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Rep. Beto O'Rourke to challenge Ted Cruz for Texas Senate seat

Texas Congressmen go on road trip
Texas Congressmen go on road trip 01:10

Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, 44, will announce his candidacy for the 2018 Texas election for Senate, challenging incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz. 

On Wednesday, The Houston Chronicle published that O’Rourke is slated to make an official announcement on Friday in his West Texas hometown of El Paso.

The former businessman’s decision to run for Senate is an idea that he has reportedly toyed with for some time now. 

In an early March interview with the Chronicle, O’Rourke said, “I really want to do this.”

Texas Congressmen go on road trip 01:10

“I don’t want to run unless we’re going to win, and I’m confident we can,” he added. “I just want to make sure the way we do this, we set ourselves up for victory.” 

If O’Rourke secures the Democratic Party’s nomination, he would likely face an uphill battle in a Republican-dominated state -- since 1994, zero Democrats have been able to attain any statewide office. 

But before O’Rourke can potentially face off against Cruz, who won his Senate race in 2012 against Democrat Paul Sadler by a whopping 16 percentage points, he must first clear a potential primary hurdle.

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, a prominent supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016, also could run for the seat. 

Castro has developed into a political firebrand for Democrats in the House since securing his seat for the 20th District of Texas in 2013. 

The Chronicle has reported that Castro is expected to announce his decision to either enter the Senatorial race in 2018 or stick with his current House seat, which will also be up for re-election. 

Cruz, who was one of the last GOP candidates standing in the race to the White House, said he planned to run for re-election in May 2016. 

In February, a University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll found that just 20 percent of Texans “approve strongly” of Cruz’s record while 18 percent “approve somewhat.” 

In contrast, the poll found that 29 percent of Texans “disapprove strongly” of Cruz’s record as 10 percent “disapprove somewhat.” 

The senatorial race will arrive during a time of demographic changes for the Lone Star State. 

In 2010, the Hispanic population made up nearly 38 percent of the total population, and there were 4.2 million Hispanic eligible voters, according to U.S. Census Bureau Data. 

That number has steadily increased in the past six years. 

In 2016, the number of Hispanic eligible voters rose by approximately 600,000, and their percentage of population rose by a whole point.

O’Rourke has struggled to emerge as a central political figurehead within the House and garner national attention, but he recently stepped into the spotlight during a bipartisan road trip with Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas earlier in March. 

When congressional sessions were looming on the horizon and all air travel to Washington was canceled because of Winter storm Stella, the representatives rented a car and managed to Facebook live much of their 1,600-mile journey back to Capitol Hill. 

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