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Beto O'Rourke thanks Democrats in Tarrant County after winning Texas gubernatorial primary

Beto O'Rourke speaks to supporters holding up Beto signs at a watch party at Flying Saucer Draught Emporium in Fort Worth.
Kailey Broussard
Beto O'Rourke speaks at a watch party at Flying Saucer Draught Emporium in downtown Fort Worth March 1, 2022. O'Rourke won the Democratic primary to face off against Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott in November.

After easily winning the Democratic nomination for governor, Beto O'Rourke urged a crowd of supporters Tuesday evening to keep showing up.

Beto O'Rourke, who won the Democratic primary for Texas governor, spent Tuesday evening in Fort Worth — part of a county that he says will play a key role in the November general election against Republican incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott.

O'Rourke won Tarrant County in his 2018 U.S. Senate campaign against Republican Ted Cruz, but lost the statewide election.

"Tarrant County will in this election likewise be a major source of strength for down-ballot races and making sure that we have enough votes to win the big one," O'Rourke said.

O'Rourke attributed the 2018 win to grassroots volunteer efforts to get out the vote. His primary campaign this year, he says, consisted of about 53,500 people who made more than 4.5 million phone calls in February.

"If we're going to build upon our gains that we all realized together in 2018, it's going to take all of us doing all that we can with what we have, where we are right now," O'Rourke said.

He and Abbott comfortably secured their parties' nominations Tuesday evening. Both candidates have spent the majority of their primaries attacking one another rather than their primary opponents.

While in Fort Worth, O'Rourke criticized Abbott's handling of the state's electrical grid during the deadly 2021 winter storm, his push against gender-affirming care for transgender children and his support of restrictive new voting laws.

O'Rourke also promised supporters he would build consensus in a largely Republican state legislature.

"We need a governor who's going to bring us together, focus on the big things — great jobs, great schools, expanded Medicaid — common sense, bipartisan things that most Texans can agree on," he said.

Supporters took his message to heart. Alina Rosales of Fort Worth said she wants to see O'Rourke make good on his promises. She has followed him since his 2018 Senate run and keeps tabs on his website.

"I definitely want to see his promises on trying to sway the Republicans in the legislature, especially the Senate, to go along with his plans to repeal the laws that Abbott has added to the legislature," Rosales said.

Both Rosales and Gail Haterius, a retired school administrator, said they want to see stronger protections against gun violence. Haterius, who lives in Keller, said she's concerned about safety in schools.

"I guess I want normal, and he's the closest thing to normal I've seen in awhile in Texas, so I appreciate that," Haterius said.

Got a tip? Email Kailey Broussard at You can follow Kailey on Twitter @KaileyBroussard.

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Kailey Broussard is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). Broussard covers the city of Arlington, with a focus on local and county government accountability.