O’Rourke rallies large crowd at Lubbock Civic Center

Updated: Oct. 29, 2018 at 5:52 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Clad in an open-collar white dress shirt and a black “Double T” baseball cap, Senate hopeful Beto O’Rourke rallied his base Monday afternoon at the Lubbock Civic Center.

The standing-room-only crowd that spilled out onto the foyer of the Moe Turner Banquet Hall had words such as “electric” used to describe it.

O’Rourke said he came to Lubbock to say thank you, and based on the crowd’s reaction, they more than received the welcome. “It was very important for us to come back another time before this (the election) is decided on the 6th and thank the people of Lubbock for making it possible,” O’Rourke told a gathered crowd of cameras before he went up to speak.

KCBD asked O’Rourke what he would say to undecided rural voters as November 6 looms. “I want to tell the people of this community, and every surrounding community, the reason I’m here and the reason I keep coming back and showing up, is that you’re important to me. I want to represent you, I want to serve you. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re a Republican, or a Democrat or Independent, I want to make sure every day in the senate we fight for you.”

While predominately a younger college-aged crowd, O’Rourke commanded a cross-section of voters from across Lubbock County, including retired educator John Gatica of Slaton. “It felt like a presidential rally,” Gatica said of the roughly 50-minute speech.

Gatica said he had been to a number of political rallies, including hearing former President Barack Obama speak in 2008. “The energy was there...” he said in comparing Monday’s event. “His enthusiasm is contagious, and his presence sent a message to us that we were important.”

If that ‘energy’ is anything to gauge, the race will continue to be close right up until election night. There were a number of people with signs, t-shirts with Beto slogans, and a nearly mob-like scene when the candidate walked out of the hall and into the overflow crowd.

“In my 56 years in Lubbock as a Democrat this is the largest turnout for any candidate for any election I have ever seen," said longtime Lubbock resident Tom McGovern. “It’s such a wonderful, wonderful event.”

McGovern said he was energized by the young people in the crowd, something echoed by both organizers and attendees.

Not everyone at today’s rally was there because of their love for the candidate. Ron Nehring is a longtime Republican strategist and adviser for Senator Ted Cruz. He spoke to the media following the event and admitted the race is a competitive one, but said he would not want to trade places with O’Rourke heading into the last week. “West Texas is critically important for this race."

“Issue after issue there are big differences between these candidates,” said Nehring.

And with the announcement his Lockney rally has been moved to Lubbock on Wednesday, undecided Lubbock County voters will have a chance to see Cruz in person.

MORE: Cruz moves Wednesday afternoon campaign event to Lubbock

But as for O’Rourke’s crowd Monday afternoon, many of these voters seem to have made their decision.

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