As Sen. Ted Cruz faced calls to resign for flying to Mexico during a storm that left many people in Texas without power, other politicians were raising funds for relief efforts and making welfare calls.
On Wednesday and Thursday, as Cruz made then abandoned his trip to Cancun, Mexico, his former Democratic rival Beto O’Rourke was running a virtual phone bank effort to contact senior citizens in Texas.
BIG THANKS to the volunteers who made over 784,000 phone calls to senior citizens in Texas today.
You helped to connect them with water, food, transportation, and shelter.
And you made sure that they knew we were thinking about them and that they matter to us.
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) February 19, 2021
O’Rourke, who ran against Cruz in the 2018 Congressional midterm elections, said volunteers had contacted more than 784,000 senior citizens as part of the effort, offering advice on how to secure food, transportation, and water.
Early on Thursday he criticized Cruz before the senator abruptly decided to return to Texas, telling MSNBC that Cruz was “vacationing in Cancun right now when people are literally freezing to death in the state that he was elected to represent and serve.”
O’Rourke also thanked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who on Thursday raised more than $1 million for Texas relief efforts in around four hours. The funds will go directly to five organizations that are providing food, shelter, and other resources to people affected by the storm.
Ocasio-Cortez, who represents a district in New York City, launched the fundraiser via Twitter on Thursday afternoon. Within less than two hours had raised $325,000, and she said the $1 million fundraising target had been hit around two hours later.
The lawmaker said Texans should “continue to demand” Cruz’s resignation over his role in the Capitol riot in January and his Cancun trip.
We officially raised $1 million for Texas relief at 9:17pm.
Thank you all so much. 🙏🏽 I’m at a loss for words. Always in awe of movement work.
💯% of this relief is going straight to Texan food assistance, homelessness relief, elder care, and more. https://t.co/DSkTSqfbkZ
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 19, 2021
Cruz faces a growing backlash for his decision to abandon Texas and vacation in Cancun. He said he originally planned to stay in the city until Saturday but rushed back to Texas Thursday after he saw the “firestorm” brewing about his trip.
“When I arrived and saw the initial firestorm, what had started as second thoughts that I had as soon as we left grew even greater,” he said in a statement outside his house.
“It was obviously a mistake and in hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it,” he said. Protestors could be heard in the background calling for him to resign.
ERCOT, which supplies electricity in Texas, said Wednesday it had made “significant progress” in restoring power, but that outages would continue throughout the week.