Pro-Legalization Challenger Beats Incumbent In Congressional Primary

Former El Paso city councilman Beto O’Rourke has defeated U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes in the Democratic primary for the seat Reyes had held since 1996

Marijuana legalization supporter Beto O’Rourke has defeated prohibitionist eight-term Congressman Silvestre Reyes in the Democratic primary for Texas’s 16th Congressional district.
O’Rourke vocally supports marijuana legalization, while former Border Patrol official Reyes built his career on the War On Drugs.
O’Rourke got 51.3 percent of the vote to Reyes’ 41.3 percent, according to election results from the Texas Secretary of State’s office early Wednesday morning, reports Phillip Smith at
In early 2009, when he was an El Paso city councilman, O’Rourke championed a council resolution calling for a national conversation on legalizing and regulating drugs as a possible solution to the drug cartel violence just over El Paso’s border in Mexico. The mayor vetoed the unanimously-passed resolution and the council was set to override the veto until Congressman Reyes butted in to the debate and threatened that the city would lose federal funding if it insisted on pushing the legalization conversation.

The override vote failed, but the national conversation on legalization has only gotten louder and louder.
Now, O’Rourke is all but certain to be the next congressman from the heavily-Democratic district. His voice will fill the anti-prohibition void left by retiring Reps. Barney Frank, Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich.

Tom Angell
Tom Angell, LEAP: “It’s increasingly clear that the era of drug policy reform being a political third rail is over”

The O’Rourke victory comes just two weeks after Ellen Rosenblum defeated former U.S. attorney Dwight Holton in the Democratic primary for Oregon’s attorney general, a campaign that largely centered on Holton’s role in cracking down on state-legal medical marijuana on behalf of the Obama administration.
“It’s increasingly clear that the era of drug policy reform being a political third rail is over,” said Tom Angell, media relations director for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “Supporting clearly failed prohibition policies that cause so much crime, violence and corruption is becoming a political liability.”
It should be noted that LEAP, as a 501(c)(c) nonprofit organization, does not and cannot support or oppose candidates for elected office. “I’m only passing on this breaking news and commenting on the changing political dynamic surrounding drug policy reform issues,” Angell said.
Watch this anti-O’Rourke attack ad that Reyes put out focusing on the drug policy issue to see exactly what DOES NOT work in politics in 2012:
And see Mother Jones for some more background on the O’Rourke-Reyes race.