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Beto Kicks Off Virginia’s Presidential Campaign Season With Richmond Rally

O'Rouke in Short Pump on Tuesday Craig Carper/WCVE News

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke rallied several hundred supporters in Short Pump on Tuesday as part of a statewide junket. He’s the first Democrat to stump in Virginia ahead of primaries next March.

O’Rourke hit many of the touchstones of the 19 and counting Democratic contenders. He called for universal healthcare, voting and immigration reform, a $15 an hour minimum wage and repealing President Trump’s tax cuts.

“We need to make sure we win that we win these elections and some more, so we can return power to people, and make decisions on behalf on one another, and not the NRA or the political action committees, or the corporations,” O’Rourke said.

The former Texas Senate contender emphasized the importance of flipping Virginia’s statehouse in November’s elections, or as he quipped, “the Commonwealth House.”

He urged immigration reform, to “use this opportunity to rewrite our immigration laws in our image” and called Trump’s proposed wall “a solution in search of a problem.”

He also laid into Trump’s inflammatory descriptions of migrants.

“You might expect to hear someone call someone else an ‘infestation’ if they’re in a position of power in some dictatorial regime,” O’Rourke said. “Maybe in the Third Reich. You wouldn’t expect it in 2019 in America.”

Local Democrat Rashida Barnes didn’t know much about O’Rourke heading into the event but was impressed he was the first candidate to reach Richmond.

“That speaks volumes to me,” she said. “We’re often overlooked.”

In a fundraising email, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Jack Wilson said all O’Rourke’s positions were “crazy,” and urged donors to help “make Virginia red again.”


Ben Paviour covers state politics for VPM News with a focus on accountability journalism.