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Two former staffers for Robert Francis O’Rourke’s failed Senate campaign against Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) are now supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) for president, citing O’Rourke’s insufficiently progressive record.
Autumn Lanning and Bryant Young, who worked as student staffers on O’Rourke’s Senate campaign, became disillusioned with the former congressman, the Texas Tribune reports.
“We were definitely very, very caught up and invested in it,” Lanning said. “It was after the election that we started being like like, ok his voting record actually is horrible.”
Despite working on his campaign, Lanning and Young admitted to not taking the time to look over O’Rourke’s past votes and policy views.
Young began to grow concerned after pro-Palestine media highlighted a September tweet in which O’Rourke praised AIPAC. Both Lanning and Young also came across his past positions on oil: He voted twice to lift the crude oil export ban, which the Tribune notes “was a solid political bet in oil-rich Texas,” but “puts him at odds with national progressive critics who say fossil fuel exports have triggered an explosion in environmentally fraught drilling processes like fracking and exacerbated climate change.”
O’Rourke also voted against a bill that would have cut federal funding for research into possible offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, although he now says he would vote differently on this issue.
“Realizing that he was the No. 2 recipient of fossil fuel money and the No. 1 is Ted Cruz … that’s really just not acceptable,” Lanning said.
“He’s very good at kind of making this word jumble of what he’s speaking about,” Lanning added. He “doesn’t really say anything concrete and that’s kind of suspect for progressives I think.”
Lanning and Young said they lost friends after switching their support to Sanders, with Young saying “it got personal” with people he worked with during the Senate campaign.