Candidates Prepare For Battle
Local Politicians Campaign For Congressional Seat
Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05
The battle to become El Paso’s first new congressional representative in eight terms is nowhere near over for Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke or Republican candidate Barbara Carrasco.
After seeing success in the primary election, both are confident they can build on their momentum and win the general election this November.
“I am extremely confident that I will win in November,” Carrasco said. “I believe I represent the values of the people of El Paso, and I have stated from the beginning that I will be the voice of the people of El Paso and I will represent their values in D.C.”
O’Rourke, who unseated incumbent Silvestre Reyes, also expressed confidence in his ability to win the general election.
“I feel good about the amazing team of volunteers and supporters that we have,” O’Rourke said. “They are the reason that we won in May and they will be critical to our chances in November. I’m grateful that so many UTEP students have become involved in the campaign and look forward to working with them over the next five months.”
The primary election was largely defined by grassroots movements and door-to-door campaigns on the part of both candidates. O’Rourke also managed to gain popularity among El Paso’s youth by utilizing social networks. He created a photo endorsement contest on Facebook for his supporters to participate in, and his youth coordinators were responsible for his involvement at Neon Desert Music Festival, where they set up a booth and met with voters. His youth coordinator, Ana Martinez, believes that this strategy will work well for him in the months leading up to the general election.
“The difference I saw between the O’Rourke campaign and the rest of the campaigns was that we never took anything for granted,” said Martinez, senior political science major. “We allocated all of our resources in the most efficient and effective manner, realizing that at the end of the day, every individual was a potential voter that could help us win the election. I know that if the campaign continues on and feeds off the momentum from the primary election, the O’Rourke campaign will be triumphant.”
The Carrasco campaign also plans to utilize social media more in the months that lead up to the general election. Although they did not have any UTEP students working on the campaign, they are planning to recruit from the group of students who supported Ron Paul in the past.
“Going into the general election will be somewhat different,” Carrasco said. “We will continue our aggressive grassroots efforts as we did in the primary. We will also incorporate other means of communicating and getting our message out there such as media, Internet, mailings, etc.”
O’Rourke and Carrasco’s campaign strategies may be similar, but that is where the similarities end. When El Pasoans go out to vote in November, they will have to choose between classically right and left-wing candidates with opposite views on most of the major issues.
“I have a history of service to this community,” O’Rourke said. “I also have taken positions that are in line with this community’s priorities and experiences. I am pro-immigration reform, pro-DREAM Act, I support building a full-service VA hospital for our veterans and I support full equality for the LGBT community. Barbara Carrasco has taken the opposite position on all of those issues.”
If elected, O’Rourke said he plans to first tackle such issues as long international bridge wait times that he claimed treat people inhumanely and to create more job opportunities and a full-service hospital for El Paso veterans. Carrasco’s platform focuses on expanding El Paso’s private sector to create jobs, and to stop what she describes as “reckless spending” in Washington. She stated that O’Rourke’s values are inconsistent with the values of El Pasoans.
“My opponent has been a divider in our community,” Carrasco said. “My goal is to put the unemployed to work and move our economy forward. We are at a critical juncture in history. I would encourage all students to inform themselves, know the candidates and then cast your vote. I would also encourage all students to stop the straight party vote. Neither party is perfect. We need checks and balances.”
Carrasco said that because college students are no strangers to budgeting, they should understand her goal in implementing a budget for Washington.
“Budgeting also applies to the federal government,” Carrasco said. “My goal in D.C. is to ensure that my children, grandchildren and future generations inherit a land of opportunity as I did. My goal is to make sure you (UTEP students) are able to live an American dream as I did.”
Both candidates have attracted large followings and have gained support from El Pasoans through attending community forums and neighborhood get-togethers. Now, it will be up to the community to decide whether they want their congressional representative to be a more liberal candidate, who promises progression and revitalization, or a more conservative candidate, who promotes budgeting and traditional values for El Paso.
Rebecca Guerrero may be reached at email@example.com.