Beto O’Rourke was a Congressman from Texas for three terms, and in 2018 ran for the Senate. He came close to securing the seat, but was defeated. Many predict he will run for the Presidency in 2020.
Beto O’Rourke’s full name is Robert Francis O’Rourke. He was born in El Paso, Texas in September 1972. He was given the nickname “Beto,” which is a common nickname for Spanish speaking families with children named Roberto. In the family’s area of Texas, this was a very common nickname, and it stuck with Beto throughout his life.
Beto’s father, Pat O’Rourke, was born in 1942. His mother is named Melissa Martha Williams. Pat and Melissa also had two daughters, Charlotte and Erin. Beto, Charlotte, and Erin are considered fourth generation Americans, their ancestors being Irish immigrants.
Pat O’Rourke was an elected judge in Texas and worked with several politicians. Melissa owns a high-end furniture store and has national political connections as well through her stepfather.
Beto O’Rourke and his siblings spent a great deal of time as children campaigning and attending political events with their father, Pat. Political events became a normal part of their childhood.
Beto O’Rourke attended public schools in El Paso until the end of his high school career when he began attending a boarding school in Virginia, where he graduated. In 1991, Beto O’Rourke interned in Congressman Ron Coleman’s office.
In 1995, Beto graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature. While at Columbia, he was part of the rowing team.
After college, Beto faced a couple of legal challenges. In 1995, O’Rourke was arrested for burglary after trespassing on the University of Texas El Paso campus, but the charges were later dropped. In 1998, O’Rourke faced charges for driving while intoxicated, but the charges were dropped when he voluntarily participated in a DWI program. He has been open about this incident throughout his various campaigns.
Beto O’Rourke also enjoys music. He played both the bass and drums in various rock bands in the 1990s. He traveled throughout the United States and even Canada during this time, and recorded an album as well.
In September 2005, Beto O’Rourke married Amy Hoover Sanders. The couple has three children. They have two sons named Henry and Ulysses and a daughter named Molly. The family practices Roman Catholicism.
A few years after he graduated college, Beto O’Rourke began an Internet services company, and still operates the business with his wife. His company also published online and print independent periodicals, but only did so for a few years.
Before beginning his company, Stanton Street Technology Group, Beto worked as a caretaker, proofreader, writer, and more.
In 2011, Beto O’Rourke co-authored a book called Dealing with Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the U.S. and Mexico.
Political Party Affiliation
Beto O’Rourke is a Democrat and has held partisan positions in the past. He comes from a traditionally Republican family; however, his father worked as State Chair Person for Jesse Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns. As well, his mother began voting as a Democrat in 2000.
In 2005, Beto O’Rourke ran for El Paso City Council. He coordinated with two fellow candidates in that race, and all of them won their seats. They were given the nickname “The Progressives.” When he won that seat, Beto defeated an incumbent City Councilor. He served on the El Paso City Council from 2005 until 2011.
In 2012, Beto O’Rourke ran to represent the 16th Congressional District in Texas. He had to challenge an incumbent Congressman in the primary. Silvestre Reyes served the district for eight terms in Congress, and Beto defeated him in the primary.
There was a general election between Beto, the Democratic nominee and the Republican nominee, Barbara Carrasco. O’Rourke carried the significant majority of votes and won the seat.
In 2014, Beto O’Rourke ran for re-election to Congress and won the election easily with nearly 70 percent of the vote.
In 2016, he ran again for re-election to his Congressional seat. He was challenged by a Green party nominee as well as a Libertarian party nominee, but he again retained his seat.
Beto O’Rourke did not seek re-election to his Congressional seat in 2018. Instead, he ran as the Democratic nominee for the Senate in Texas. He challenged incumbent Senator Ted Cruz. Beto O’Rourke’s run for the seat was widely viewed as a long shot, given the conservative political makeup of the district. However, he did perform better than expected. On election day, Beto O’Rourke earned 48 percent of the vote compared to Ted Cruz’z 51 percent. Given that no Democrat has been elected statewide in Texas since the 1990s, this was considered a victory despite the technical loss.
Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate campaign raised more money than any other United State’s Senate campaign ever before, despite the fact that Beto O’Rourke refused to accept funds from Political Action Committees (PACs).
Presidential Aspirations and Candidacy
As of March 1, 2019, Beto O’Rourke has not yet formally announced his intention to run for President in 2020. In 2018, he did share that he was unlikely to run for President due to the ages of his children. However, since that time, there has been much speculation about his possible intentions. Beto O’Rourke said the week of February 25, 2019, that he had made a decision. His website address and email signatures have been edited to remove Texas from them and to be more general. Members of his campaign team have also met with Democratic strategists.
All of this is fueling the belief that Beto O’Rourke is sure to announce a run for the Presidency in 2020, joining several Democratic leaders in the party primary.
Much speculation about O’Rourke’s intentions for 2020 is due to the widespread fame he achieved in the 2018 Senate campaign. He achieved national fame during the 2018 Senate campaign for his progressive politics, charismatic personality, and massive social media presence. Those facets of the campaign led to national recognition from residents of states outside Texas.