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Beto O’Rourke visits UH, urges voters to polls

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke visited UH on Friday in his last address to voters at the University before Election Day.| Anh Le/The Cougar

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke visited UH on Friday in his last address to voters at the University before Election Day. 

O’Rourke spoke to a crowd of students on issues ranging from immigration to abortion. He emphasized Gov. Greg Abbott’s alleged failure to properly maintain the Texas power grid, as well as his continued support for access to firearms in the wake of the Uvalde Shooting

“The guy in the highest position in Texas, which is the energy capital of the world, can’t keep the lights on, or the power running or the heat on,” O’Rourke said. “While you were freezing in your homes, he allowed his buddies to make millions in profit at your expense.”

According to The Texas Tribune, Abbott’s campaign, alongside Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s, are among the top recipients of donations from energy-related businesses and political action committees. 

O’Rourke also criticized Abbott for the recent passage of Texas’ “Constitutional Carry” bill, which allows anyone 21 and older to carry a gun in public without a license. Though the law makes an exception for individuals who have committed certain misdemeanors, the new regulations are some of the most lenient in the nation. 

“Not only do we lead the nation in school shootings, but shootings are the leading cause of death for children and teenagers,” O’Rourke said. “It’s the stories we read about, and it’s the stories that are so numbingly common. Those names no longer make the newspapers, and those faces are no longer on the news.” 

O’Rourke added that Abbott’s administration signed constitutional carry into law despite objections from law enforcement who claim the law will put more lives in danger. 

Campaign issues aside, O’Rourke’s primary message to UH students was simple: get out and vote. Several student leaders, such as Student Government Association President Joshua Martin, echoed this point. 

“My message to students at UH is to go vote,” Martin said. “The voice of college students will decide the outcome of our state and country as a whole.”

Political science sophomore and co-president of Students for Beto UH Benjamin Rizk said that he believes recent events will motivate more students to turn out to the polls come Election Day.

“Many people have seen what has happened with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the shutdown of our electrical grid and many other catastrophes,” Rizk said. “People are fed up and want change, and many people are turning out to the polls.”

Before leaving, O’Rourke shared some final words of motivation and appreciation for the students assembled. 

“At every major turn of Texas history, it has been young people who have brought us through, and I think this era, this generation, this moment is no different,” O’Rourke said. “I’m confident that the margin of victory can be here right now, on this campus today.”

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