Texas Dem enters Cruz fight, says state needs check on Trump

Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas) on Friday became the first Democrat in the 2018 race against Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSanders meets with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred Cruz knocks Chick-fil-A over past donation: It has 'lost its way' Overnight Energy: Relocated BLM staff face salary cuts | UN report calls for drastic action on climate change | California asks EPA to reconsider emissions rule MORE (R-Texas), arguing his state needs a check on the Trump administration.

O’Rourke ripped Cruz’s role in the 2013 government shutdown and said the conservative star was too focused on his bid for the White House last year.

Texas needs a senator who won’t use the position “to run for president, to shut down the government,” O’Rourke said in a speech from his hometown of El Paso, where he was surrounded by supporters.

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In arguing that Texas needs a Democrat to be a “check and balance” on the Trump administration, he criticized President Trump’s plan for a U.S.-Mexico border wall and travel ban affecting several majority-Muslim nations.

“We need to meet this fear, this anxiety, this paranoia that's coming out of the White House ... with a strength and a confidence that can only come from Texas,” O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke, 44, who has represented his district since 2013, could have company in a Democratic primary.

Fellow Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro (D), a rising star in the party, is still considering a bid. His political director said he will make a decision “in the coming weeks.”

Either Democrat faces an uphill battle in defeating Cruz in a state that has not elected a Democratic senator since 1988.   

And while Cruz has irked some within his party, he's been able to expand his national profile and donor base after unsuccessfully running for the GOP presidential nomination.

O’Rourke quickly garnered an endorsement from a national progressive group. The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) sent out a fundraising email to its 1 million members nationwide and nearly 50,000 in Texas in support of O’Rourke.

Cruz also fundraised off the announcement, saying that O’Rourke will have the support “of the mainstream media and a Washington establishment willing to do everything in their power to see Ted Cruz defeated.”

Texas Democrats running for Senate won’t be able to count on financial help from national Democrats.

The party has a tough Senate map in 2018, with 10 incumbents up for reelection in states that chose Trump for president last year.