Texans stick together. Willie Nelson, from Abbott, teamed up with Rep. Beto O'Rourke, from El Paso, for a rally at Auditorium Shores in Austin on Sept. 29 to stir up support for the Congressman's campaign to win the Senate seat from incumbent Ted Cruz on Nov. 6. Joe Ely, Carrie Rodriguez, Leon Bridges, Tameca Jones and Nelson's sons Lukas and Micah were also on the bill. More than 60,000 people attended the free event.
O'Rourke joined Nelson on "On the Road Again" and the country singer debuted a new song, "Vote 'Em Out."
A Sept. 18 Quinnipiac poll had Cruz ahead by nine points, but a day later, the Reuters/Ipsos/UVA Center for Politics poll showed O'Rourke leading by two points. Two more polls on Sept. 20 indicated a toss-up.
O'Rourke supports legalizing marijuana and ending the War on Drugs, as does Nelson. They performed together at Nelson's recent 4th of July Picnic in Austin. A bassist, O'Rourke used to play wih the punk-rock band Foss. With Nelson, he donned an acoustic guitar for a version of "It's All Going to Pot."
“My wife Annie and I have met and spoken with Beto and we share his concern for the direction things are headed,” Nelson stated. “Beto embodies what is special about Texas, an energy and an integrity that is completely genuine.”
Though it's been reported that this was Nelson's "first-ever free, public performance on behalf of a political candidate," that's not quite true. Nelson has played for numerous candidates over the years, including Dennis Kucinich and pro-hemp Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Gatewood Galbraith.
Some of Nelson's more conservative fans are not thrilled about the singer's endorsement of the left-leaning O'Rourke. "If that's true I'm done after 45 years with the Red Headed Stranger," Ralph Brown commented on Nelson's Facebook page. "Willie, that smoke has finally got you!!"
"Goodbye Willie, I don't support socialist commies!" David R. Williams chimned in. "Like we say in Texas, now git!"
On the other hand, Sue Whitford wrote: "Oh my goodness, Willie!! Don't you realize you are riling up a whole lot of nutjobs who can't walk and chew gum at the same time? They don't like you messing with 'politics.' I doubt you'll even notice their absence, but they'll feel a lot more righteous by dissing you and damning you. Can you feel their hate?? (I bet they hated Farm Aid too, huh?) Hooray!! Kudos!! Thumbs UP for appearing for Beto. Keep up the good music."
Nelson repsonded to his critics on The View. "I've been supporting Democrats all my life," he told Joy Behar on Sept. 18. "Everybody has an opinion. Everybody has a right to an opinion. I think I have one too. They're entitled to their opinion and I'm entitled to mine."