A recent poll from End Citizens United has delivered shocking news deep in the heart of Texas: a Democrat appears to be closing in on Senator Ted Cruz ahead of November’s election.
The poll shows Senator Cruz still in the lead, but only up by eight points. Some polls had previously shown the conservative incumbent ahead by more than twice that margin.
Beto O’Rourke, who is challenging Senator Cruz, is polling at least as well as a generic Democrat, which is encouraging news for him given how early it is in the race. He is not yet widely known, and the incumbent Republican has relatively high negatives.
End Citizens United appears to have commissioned the poll to generate excitement over what the organization suspects to be true: Senator Cruz could be vulnerable if a Democratic wave strikes in November.
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Founded in 2015, End Citizens United is a response to the controversial Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The outcome of the decision in that case lifted limits on the amounts of money that shadowy groups can spend in support of or against political candidates. Citing free-speech rights for corporations, the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for monied interests to pay for unlimited political advertising.
As a result, End Citizens United supports campaign finance reform. It is organized as a political action committee (PAC) to raise grassroots money for and provide endorsements to candidates who will fight to undo the effects of that Supreme Court decision.
End Citizens United endorsed Beto O’Rourke, and has a growing track record of success. In 2016, it helped elect Maggie Hassan and Catherine Cortez Masto. The PAC has also supported, among others, Zephyr Teachout, Russ Feingold, Elizabeth Warren, and Jon Ossoff.
While many political pundits and organizations believe that the 2018 elections could be big for Democrats, few have seen Texas as a place where left-leaning candidates can be successful. O’Rourke has notched several important endorsements, but End Citizens United might be doing the most so far to boost his chances. Its recent poll is understandably getting a lot of attention, and it might generate serious momentum for O’Rourke.
Currently in his third term as a member of the House of Representatives, O’Rourke represents Texas’s 16th congressional district. The district includes his hometown of El Paso where he previously served on the City Council.
At only 45 years old, O’Rourke is widely seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, particularly given his electoral success in a red state that over time could trend purple.
While a long shot, election to the Senate would catapult O’Rourke even further along in his career, and it would have a significant impact on Texas and on Congress.