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O’Rourke falls to Cruz in tightly contested Senate race

File Photo
Democratic challenger O’Rourke and his wife Amy O’Rourke say their final goodbye after his watch party on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at the Southwest University Park.

Republican incumbent Ted Cruz defeated Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke in the race for Senate on Tuesday night. Thousands of O’Rourke supporters showed for O’Rourke’s watch party in downtown El Paso, ultimately leaving disappointed.

The Texas Senate election was incredibly close—at least between Cruz and O’Rourke—with Cruz taking 51.2 percent of the votes (4,177,665 votes) and O’Rourke taking 48.1 percent (3,923,153 votes) with 93.1 percent of the votes calculated. The libertarian candidate, Neal Dikeman, received 0.8 percent of the votes (63,558 votes). In the 2014 midterm elections, the winning candidate for Texas’s Senate race didn’t even break three million votes, according to data from the New York Times.

The senate race sparked a record-breaking voter turnout in the state of Texas. Considered by Democrats a non-voting state, Texas usually holds one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country. But throughout the challenging 2018 midterms, that has changed.

Anywhere from 6,000 to 7,500 people gathered at Southwest University Park for O’Rourke’s watch party. Supporters of the El Paso native O’Rourke were hopeful upon arrival to the watch party. Many people were confident that O’Rourke would beat out Cruz. People like Monica Alvillar, a research administrator at UTEP. She was handing out “thank you, Beto” stickers to supporters as a token of gratitude for the hope that the candidate has inspired in many Texans. She and her husband have been working on their own version of the grassroots effort.

“I didn’t even think it was possible to feel this hope again and for somebody to bring us together in the way that Beto has,” Alvillar said. “I hope for unity, inclusion, equality for people who feel like they’re on the fringes to feel like their voice is heard.”

That is what many of supporters of O’Rourke felt: a sense of hope. And it showed through the record-breaking voter turnout since the first day of early voting.

Initial reports of the loss started rolling in a little after 8 p.m., with ABC News reporting Cruz as the projected winner. Then followed The Associated Press, confirming that the Republican incumbent had won re-election to U.S. Senate. It didn’t take long for those gathered at Southwest University Park to get word of the news.

“Well it wasn’t what I was hoping for,” said James Britton, an electrical engineer. “You know what? I watched his campaign from the beginning and I think that it’s what makes this country great. (The campaign) brought a level of decency back to the political landscape that it’s been lacking for quite a while. That’s what great about the democracy: the people have spoken, they chose, but everybody’s voice was heard and that’s the important part. So, I think he’ll be back. He’ll be back. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Beto O’Rourke.”

O’Rourke’s love for his hometown and home state has not changed, despite the results of the race. After live musical performances by several artists, O’Rourke finally appeared to face his crowd of supporters to deliver his ‘thank you’ speech. Accompanied by his wife Amy, three children, mother, and sisters, O’Rourke could not help but feel emotional while on stage.

“Thank you all for being with us, being with us every single step of the way,” O’Rourke started, then paused for a moment to hug his wife. “I am as inspired, I’m as hopeful, as I have ever been in my life. And tonight’s loss does nothing to diminish the way that I feel about Texas or this country.”

O’Rourke went on to say that he was proud of what the El Paso community, along with what the rest of the state accomplished during the voting period. He spoke to his supporters for nearly thirteen minutes and then left to be with his family.

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Gaby Velasquez, Photo editor
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O’Rourke falls to Cruz in tightly contested Senate race