LAKEVILLE, Minn. -Seniors in high school to senior citizens elbowed their way into Angry Inch Brewing to ensure that they could see presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke when he entered the building for a meet-and-greet Wednesday, May 8. Those who arrived after the building was at capacity stood in the doorway and in a line outside, huddled under umbrellas and an awning to avoid the continuous rain.
O'Rourke, a former congressman from Texas, drew national attention during his 2018 campaign for a U.S. Senate seat. He lost to incumbent Ted Cruz by 2.6 percentage points but declared his campaign for the 2020 presidential race in March.
The number of reasons people attended the event were almost as numerous as the people gathered inside and out.
Before O'Rourke arrived Rachelle Wallin and Lydia (last name not given), two of the many millennials in the crowd, said that they liked the candidate in part because of his gun policy. During his speech before a question and answer session O'Rourke addressed that.
"We are either inherently violent, or evil, or immoral, or this is a human-caused problem with a human solution. I chose to believe the latter. That if we pass universal background checks which have been shown to save lives, if we stop selling weapons of war into our communities where they end up in our schools and our churches, in our synagogues, if we have redflag laws so that those who are a danger to themselves or to those in their lives or in your lives are stopped before it's too late. And we can meet this challenge. And we can do it together."
O'Rourke also covered immigration, health care, women's rights, veteran's rights, climate change, income inequality and other topics in his campaign vision.
Unlike Wallin and Lydia, who already have favorite candidates, Karen Sandberg, who was first introduced to O'Rourke through a Facebook video, does not know who she will vote for in 2020. She decided to attend the event to hear more of what O'Rourke had to say.
Like Sandberg, many people there apparently have yet to determine who they will support in the primary election. While O'Rourke was popular amongst those gathered, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and the Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar were also floated as possible Democratic candidates.
Kim Munson, a mother of two grade-school-aged daughters who attended the event with her felt torn between Klobuchar and O'Rourke.
"I love Amy, I feel like I'm cheating on her being here today, to be honest, because I really have been rooting for Amy, but I really like Beto, too, so those are kind of the two forerunners in my mind," Munson said.
Beto has not been polling as well as other Democrats in the race.
An April Monmouth University poll asked voters who identify as Democrats or lean Democratic who they would support as the Democratic nominee. Twenty seven percent said Biden and 20% said Sanders. Four percent of the survey's respondents said that they would support O'Rourke.
The potential good news for O'Rourke is that a FiveThirtyEight poll found that people who have heard of O'Rourke are likely to like O'Rourke. When Democrats who know of O'Rourke were asked if they had favorable or unfavorable views of the candidates running, 43% said that they had a favorable view of O'Rourke. The only candidate with a high favorable rating was Biden at 79%.