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Shocking turnout for first day of early voting in Houston

Houston Chronicle logo Houston Chronicle 10/22/2018 Jeremy Wallace, Houston Chronicle
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Video by CBS News

Thousands of people were already camped out at a key early voting location in Houston on Monday morning, hours before voting was even set to begin.

Nearly 2,000 people stood in line outside of the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center on West Gray near River Oaks in a scene that looked more like a Black Friday shopping morning.

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"This is one of the most important elections of our lifetimes," said Cody Pogue, who arrived at 8:30 p.m. on Sunday to make sure he'd be one of the first people to cast a ballot for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke.

Just moments later, O'Rourke was across the street firing up his supporters with a bullhorn.

"Are y'all ready?" O'Rourke said to a cascade of cheers. "Houston, I love you."

Slideshow by photo service

Karen Bard, who was in line more than an hour before the polls opened, said she doesn't normally vote in midterms, but O'Rourke changed that.

"It's not about me, it's about my kids," Bard said.

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O'Rourke has a half-dozen rallies planned all over the Houston area on Monday to start early voting.

Those rallies come as U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz brings in President Donald Trump for a rally to back his campaign at the 18,000-seat Toyota Center. Trump took to Twitter just as polls were opening in Texas.

"Big Night In Texas!!!!" Trump tweeted.

On Sunday, Cruz brought in Gov. Greg Abbott for a rally in Houston to boost GOP turnout. Both warned that O'Rourke represents a national Democratic Party trying to turn Texas into a liberal state.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: U.S. Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke greets supporters and early voters outside the Metropolitan Multi-Services Center on West Gray Street Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, in Houston. © Godofredo A. Vasquez, Staff Photographer U.S. Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke greets supporters and early voters outside the Metropolitan Multi-Services Center on West Gray Street Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, in Houston. "Now there are a whole bunch of national Democrats that want to turn Texas into California," Cruz said calling on his supporters to turn out in big numbers to push back against them.

Abbott said despite national Democrats wanting to turn Texas blue, he is convinced Cruz will prevail.

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"Ted Cruz is going to win because Beto is hostile to Texas values," he said.

O'Rourke meanwhile objected to the partisan undertones in Abbott's and Cruz's message. In an interview with the Houston Chronicle on Sunday night in Sugar Land, he said this election isn't about Texas being red or blue.

"Who cares about the partisan color of Texas?" O'Rourke said. "I could give a damn about what party you are in."

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