Houston Chronicle endorses Beto O'Rourke in Texas Senate race

The Houston Chronicle on Friday endorsed Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeOvernight Energy: Warren wants Dems to hold climate-focused debate | Klobuchar joins candidates rejecting fossil fuel money | 2020 contender Bennet offers climate plan O'Rourke says he would 'absolutely' do Fox News town hall CNN announces four more town halls featuring 2020 Dems MORE in his bid to unseat incumbent Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz slams Jim Carrey's 'vicious, angry' painting of Alabama governor after abortion ban Eye-popping number of Dems: I can beat Trump 'SleepyCreepy Joe' and 'Crazy Bernie': Trump seeks to define 2020 Dems with insults MORE (R-Texas) in the closely watched Texas Senate race. 

"With eyes clear but certainly not starry, we enthusiastically endorse Beto O'Rourke for U.S. Senate," the Chronicle's editorial board wrote in its endorsement. "The West Texas congressman's command of issues that matter to this state, his unaffected eloquence and his eagerness to reach out to all Texans make him one of the most impressive candidates this editorial board has encountered in many years."

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The board notes that O'Rourke, a congressman in an El Paso-based district, faces "long odds" to become the first Democrat Texas could vote into the Senate in three decades. The board writes that a victory for O'Rourke would be beneficial for the state "not only because of his skills, both personal and political, but also because of the manifest inadequacies of the man he would replace."

The board, which notes that it endorsed Cruz's candidacy in the 2012 Senate race, criticized Cruz in its endorsement of O'Rourke, saying the incumbent has exhibited "little interest in addressing the needs of his fellow Texans during his six years in office."

"For Cruz, public office is a private quest; the needs of his constituents are secondary," the board wrote, also citing his pivotal role in a federal government shutdown in 2013, as well as his "nay" vote for the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act — a law that authorized $60 billion for relief agencies that were aiding Hurricane Sandy victims. 

The board also pointed to the negative public comments Cruz has received from his Republican colleagues.

Former House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerAmash storm hits Capitol Hill Crowley, Daschle named to international cannabis board Clash with Trump marks latest break with GOP leaders for Justin Amash MORE (R-Ohio) once said, "I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life." Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTensions swirl around Iran as administration to brief Congress Press: Justin Amash breaks ranks with party Overnight Defense: Iran tensions swirl as officials prepare to brief Congress | Trump threatens war would be 'end of Iran' | Graham tells Trump to 'stand firm' | Budget talks begin MORE (R-S.C.), the board notes, once said: "If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you."

"What sets O'Rourke apart, aside from the remarkable campaign he's running, are policy positions in keeping with a candidate duly aware of the traditionally conservative Texas voter he would be representing in the U.S. Senate," the board continues.

The board then goes on to conclude that O'Rourke would serve as a check to President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE, whom it describes as a "danger to the republic."

"Cruz is unwilling to take on that responsibility." 

O'Rourke has gained a national following in his quest to unseat Cruz for his Senate seat. Still, polls have shown Cruz maintaining a solid lead. A poll released by CNN this week showed Cruz with a 7-point advantage. The nonpartisan Cook Political report has rated the race a "toss-up."