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Texas’ O’Rourke Decries Failed War on Drugs

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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