Fort Worth

Beto O’Rourke will hold campaign rally in Fort Worth

Beto O’Rourke thanks supporters after losing Senate race to Ted Cruz

Democrat Beto O'Rourke thanks supporters in El Paso, Texas after losing Senate race to Ted Cruz.
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Democrat Beto O'Rourke thanks supporters in El Paso, Texas after losing Senate race to Ted Cruz.

Editor’s note: The location of Friday night’s event in the story has been changed. O’Rourke’s campaign sent out an advisory Thursday afternoon with a new location.

Democrat Beto O’Rourke will hold a campaign rally in Fort Worth next week, in his first return to Tarrant County since announcing that he’s running for president.

O’Rourke, one of more than a dozen in the crowded race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, will hold a 5:30 p.m. rally May 3 at the Flying Saucer, 111 E. 3rd St.

“We want to spend a lot of time in Texas, and we said the next stop was in Tarrant County,” said Chris Evans, a Beto campaign spokesman. “It was such an important county for us in the Senate race, swinging to Beto.

“Tarrant County is the battleground of Texas.”

Tarrant County has long been considered a Republican stronghold.

But that changed in November 2018, when O’Rourke beat Ted Cruz in Tarrant by 3,869 votes in the election for U.S. Senate. The state, on the other hand, delivered a narrow victory to Cruz, who received about 200,000 more votes than O’Rourke to claim a second term in the U.S. Senate.

Now, a number of Democratic presidential hopefuls are heading to Tarrant County, as many believe it’s a bellwether that serves as a guide to any political shift that might happen in Texas. The percentage of Tarrant voters backing Republicans in presidential elections matched the statewide results in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

“It was really a big victory for Democrats to see Tarrant County go Democratic (in 2018) for the first time in a long time,” Evans said. “It showed what kind of change you can make when you really hit the ground.”

O’Rourke will be the fourth Democratic presidential candidate to campaign in Tarrant County this year.

Kamala Harris visited Tarrant County in March, John Hickenlooper spoke April 9 during Downtown Fort Worth Inc.’s annual meeting and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders held a rally in Fort Worth on Thursday.

“Not only is Tarrant County in play, but Texas is in play, and all the electoral votes here are in play,” Evans said.

Texas has long been considered a crown jewel for Super Tuesday, when voters in 10 states head to the primary polls on March 3, 2020.

The day after the Fort Worth rally, O’Rourke will give the commencement address at Paul Quinn College in Dallas.

Since launching his presidential campaign, O’Rourke has visited 12 states and 86 cities, holding 111 public events.

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.