The Latest: O'Rourke vows to shun pollsters, PACs

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Posted: Mar 31, 2017 2:21 PM
The Latest: O'Rourke vows to shun pollsters, PACs

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Latest on U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke announcing his 2018 U.S. Senate run (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

Rep. Beto O'Rourke is promising an unconventional campaign as he embarks on his longshot bid to unseat GOP Sen. Ted Cruz.

In an interview with The Associated Press after his kickoff, the Democrat said he won't use pollsters or consultants or take money from PACs.

Instead, O'Rourke plans to travel around Texas talking to voters everywhere.

O'Rourke is the acknowledged underdog in the race, and may get the brushoff from the national party as Democrats focus on defending 10 endangered incumbents in states Donald Trump won.

But O'Rourke said that defending incumbents doesn't get people excited. Taking back the Senate does — and he argued that the path toward doing so runs through Texas.

Republicans control the U.S. Senate 52-48 and Democrats have scant pickup opportunities next year.

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12: 25 p.m.

Ted Cruz is welcoming his first challenger of the 2018 Senate campaign to the race.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke announced a longshot bid against Cruz on Friday in El Paso. Cruz welcomed him but added "I will continue to work every day to earn and keep the trust of Texans across our great state."

Cruz said he's "confident" Texas will want a senator who fights for freedom, defending the Constitution and "getting government off our backs."

Cruz finished second to Donald Trump in last year's GOP presidential primary, and Texas hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994.

Another Democratic U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro is also mulling a Senate campaign. If Castro runs, he would be considered the favorite against O'Rourke in the 2018 Democratic primary.

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11:40 a.m.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke has begun his longshot 2018 Senate run by praising immigrants, saying America draws strength from refugees and suggesting it's time to "end this failed war on drugs."

The 44-year-old, third-term congressman told supporters Friday on a rooftop in his hometown of El Paso that he will support policies embracing people coming to the U.S. as immigrants or refugees.

He promised to halt the "paranoia coming out of the White House."

O'Rourke has been a longtime critic of U.S. drug policy. On Friday he also criticized Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, saying the state needs a "senator working full-time for Texas" rather than "serving his own interests" running for president.

O'Rourke spoke about "comprehensive immigration reform" than repeated the words in fluent Spanish.

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11:10 a.m.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke is giving the first campaign speech of his longshot 2018 campaign to unseat Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

During a rooftop rally Friday in his hometown of El Paso, O'Rourke said: "I'm running to represent the great state of Texas in the U.S. Senate."

He noted that El Paso is a city of immigrants and among the safest in the nation despite bordering Mexico.

Cruz finished second to Donald Trump in last year's GOP presidential primary and remains powerful in Texas. The state hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994.

Another Democratic U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro is also mulling a Senate run and expects to decide soon. He would be favored against O'Rourke in the 2018 Democratic primary.

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9:50 a.m.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke has formally begun his longshot bid to unseat Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

The former punk rocker is planning to make his 2018 Senate run official during an event in his hometown of El Paso later Friday morning.

But his own website beat him to it, unveiling a "Beto for Senate" logo about two hours earlier.

Cruz finished second to Donald Trump in last year's GOP presidential primary and remains powerful in Texas, which hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994.

The 44-year-old O'Rourke once played guitar for a punk band called Foss.

Before challenging Cruz, O'Rourke may have to emerge from a Democratic Senate primary that could feature fellow U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, who has stronger name recognition across Texas.

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12:15 a.m.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke is set to announce a longshot bid to unseat Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

The former punk rocker plans to make his 2018 Senate run official at a rooftop convention space in his hometown of El Paso on Friday.

Cruz finished second to Donald Trump in last year's crowded GOP presidential primary field and remains powerful in Texas — which hasn't elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994.

But O'Rourke, a Spanish-speaking, third-term House member, insists Cruz is beatable.

The 44-year-old O'Rourke once played guitar for an El Paso punk band called Foss.

Before challenging Cruz, though, O'Rourke may have to emerge from a Democratic Senate primary that could feature fellow U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, who might be favored because of stronger name recognition across Texas.