Introduction: You know from my past articles here at OpEdNews how much this Battle of the Editorial Pages has truly come to mean; for most pundits and political practitioners, this is a quiet sleeper of a focus that has panned out in a certain kind of victory, and will be used much more often in the gear up to 2020. I will be extending coverage on these Texas endorsements as they come in. In an article by Alternet's Matthew Chapman, this is summed it up well:
With this endorsement, O'Rourke -- who has become a nationwide celebrity with his grassroots, populist campaign -- now has the backing of the primary daily papers in all of Texas' three largest cities.
T he San Antonio Express-News endorsed O'Rourke earlier this month, citing Cruz's disastrous 2013 government shutdown to defund Obamacare. This was shortly followed by an endorsement from the Houston Chronicle -- which seemed to particularly sting Cruz, as Houston is his hometown and they endorsed him last time. That endorsement prompted him to lash out on Twitter, saying that the "left-wing Chron" backed "every single Dem they think has even a prayer of winning."
Recent polls of the Texas Senate race show Cruz favored, but his lead tightening somewhat. Early voting is underway, and turnout is surging -- including in all of the above cities.
This is what the Dallas Morning News Editorial Board had to say:
When, in the course of human events, a people become so divided among themselves that they can no longer engage in meaningful political discourse or even remain civil to one another, it is time to take bold steps forward.
In looking at the race for United States Senate in Texas, we recognize that this country stands on a precipice. Whether we fall off the edge depends on how we answer this question: Can we set policy differences aside, even for a moment, and agree to treat each other with the respect befitting a great nation, with acknowledgment of the humanity of each person?
We have been at divisive political moments before, and we know those often end when leaders emerge who find ways to get along personally even when they are engaged in grand, tectonic political debates. That is one of the underappreciated stories of the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan and House Speaker Tip O'Neill worked together. Even when they fought it out on tough issues, they fostered an enduring friendship.
For this reason more than any other, we favor U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke for U.S. Senate. The pivotal issue before our country is public leadership, and here we believe O'Rourke's tone aligns with what is required now. This inclusive and hopeful tone, along with O'Rourke's approach of starting with shared principles and working toward solutions, offset any policy differences we have with him. Leadership is more than policy, and whether we are addressing the very real challenges before us now turns on our ability to find points of agreement.
In this respect, O'Rourke is the stronger candidate. In conducting his campaign, he has displayed a demeanor that offers respect for each person and a humbleness that will allow him to open the door to working with those who hold political views different from his. We believe O'Rourke is right in calling for rejoining the Paris climate accord, supporting the vast potential of renewable energy in Texas, and calling for universal background checks on guns. He is also right to reject the call for construction of a border wall and to call for comprehensive and fair immigration reform.
By contrast, through his actions in Washington and his rhetoric from Iowa to New Hampshire and beyond, incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz has distinguished himself as a cutting figure in today's politics. Lincoln, echoing the Gospel of Mark, cautioned us long ago that a house divided against itself cannot stand. And we believe that at this moment, we cannot afford such an approach.
That is not to say that Cruz doesn't arrive to this debate with a host of policy positions that we are deeply devoted to. On economic policy, for example, we supported the president's tax cuts that Cruz voted for. And we stand with Cruz in looking to remove federal regulations that stifle job creation. Removing barriers to American employment and prosperity is itself an act of compassion.
We were also moved by Cruz when he told us about meeting with the students from Santa Fe High School after the shooting there. In those comments he listed a number of ideas on how to curb such attacks, including an idea we supported this year to create a unit in the Justice Department to find holes in the background system before they are exploited by the next shooter. He also supports political dissidents who push for human freedom abroad, support that we share as we look for ways to ground American foreign policy in a set of guiding principles that will rally others to our cause.
But there is a set of principles we would like to restore in domestic politics that starts with building political bridges. Before he became Cruz's challenger, O'Rourke was a congressman best known outside of El Paso for road-tripping across Texas and up to Washington with Republican Congressman Will Hurd. The two had serious differences, but their camaraderie and their willingness to discuss compromise were a brief antidote to the political poison seeping out of the capital.
O'Rourke largely framed his campaign around the spirit of the road trip with just a few notable exceptions. Those include saying he would vote to impeach the president, thereby putting himself in favor of what would be one of the most divisive fights in politics. At the end of the campaign he also broke with his approach to repeat an insulting nickname Donald Trump once slapped on Cruz. These are blemishes on his campaign.
O'Rourke is no conservative Democrat. His positions on taxes, immigration, the judiciary, federal regulations and health care are further to the left than many statewide voters would like. But he is shattering expectations in a state where Democrats haven't won a statewide race in decades. The dollars he has raised and the number of supporters he has garnered are evidence of an embedded hunger in this state and country for a campaign that's based on unifying communities.
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