The Texas Republican Party invoked a decades-old mug shot from Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeO'Rourke says he raised record .2M since launching campaign for Texas governor Eleven interesting races to watch in 2022 Cruz bullish on his 2024 chances: 'The runner-up is almost always the next nominee' MORE's (D-Texas) prior arrest as part of a series of jabs at the congressman for declining to debate Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate panel advances bill blocking tech giants from favoring own products Lawmakers press Biden admin to send more military aid to Ukraine On The Money — Ban on stock trading for Congress gains steam MORE (R-Texas).
“There’s always the chance that Robert ‘Beto’ O’Rourke won’t debate Senator Cruz because he got into a hazy situation…” the Texas GOP tweeted from its official account late Tuesday.
The tweet included O’Rourke’s mugshot from an arrest. The photo included a message that reads: “Sorry, Can’t debate. Had a little too much to drink.”
There's always the chance that Robert “Beto” O’Rourke won’t debate Senator Cruz because he got into a hazy situation... pic.twitter.com/4nmd42AEkl— Texas GOP (@TexasGOP) August 28, 2018
The mugshot appeared to reference a DWI arrest O'Rourke experienced more than 20 years ago. It was one of several photos posted on the Texas GOP account mocking O’Rourke over his decision not to debate Cruz on Friday in Dallas. O'Rourke is challenging Cruz for his Senate seat in November.
O’Rourke told supporters that the debate, which Cruz proposed last month, “is not going to happen,” The Texas Tribune reported. He expressed confidence there would be "a number of debates" before November's election.
The Texas GOP first tweeted a photo of O’Rourke holding a skateboard, with a note superimposed reading “Sorry, I’m going to have to skate on the debate Friday.”
Another photo appeared to show O’Rourke during his time in the band Foss in the early 1990s. The GOP account scrawled the message “Sorry, can’t debate. We have a gig,” on the image.
So Beto has been ducking debates with Senator Ted Cruz. We can't imagine why, but we do have a few ideas... pic.twitter.com/3n2HtwY9pQ— Texas GOP (@TexasGOP) August 28, 2018
Maybe Beto can’t debate Ted Cruz because he already had plans... pic.twitter.com/LdqKTh3yK4— Texas GOP (@TexasGOP) August 28, 2018
O'Rourke's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the tweets.
The tweets from the Texas Republican Party come as polls show a tightening race between O'Rourke and Cruz, with the two statistically dead even in an Emerson College poll out this week.
O’Rourke has acknowledged his prior arrests on multiple occasions over the years as he ran for office. In an op-ed for The Houston Chronicle earlier this week calling for Texas to implement criminal justice reforms, O’Rourke addressed his two past run-ins with the law.
He wrote that he spent a night in El Paso County Jail in 1995 for jumping a fence at the University of Texas at El Paso, and was released on bail the next day.
“Three years later, I was arrested for drunk driving - a far more serious mistake for which there is no excuse,” O’Rourke wrote.
O'Rourke has maintained he was not convicted in either case. The DWI charge was dismissed after he completed a diversion program the following year.
“Both incidents were due to poor judgement and I have no excuse for my behavior then," O'Rourke told The Palestine Herald-Press in August 2017, shortly after he announced his plans to challenge Cruz.
"However, since then, I have used my opportunities to serve my community and my state," he continued. "I'm grateful for the second chance and believe that we all deserve second chances.”
The Texas GOP predicted in a tweet later Wednesday thatO'Rourke would win "100% if the vote from Buzzfeed contributors, out of state liberals and people who use the word 'rad.'"
"We feel very owned :'(," it added.
Based on the reaction to our tweets we can confirm that Beto is in fact going to receive 100% of the vote from Buzzfeed contributors, out of state liberals, and people who use the word "rad." We feel very owned :'(— Texas GOP (@TexasGOP) August 29, 2018
--This report was updated at 1:37 p.m.