In explaining its endorsement, the paper’s editorial board said O’Rourke had run “a campaign that’s based on unifying communities,” arguing that “the pivotal issue before our country is public leadership, and here we believe O’Rourke’s tone aligns with what is required now.”
“In the divisive times in which we live, we believe that tone and leadership are the top issues with which to judge these candidates’ tenures in office. So we’re placing a bet on Beto,” the paper wrote.
The board made it clear that it does not agree with some of his more progressive policy positions but celebrated O’Rourke’s “demeanor that offers respect for each person and a humbleness that will allow him to open the door to working with those who hold political views different from his” ― noting, for example, his bipartisan friendship with Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas).
But the paper also called out what it sees as “blemishes on his campaign,” citing O’Rourke’s support for impeaching President Donald Trump and his adoption of Trump’s name-calling against Cruz as departures from the unifying tone of his campaign.
Last week, O’Rourke also earned the endorsement of the Houston Chronicle. The paper endorsed Cruz in 2012.
“A ‘Beto’ victory would be good for Texas, not only because of his skills, both personal and political, but also because of the manifest inadequacies of the man he would replace,” the Chronicle’s editorial board wrote.
During the 2012 election, The Dallas Morning News endorsed Cruz’s Democratic opponent, Paul Sadler, but also endorsed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
In 2016, it endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, breaking from a long tradition of backing GOP presidential contenders.
The Senate race between O’Rourke and Cruz is one of the most highly watched matchups in this year’s midterm elections, with the result expected to be closer than usual for the traditionally Republican state. O’Rourke’s candidacy has sparked grassroots enthusiasm among Democrats and drawn heavy fundraising.