Story by Raegan Turner | Staff Writer, Video by Kennedy Dendy and Jenna Welch | Broadcast Reporters
Tuesday night, Wacoans and Baylor students alike gathered across the city to track the live updates of the U.S. Senate election. Incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz won the election with 51.2 percent to Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s 48.1 percent, as of 11 p.m. Tuesday with 84 percent of precincts reporting.
One of the several watch parties in Waco was organized by Portland, Ore., senior Eric Soo, the president of the Baylor College Republicans. The event was hosted with the McLennan County Republican Party, backing Cruz, but included guests that are not members of the Republican Party. The Democratic club on campus, Baylor Democrats, was invited to the event to create a positive space within the diverse community to have fun while viewing the election, according to Soo.
Soo expressed his desire to establish a relationship between him and the Democrats on campus, who he said are “not his enemies.” He said that despite their differences, it is possible to have community.
“It’s important to not be afraid to share who you are authentically but also not being afraid to listen and remember that we are part of a community. And that doesn’t mean walling yourselves off relationship-wise. We live alongside the Democrats, so of course we are going to invite them to events like this,” Soo said.
The watch party, located at the Republican Party of McLennan County headquarters, was loud with friendly conversation and television updates. Plenty of food and drink were available and space was limited.
Soo dismissed the idea that dissension is present between the two parties on Baylor’s campus, which contrasts the rest of the nation.
“I think the fact that I listen to them, I respect them and they do the same for me is great. I actually talked to [Vice President for Student Life Kevin Jackson] today in my leadership class about how we do have a really sad political climate. I see a lot of this fighting going on in D.C. but on campus, the Democrats and I get along really well,” Soo said.
In contrast on the national scale, NPR reports that “The partisan split in America is the highest it has been in two decades, with Republicans and Democrats holding vastly disparate views on race, immigration and the role of government.”
Across town, many of those Waco-based Democrats congregated at tables facing a blaring television. Some Baylor students who participated as volunteers in O’Rourke’s campaign were also there eagerly watching the results of elections in other states and discussing their hope of a Democratic win.
Flower Mound senior Peter Mungiguerra is one of these students. He was emphatic about his candidate, O’Rourke, and how the community of Waco rallied behind the representative from El Paso.
“It didn’t take just a couple of people; it took an entire community. I was talking to the Democratic party chair from McLennan County a little earlier and she said that half these people in this room wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for Beto and for people caring and getting fired up and wanting to make some change happen,” Mungiguerra said.