In addition to several marijuana initiatives (in Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota and Utah) on the Nov. 6 ballot, a number of races in the Senate and House could result in pro-pot candidates knocking off drug warriors. Here are 10 races to watch.
1. Beto O’Rourke (D) vs. Sen. Ted Cruz (R)
Beto O’Rourke is challenging incumbent right-winger Cruz. O’Rourke, who’s backed the legalization cause ever since he was on El Paso’s City Council, has repeatedly called for the end of “the U.S. government’s War on Drugs” and “the federal prohibition of marijuana.” An O’Rourke victory would help swing the Senate back to Democratic control. The congressman has the support of Willie Nelson, who he performed with on stage at the singer’s Fourth of July Picnic in Austin. It’s an expensive race with a total of $37 million ($23.7 million for O’Rourke) in the campaigns’ coffers. An Aug. 27 Emerson College poll called the race a “dead heat,” though most prognosticators say it’s “likely Republican.” In recent weeks, Cruz’s campaign has been pulling out all the stops, releasing O’Rourke’s mug shot from a 1998 DWI and longhaired photos from when he played bass in a punk-rock band.
2. Rep. Jared Polis (D) vs. Walker Stapleton (R)
In the Colorado gubernatorial race, four-term congressman Polis is hoping to succeed Gov. John Hickenlooper (D). Polis, who’s a longtime marijuana supporter and is also gay, won the June 26 Democratic primary with 45% of the vote against three opponents. “I’m proud to be the only candidate in this race that publicly supported the ballot measure to legalize marijuana (Amendment 64), and I have fought hard to declassify marijuana as a Schedule I drug in Congress,” he states at his campaign’s website. As governor, he’d be much more favorable to cannabis than the reluctant Hickenlooper. With nine times the campaign funding ($18.6 million) than …