Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the country, a change which Democrats hope will help U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke succeed over incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz in the 2018 Senate race.
2018 Texas Senate Race Is Surprisingly Tight
LESTER HOLT, reporting:
The midterms now less than a month away, all eyes are here on Texas. And the surprisingly close race for U.S. Senate. It's been 30 years since Texans elected a Democrat to the Senate. But one progressive congressman is challenging history and leaving some to wonder if Texas is still a reliably red state.
BETO O’ROURKE: Good to see all of you.
HOLT: Tonight the question for Beto O’Rourke, can he turn big crowds into a victory against Republican Ted Cruz?
O’ROURKE: Are you with me?
HOLT: Polls showing him in striking distance.
O’ROURKE: Thank you so much. Very grateful.
HOLT: We caught up with him this morning at Lone Star College. Is some of it simply tied to you and your personality in this moment in time or are we seeing a fundamental shift in the landscape of politics in Texas?
O’ROURKE: There is something happening. It's something incredibly exciting with a tremendous amount of energy.
HOLT: Cruz, not taking O’Rourke’s challenge lightly.
SENATOR TED CRUZ: I think it’s the sign of the times nationally that-- that the extreme left, they are really angry and they are energized. And we are seeing that in Texas.
HOLT: But there may also be something else at work, the changing face of today's Texas, which Democrats hope will help O’Rourke. Take Houston, now one of the most diverse cities in the country. One point six million Houstonians foreign born like Ben Tran who came here from Vietnam.
BEN TRAN: Beto has a vision of Texas that more accurately matches what the future of Texas is going to look like.
HOLT: Historically this is not only a red state, a bright red state. Is that changing?
O’ROURKE: You know, I don't know is my-- is my honest answer. I meet a lot of Republicans who are coming out to our events, meet a lot of Democrats. But I meet a lot of young people, especially who just don't affiliate by party, for them that's a vestige of another time. It doesn't work for them.
SENATOR CRUZ: The stakes right now, they ain't never been higher than they are right now.
HOLT: Cruz got 40% of the Hispanic vote last time including Bernadette McLeroy.
BERNADETTE MCLEROY: Ted Cruz represents the values that matches with out-- with the constitution and he stands for veterans' values, family values.
SENATOR CRUZ: Here in Texas we got a fight on our hands.
HOLT: Cruz himself the son of Cuban immigrants, confident. The demographic changes have been pretty dramatic in Texas. Those have to in some way affect the political landscape, don’t they?
SENATOR CRUZ: Sure. But if you look at the demographic changes, you have lots of people coming to Texas for jobs. That in turn makes people value the policies that produce those jobs. We don't want to screw it up. And high taxes, high regulations, hammering small businesses is really bad for Texas.
HOLT: Senator Cruz, who polls say has a slight lead here, also telling us he thinks the battle over Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation is energizing conservatives.