Beto O’Rourke visits San Antonio on his Keeping the Lights On campaign


Bella Nieto, Managing Editor

Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, criticized Governor Greg Abbott for his handling of Winter Storm Uri on the candidate’s statewide ‘Keeping the Lights On: A Statewide Drive for a Brighter Texas’ initiative. The campaign event centered on attacking Abbott’s handling of last year’s power outages, outlining his plans to fix the grid and lower utility costs for taxpayers. 

During his remarks, O’Rourke took a more aggressive stance toward the governor and blamed him for the failure of the state’s electrical grid. “We are all paying the price for this guy’s corruption and his incompetence,” O’Rourke said. His statements are a stark contrast to his hesitancy to run negative ads against Ted Cruz in the 2018 election. 

O’Rourke voiced his dissatisfaction with the power grid and pledged to abolish the Electrical Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and connect the state’s grid to the rest of the country. He referenced Winter Storm Uri, the governor’s failure at winterizing the grid and the 16 people who died in San Antonio after the electrical grid failed during the storm. 

“First, we are going to winterize and weatherize the gas supply,” O’Rourke said. “Who cares what the gas company CEOs have to say about it? We’re gonna do it, and it’s gonna save the lives of our fellow Texans.”

“A 75-year-old veteran in Crosby, Texas, who served this country with distinction in Vietnam, freezing to death in his truck as he tried to change his oxygen tank,” O’Rourke said. “An 11-year-old boy in Conroe, Texas dying under six blankets.”

According to O’Rourke, Energy Transfer Partners, energy traders engaged in natural gas and propane pipeline transportation, made $11 billion during the storm. 

“These folks who robbed us when we were at our most desperate and vulnerable. That $11 billion, I’m going to make sure that we get that money back,” O’Rourke said. “And we’re going to prosecute anybody who was responsible for the destruction and death that we saw here in Texas.”

O’Rourke also localized the consequences of Winter Storm Uri by pointing to the recent rate increase by CPS, the utility company for all of San Antonio.

“Your own utility right here in San Antonio. CPS has already had to jack the rates on every single utility in this city. You are literally paying the Abbott tax,” O’Rourke said.  

At the same time O’Rourke was speaking, Governor Abbott met with Texas business leaders. Abbott criticized O’Rourke and warned what would happen to the oil and gas industry should a Democrat be elected. 

A poll done by UT-Tyler and the Dallas Morning News reported that O’Rourke — who is competing against Rich Wakeland, Joy Diaz, Michael Cooper and Inocencio Barrientez — and Abbott — who is facing against Paul Belew, Daniel Harrison, Kandy Kaye Horn, Donald Huffines, Rick Perry, Chad Prather and Allen B. West — were leading candidates in their parties’ primaries. According to data from Real Clear Politics, O’Rourke is currently averaging 39% in polls compared to his opponent’s 47.2%.