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Beto O'Rourke: 'We are nearing a failed state in Texas' due to Republican leaders

Former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeTexas Republican criticizes Cruz for Cancun trip: 'When a crisis hits my state, I'm there' Progressives target 'Cancun Cruz' in ad to run on 147 Texas radio stations 'Get off TV': Critics blast Abbott over handling of Texas power outages following winter storm MORE blamed Republican leaders in Texas for what he says was a failure to prepare for widespread power outages resulting from a massive winter storm that swept across the state this week. 

"So much of this was avoidable," O'Rourke said during an appearance Tuesday on MSNBC. "Going back to the deregulation of our electric grid here in Texas, which has actually created an incentive to not weatherize or protect against these events." 

The onetime congressman from El Paso said Republicans who run the state are too busy worrying about "stupid" cultural issues like the debate over the national anthem before NBA games or efforts to make Texas a "sanctuary state" for companies and people fleeing states with more liberal policies on issues like guns and immigration.

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"The energy capital of North America cannot provide enough energy to warm and power people's homes," O'Rourke said. "We are nearing a failed state in Texas. And it has nothing to do with God or natural disasters. It has everything to do with those in positions of public trust who have failed us." 

Several people have died and tens of thousands have been left in the dark and cold since Sunday evening after a winter storm moved through a large swath of the state earlier this week. 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has mobilized the National Guard as some residents scramble to get the sick and elderly to warming centers amid record-setting cold temperatures in much of the state. 

State officials have not offered a prediction as of Wednesday morning about when power might be restored to affected areas.  

Several power companies in the state have warned that "additional outages" may still occur. 

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“To go through all of that and then also to have stuff like this happen, it’s like, ‘One more historical event, and I’m going to develop PTSD,’” Brianna Blake, a mother of two sons, told the Texas Tribune. “I cannot do this.”

"The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has been anything but reliable over the past 48 hours,” Abbott said in a statement issued on Tuesday. “Far too many Texans are without power and heat for their homes as our state faces freezing temperatures and severe winter weather. This is unacceptable."

O'Rourke said state officials' response proves Abbott and other Republicans do not have their priorities in order. 
 
"We know this stuff is coming," he said of natural disasters. "What we don't know is whether our leaders are ready to make the tough political decisions to prepare us for that."