides about what they think of the state of the country and the upcoming elections. What follows is a collection of some of the people I encountered along the way, and what they have to say.
From left to right, Beto field organizer Anali Barrera, former Webb County Democratic Party Chair Sergio Mora and El Paso congressional candidate Veronica Escobar on a block walk in Laredo’s Hillside neighborhood — part of the Beto Border Surge tour organized by Escobar in August. “For me, I cannot imagine the shame of a loss for Beto and having low border turnout. Shame on us if that were to happen,” Escobar said.
As Beto has grown more and more popular, his campaign events have turned into a spectacle. Early in the morning on the first day of early voting in Houston, he was mobbed by supporters — he briefly held up traffic and at one point his aides had to form a human chain around him to keep him moving through the crowd.
John Dawson is an out-of-work air conditioning mechanic who’s taking time to raise his two boys. He recently got an email from the Beto campaign asking him to volunteer. It turns out there was a pop-up office right down the street from his home in Sunnyside, a predominately black neighborhood on Houston’s South Side. “It’s the younger ones that I’m worried about. Are they aware of the implications if we lose this state?” Dawson said.
Just down the street from a Beto rally in Longview, Texas, Marty Rhymes and some fellow Gregg County Republicans milled about in the party headquarters, dismissing the notion of a blue wave in Texas while Rush Limbaugh ranted on the radio in the background. “It’s amazing how many people don’t want to be called Democrats anymore,” Rhymes said.
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have a notoriously troubled past. But at their joint October rally in Houston, The Donald replaced Cruz’s old nickname of “Lyin’ Ted” with the more benevolent “Beautiful Ted.”
Billy Barker was one of the thousands of Trump supporters to attend the president’s rally for Ted Cruz in Houston in October. Signs included “Finish the Wall,” “Jobs Not Mobs” and “Keep America Great.”
Ted Cruz’s campaign events are often filled with smaller, older crowds than you would typically find at a Beto rally. And — like this late August stop in Blanco — they’re usually held at a local barbecue joint.
Meet voters, politicians and activists in the slideshow below.