|Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke|
January 3, 2013 – January 2019 (pending)
|Preceded by||Silvestre Reyes|
|Succeeded by||Pending general election between Veronica Escobar (D) and Rick Seeberger (R)|
El Paso City Council member
for District 8
June 1, 2005 – June 27, 2011
|Preceded by||Anthony Cobos|
|Succeeded by||Cortney Niland|
|Born|| September 26, `1972|
El Paso, Texas
|Spouse(s)||Amy Hoover Sanders O'Rourke (married 2005)|
|Alma mater|| Woodberry Forest School (Madison County, Virginia)|
Robert Francis O'Rourke, known as Beto O'Rourke and formerly as Rob O'Rourke (born September 26, 1972), has been since 2013 the U.S. Representative for Texas's 16th congressional district, based in his native El Paso. He is the liberal Democratic nominee for the United States Senate in 2018. He faces the incumbent Republican Ted Cruz in the November 6 general election.
O'Rourke was elected to the first of his three terms in Congress in November 2012. Earlier in the year he had unseated the incumbent Representative Silvestre Reyes, a fellow Democrat. Before his congressional years, the businessman O'Rourke represented District 8 on the El Paso City Council.
The Irish-American O'Rourke claims that his nickname "Beto" came from childhood as a shortened name for "Roberto" in Spanish; many of his friends are Hispanic. At Columbia University in New York City, at which he participated on the rowing team, he was known as "Robert" or "Rob". O'Rourke's mother is the former Meissa Martha Williams. His father was El Paso County Judge Pat Francis O'Rourke, a political associate of former Texas Governor Mark White, whose son, Andrew White, lost the May 22 Democratic gubernatorial runoff election to the former sheriff of Dallas County, Lupe Valdez. The senior O'Rourke was killed in July 2001, when he was struck from behind by a vehicle while he was riding his bicycle across the state line into New Mexico.
In the Republican primary held on March 6, 2018, Cruz defeated four weak intra-party opponents with 1,317,450 votes (85.3 percent). In the Democratic primary, O'Rourke received 641,337 votes (61.8 percent) over two intra-party rivals. Some 506,000 more Republicans voted in the Texas primary than did Democrats.
Unlike Cruz, O'Rourke is not himself Hispanic. He is considered a potentially strong opponent to Cruz because of his early start to his campaign, favorable media coverage, strong fund-raising (often surpassing that of Cruz), and a perception that he resembles "a Kennedy," referring to the popular Massachusetts family of politicians. He has the same given names as Robert Francis Kennedy. Already a Senate candidate in 2017, O'Rourke traveled by car to southeastern Texas to participate in Hurricane Harvey relief operations.
O'Rourke has developed a friendly relationship with Moderate Republican Will Hurd of Helotes, an African-American who represents Texas' 23rd congressional district. The two rode together by car in 2017 from Texas to Washington, D.C. O'Rourke supports amnesty for illegal aliens, LGBT, gun control, Obamacare, and abortion. He opposes the War on Drugs and urges the liberalization of narcotics laws.
In an appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher on March 6, 2018, O'Rourke agreed with liberal host Bill Maher, who labeled Ted Cruz "a giant ass-hole." O'Rourke claimed on the broadcast that voters would "never have to wonder who it is I represent or who I’m voting for. It’s going to be the people of Texas, every single time." O'Rourke said that Cruz has allegedly alienated himself from the mass of Texas voters.
The Hispanic pop artist Cruz Ortiz of San Antonio makes T-shirts which promote the O'Rourke candidacy with the message, "Beto por Tejas." His work adorns not only museums but Papa John's Pizza boxes as well. According to Gilbert Garcia of The San Antonio Express-News, Ortiz is "that rare artist who can create cutting-edge work with mass appeal. ... That talent has turned him into a key player in Texas Democratic politics." He is also helping the gubernatorial campaign of Andrew White, who faces the more liberal Lupe Valdez in the May 22 runoff, and the congressional race for Gina Ortiz Jones, who is seeking the party nomination to oppose Will Hurd.
O'Rourke is a forceful advocate for illegal aliens. Conditions on the border can be enhanced, he says, if the United States treated people in border cities with “dignity and respect.” He claims that the border is secure and safe and hence opposes a U.S. military presence to thwart invaders.
O'Rourke carries the support of several liberals in the acting profession, such as Connie Britton, a Democrat who played the caring mother and wife on the former NBC television series, Friday Night Lights. Other celebrities on the O'Rourke team are Sarah Jessica Parker, formerly with the television series Sex and the City, and talk show host Rosie O'Donnell, a long-term critic of President Trump.
Gilbert Garcia, the San Antonio journalist, notes that O'Rourke will immediately become mentioned as a future presidential possibility if he succeeds in upsetting Cruz. "With his Kennedy-esque looks and defiantly idealistic exuberance, he has that rare ability to inspire voters" while establishment politicians make voting a dull civic exercise not much different from "eating your broccoli".
In April 2018, O'Rourke addressed a gathering of five hundred at Texas Tech University in the usually Republican city of Lubbock. In his speech, he denounced what he called Republican "paranoia, the fear, the divisiveness, the smallness that distinguishes that kind of thinking and leadership." Instead, O'Rourke vowed to promote "confidence and a courage and a strength and a kindness and a big heart that can only come from Texas." At that same meeting, O'Rourke said that he had seen enough evidence to warrant the impeachment of President Trump. A few days later at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, O'Rourke denied that he is pre-committed to impeachment: "I never brought this issue up." O'Rourke described impeachment as "perhaps the most serious and solemn responsibility" for members of Congress and "not something we should trifle with or campaign on." By July, however, O'Rourke said that he could immediately vote as a House member to impeach Trump based on what liberals and the national media view as a disastrous summit appearance with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Based on O'Rourke's successful fund-raising, large crowds at campaign rallies, and respectable opinion polling, the magazine Politico declared that "Beto-mania" is sweeping Texas, an early warning to Senator Ted Cruz that he could be unseated in a "blue wave" in the November general election.
In August 2018, O'Rourke embarked on a 34-day road trip of all 254 counties in a white Dodge Grand Caravan. He stopped in such faraway rural communities as Archer City on the north central plains, which is portrayed as a dying town in the 1971 Peter Bogdanovich film, The Last Picture Show. O'Rourke is the first Democrat to campaign for the Senate in Archer City since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1948. Rarely has a Democratic candidate in Texas paid such close attention to rural counties. Later in the month in Texas City in Galveston County, O'Rourke drew an enthusiastic crowd of more than eight hundred at the Charles T. Doyle Convention Center. The crowd was compared to the throngs in 1990 that came out to support the Democrat Ann Richards in her successful gubernatorial race against Republican Clayton Wheat Williams, Jr. In his speech, the normally highly partisan O'Rourke called for "bipartisanship" and noted the passage of a veterans mental health care bill that he had sponsored, which President Trump signed into law in April: "It was a sign the different parties could — and should — still work together," O'Rourke said.
O'Rourke is expected to be succeeded in the House by fellow Democrat Veronica Escobar, who faces the Republican challenge of Rick Seeberger in the November 6 general election. In the March 6 primary, 49,868 voted in the District 16 Democratic contest, compared to only 10,489 on the Republican side.
- Bill Lambrecht, "From border to brink of Senate run, San Antonio Express-News, March 17, 2017, pp. 1, A9.
- Election Returns. Texas Secretary of State (March 6, 2018). Retrieved on March 9, 2018.
- Does Beto O'Rourke Stand a Chance Against Ted Cruz. Texasmonthly.com (January 2018). Retrieved on March 9, 2018.
- Bill Lambrecht, "From border to brink of Senate run," San Antonio Express-News, March 17, 2017, pp. 1, A9.
- Katie Leach (March 17, 2018). Democratic challenger agrees with Bill Maher that Ted Cruz is a 'giant a--hole'. The Washington Examiner. Retrieved on March 18, 2018.
- Gilbert Garcia, Artist seen as force in Democratic politics", San Antonio Express-News, March 16, 2018, p. A2.
- Katelyn Caralle. Beto O'Rourke: Southern border can be safer if lawmakers treat border communities with 'dignity and respect'. The Washington Examiner. Retrieved on April 6, 2018.
- Jeremy Wallace (April 5, 2018). Celebrities who are supporting Democrat Beto O'Rourke for Senate: Republican incumbent Ted Cruz also has enjoyed some support from the entertainment industry. The Houston Chronicle. Retrieved on April 7, 2018.
- Gilbert Garcia, "For O'Rourke, November means feast or famine" (commentary), The San Antonio Express-News, May 13, 2018, p. A2.
- O'Rourke town hall attracts 500-plus at Texas Tech. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on April 8, 2018.
- Gilbert Garcia, "Promises to impeach Trump send wrong message for Democrats" (commentary), The San Antonio Express-News, April 29, 2018, pp. 1, A2.
- Max Greenwood (July 17, 2018). O'Rourke calls for Trump's impeachment over Putin summit. Thehill.com. Retrieved on July 18, 2018.
- Ben Schreckinger (July 9, 2018). Beto-mania Sweeps Texas. Politico magazine. Retrieved on July 13, 2018.
- Kevin Diaz (August 10, 2018). Democrat Beto O'Rourke woos rural Texans in GOP strongholds, ignoring party playbook. The Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved on August 11, 2018.
- John Wayne Ferguson (August 22, 2018). O'Rourke draws large, enthusiastic crowd in Texas City. The Galveston County Daily News. Retrieved on September 9, 2018.