Abbott, O’Rourke rally voters in waning days before midterm election
Incumbent Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and gubernatorial candidate, El Paso-native Beto O’Rourke are stopping in the Sun City, encouraging voters to participate before Election Day. Energizing younger voters may play a big role during the 2022 midterm elections, and the candidates took two distinctly different approaches to their visits.
On Oct. 1, Abbott held his ‘Get Out the Vote’ rally outside the Riviera Cocina and Cantina in El Paso’s Upper Valley. Supporters gathered in the dwindling sunlight of the late afternoon to hear the governor speak. ​​​​​​​
Abbott continued to draw contrast to his challengers’ opposition regarding the economy of Texas, telling supporters it was strong. Another hardpoint issue for the governor was immigration and drug trafficking.
Echoing the efforts of former President Donald Trump, Abbott doubles down, pushing for the completion of the border wall between the United States and Mexico. Going further by touting the reclassification of cartels as terrorist organizations — drawing applause from attendees.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott addresses crowd in El Paso, Texas, Oct. 1, 2022. (Ethan Thomas/Minero Magazine)
One attendee says Abbott's opposition to vaccine mandates, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the subsequent closing of businesses to help curb the spread of the virus as reasons to support the incumbent.
“Everybody is saying that El Paso is like a blue city but there’s still a lot of Republicans and conservatives, and that’s important,” Avila said. “I’m actually conservative. But unfortunately, there’s no conservative democrats anymore.”
Avila also expressed distaste for a perceived shift to the left by the Democratic party, a common notion among conservatives.
Elizabeth Eckles, 17, attending the governor’s rally with her mother, expresses the importance of being informed in elections, especially as a younger voter. 
Other local Republican candidates also flanked Abbott. Notably, Texas State Senate candidate Derek Zubeldia, U.S. House candidate Irene Armendariz-Jackson and Ida Baeza Gardner, another Republican vying for Justice of the Peace.
On the other side of the aisle O’Rourke, soliciting younger voters, held a rally at the University of Texas at El Paso Nov. 3, five days before Election Day with two days left in early voting. 
Preceded by fellow El Paso-based colleague, U.S. Congresswoman Veronic Escobar, D-El Paso, O’Rourke addressed hundreds of students. 
Similarly to his incumbent challenger, O’Rourke made little change to the rhetoric resonating with his base.
Gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke addresses students on the University of Texas at El Paso campus, Nov. 3, 2022.                        (Ethan Thomas/Minero Magazine)
O’Rourke spoke about gun violence in the state, in which he says Texas is leading the nation, and furthering his stance with the citizens and families of Uvalde, Texas which saw a devastating mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in May 2022. 
O'Rourke also spoke in the affirmative about bodily autonomy, a massive democratic talking point after the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade in June.
In anticipation, Texas passed Senate Bill 8 in September of 2021 — a trigger law that went into effect in August 2022 after the Dobbs v. Jackson decision.
The law not only bans abortions after five weeks but allows private citizens to report individuals they believe have received or performed an abortion for a reward of $10,000, spurring uproar from progressives.
Finally, in contrast to Abbott, O’Rourke pushed the importance of young voters, inviting attendees to vote alongside him after his speech.
After the rally, O'Rourke posed for selfies with students, his team cheering and ringing bells when students revealed they were first-time voters.
“It was someone that I supported his ideals,” said Edgar Loya, an 18-year-old sophomore and first-time voter, after attending O’Rourke’s rally. “Honestly, to keep my voting I think it has nothing to do with them, more on my end. Just keeping myself more informed on what’s going on here in Texas.”
Gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke speaks to reporters, Nov. 3rd, 2022.(Ethan Thomas/Minero Magazine)
In recent decades, El Paso County's voter turnout has remained low. The 2020 presidential election yielding a 52% turnout for the Sun City, with the 2022 midterm election in the county failing to reach even 50%.
The last time the county saw a turnout of that magnitude was in 1992, when 64% of eligible voters in El Paso County helped the Democratic Governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton, defeat Republican incumbent George H. W. Bush for the presidency.
Young voters, particularly college-age voters, seem to be the guiding force behind both Governor Abbott and challenger O’Rourke’s rallying cries.
Drawing more engagement from UTEP students is O’Rourke’s Hispanic background. The student body at UTEP being about 84% Hispanic, according to the university’s website.
“With more diversity, you get different opinions,” Loya said. “It’s a lot easier to solve issues that might come across.”
Stephanie Pulido, Jairo Hernandez and Alyssa Orozco, 18-year-old student-attendees, pressed the importance of exercising the right to vote by “making a difference,” as Pulido said. 
“Fully engage yourself,” Orozco said. “ I feel like being involved as much as possible, It’s very important, I just kind of wanted to hear like everybody talk.”

Gubernatorial Candidate Beto O'Rourke poses with daughter after rally on the University of Texas at El Paso Campus, Nov. 3rd, 2022. (Ethan Thomas/Minero Magazine.

Hernandez also spoke on the importance of having a Latino candidate.  
“I feel like they know more about the issues in the Latino community,” Hernandez said. 
El Paso’s turnout for the 2022 midterm election lags in comparison to the 2018 midterms, 53,000 and 89,000 respectively, according to the nonprofit news organization El Paso Matters. But with more engagement in younger voters, the Sun City could see those numbers rise.
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