Beto O’Rourke returns to campaign trail Friday after brief illness

The Democrat also announced Thursday that he has accepted invitations to four townhall-style debates while Gov. Greg Abbott agreed to only one debate.

Beto O’Rourke, Democratic candidate for Texas Governor, speaking to a crowd of more than 800 people in Fredericksburg on Aug. 17. O’Rourke held virtual campaign events this week after pausing in-person rallies due to an illness that required a brief visit to the hospital. (Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio)

By Julián Aguilar, The Texas Newsroom

Democrat Beto O’Rourke is back on the campaign trail after falling ill last week with an unspecified bacterial infection.

O’Rourke will be in Laredo this Friday after his week-long hiatus from in-person events following a brief visit to Methodist Hospital in San Antonio last Friday where he was administered antibiotics and told to rest.

“He’s definitely feeling a lot better. It was a bacterial infection which clears up nicely with antibiotics,” Chris Evans, the communication’s director for O’Rourke’s campaign, told The Texas Newsroom.

O’Rourke, a former Congressman from El Paso, is challenging Republican Gov. Greg Abbott for the office in this year’s November general election.

Also on Thursday, O’Rourke’s campaign said it accepted an invitation to debate Abbott on Sept. 30 in the Rio Grande Valley. O’Rourke added he additionally agreed to four townhall-style debates leading up to the election. So far, the Abbott campaign has only agreed to the one event later this month, which will be hosted by Nexstar Media Group in Edinburg.

In a statement Thursday, the Abbott campaign indicated the Edinburg event is the only debate the incumbent governor will participate in.

“Beto has been debating himself on issues throughout the campaign, and we look forward to highlighting his real positions supporting open borders, defunding the police, raising property taxes, and extreme energy policies that will kill hundreds of thousands of jobs in Texas,” Abbott campaign spokesperson Mark Miner said in a statement.

O’Rourke’s campaign said it didn’t expect Abbott to show up to a forum where the candidates had to take questions from voters.

“They don’t want to go to a townhall style debate — [that] is my reading — because he doesn’t want to take questions from voters,” Evans said. “We think it‘s a good idea for candidates running for governor to take questions from voters.”

O’Rourke is still considered an underdog in the statewide race in Texas, where voters have not ushered in a Democrat for statewide office since the 1990s.

A poll conducted by The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler last month showed O’Rourke trailing Abbott by 7 percentage points.

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