Thousands of Beto O'Rourke fans packed into a minor league baseball stadium in downtown El Paso on election night, hoping the Democrat would become Texas's newest Senator. Once the results started coming in, the mood turned somber.
Monica Romero watched the results roll in on her cell phone. When several news outlets declared Ted Cruz the winner, she decided to leave the election rally early, along with her husband and three children.
They thought about staying, to support O'Rourke.
But “you know, it's just disappointing and it's sad, and we'd rather just keep our emotions to ourselves and go home and just deal with it,” Romero said.
Dozens of people left the stadium before O'Rourke's concession speech, some with tears streaming down their faces.
Others, like Elizabeth Lozano, stayed through the end.
“I feel like as a Texan, as an American, this speaks volumes,” she said, as she waited for O’Rourke to speak. “I feel like people don’t care about me, about being a minority, about being a woman, about issues that are affecting America.”
Lozano said she remembers how proud Chicagoans were, when Barack Obama won the presidency. She wanted El Pasoans to have that same experience, with O’Rourke.
About an hour after Ted Cruz delivered his victory speech, O’Rourke took the stage. Supporters cheered and waved the black and white Beto signs that became so ubiquitous during his campaign. A few chanted "2020."
In his speech, O’Rourke struck a hopeful tone. “I’m as hopeful as I’ve ever been in my life,” he said.
“Tonight’s loss does nothing to diminish the way I feel about Texas or this country.”
O’Rourke expressed gratitude for his family, for his team, and for El Paso. He didn’t discuss any future plans.
As the crowd filed out of the stadium, a few Beto fans said they actually felt encouraged. O’Rourke lost, but the race was much closer than they expected.