Pot Legalization Advocate Wins Texas Congressional Primary
Former El Paso city councilman Beto O'Rourke has defeated US Rep. Silvestre Reyes in the battle for the Democratic Party nomination for the seat Reyes has held since 1996. According to election results from the Texas Secretary of State's office early Wednesday morning, O'Rourke had picked up 51.3% of the vote to Reyes' 41.3%, meaning O'Rourke also avoids the need for a run-off election.
O'Rourke is a vocal marijuana legalization supporter, while Reyes, a former Border Patrol official, has built a career on tough on the border and tough on drugs politics.
O'Rourke garnered national attention in 2009, when he championed a council resolution calling for a national conversation on legalizing and regulating drugs as a possible solution to the drug cartel violence just over El Paso's border in Mexico. The mayor vetoed the unanimously-passed resolution and the council was set to override the veto until Congressman Reyes threatened that the city would lose federal funding if it insisted on pushing the legalization conversation. The override vote failed, but O'Rourke has managed to use the issue as a launching pad for his campaign against what had been a heavily-favored incumbent.
O'Rourke has spoken eloquently of the violence in Mexico and its roots in drug prohibition, including at Drug Policy Alliance conferences, and is the co-author, along with fellow El Paso city council member Susie Byrd, of Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the US and Mexico, which calls explicitly for marijuana legalization.
Having won the Democratic primary almost certainly assures O'Rourke of victory in November. The district is solid Democratic, having sent Reyes to Washington in the last eight elections. But now, El Paso will be sending a drug reformer, not a drug warrior, to Congress.
(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)
El Paso, TX