Willie Nelson will headline a free concert in support of Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke in Austin, Texas on Sept. 29. The rally at Auditorium Shores marks the first time the American icon will hold a concert for a public office candidate.
Nelson also threw support behind O’Rourke in July when he brought him on stage during his Fourth of July Picnic. A former member of a punk band, O’Rourke played acoustic guitar on the songs “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” and “I’ll Fly Away.”
O’Rourke is an El Paso Democrat who holds a position as a Representative for Texas’ 16th district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He’s challenging Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) for his Senate seat this November.
The concert also features a handful of other notable Texas musicians, including Joe Ely, Carrie Rodriguez, Tameca Jones and Nelson’s sons Lukas and Micah Nelson. A rumor about Leon Bridges appearing is unconfirmed.
Nelson offered more explanation for his historic decision in a press release. “My wife Annie and I have met and spoken with Beto and we share his concern for the direction things are headed,” Nelson says. “Beto embodies what is special about Texas, an energy and an integrity that is completely genuine.”
O’Rourke became somewhat of a celebrity when his response to a voter’s question about kneeling during the national anthem went viral. But Ted Cruz remains one of the most visible politicians from Texas.
Cruz rose to political prominence during the Tea Party movement. His bid for the Republican presidential nomination failed in 2016, though he secured a substantial portion of the vote.
Willie Nelson’s Beto O’Rourke concert marks another milestone in the political candidate’s quest to unseat Cruz. Cruz is largely still seen as the favorite to win in the highly partisan state. But O’Rourke’s growing popularity is putting Republican stalwarts on edge.
Cruz enjoyed a nearly double digit lead over O’Rourke in polls as recently as June. His lead since shrunk to about 3 percent, causing Real Clear Politics to classify the race as a “toss up.”
O’Rourke’s campaign is seizing that momentum with large donation drives. President Trump recently announced he plans to stump for Cruz in an effort to rally his base in favor of Cruz.
Texans interested in attending the Beto O’Rourke rally must register here.