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Beto O'Rourke
Beto O'Rourke April 2019.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 16th district
In office
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2019
Preceded by Silvestre Reyes
Succeeded by Veronica Escobar
Member of the El Paso City Council
from the 8th district
In office
June 1, 2005 – June 27, 2011
Preceded by Anthony Cobos
Succeeded by Cortney Niland
Personal details
Robert Francis O'Rourke

September 26, 1972 (1972-09-26) (age 49)
El Paso, Texas, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Amy Hoover Sanders (m. 2005)
Children 3
Education Columbia University (BA)

Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke ( born September 26, 1972) is an American politician and businessman. He was the U.S. Representative for Texas's 16th congressional district from 2013 to 2019. He was elected to congress in 2012. He ran for President of the United States in 2020.

O'Rourke was the Democratic nominee in the 2018 Texas Senate race, challenging Republican incumbent Ted Cruz. He lost the general election to Cruz.

After the 2018 election, O'Rourke had been seen as a possible candidate for President of the United States in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. Other analysts have seen O'Rourke as the Democratic vice presidential candidate.

On March 13, 2019, O'Rourke announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President. He ended his bid on November 1, 2019.

Early life

O'Rourke was born on September 26, 1972 in El Paso, Texas, to Pat Francis O'Rourke and his second wife Melissa Martha O'Rourke (née Williams). He has Irish and Welsh ancestry. His family gave him the nickname in infancy "Beto", a common Spanish nickname for first names ending in "-berto".

O'Rourke studied at Columbia University, where he graduated in 1995. During his college years, he formed a band Band.

On May 19, 1995, O'Rourke and his friends sneaked under the fence at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) physical plant, and were arrested by the UTEP police for burglary. He stayed in jail overnight and posted bail the following day. He was initially charged with burglary, but UTEP decided not to press charges. O'Rourke was arrested for drunk driving after a car crash on September 27, 1998. The charges were dismissed in October 1999 after he completed a court-recommended DWI program.

Early career

In mid-2005, O'Rourke ran for the El Paso City Council on a platform of downtown development and border reform. O'Rourke defeated two-term incumbent City Councilman Anthony Cobos 57 percent to 43 percent. O'Rourke is one of the youngest representatives ever to have served on the City Council. In 2007, he won re-election to a second term, defeating Trini Acevedo 70 percent to 30 percent. During his first term, he supported a plan to convert a depressed area of El Paso into a business district, including an arena, major retailers, and an arts walk. In January 2009, O'Rourke sponsored a resolution calling for "comprehensive examination" of the War on Drugs and "the repeal of ineffective marijuana laws".

U.S. Representative

In 2012, O'Rourke filed for the Democratic primary against the eight-term Silvestre Reyes to represent Texas's 16th congressional district. The primary was seen as the real contest in the Democratic, Latino-majority district. O'Rourke won 50.5 percent of the vote. He defeated his Republican opponent, Barbara Carrasco, in the general election with 65 percent of the vote.

As a Congressman, he held at least one town hall meeting every month. In March 2013, O'Rourke and Republican Steve Pearce of New Mexico introduced the Border Enforcement Accountability, Oversight, and Community Engagement Act. In November 2014, O'Rourke was against Barack Obama's deferred action policy that used an executive action to bypass Congress in order to spare approximately 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, saying "the motive is noble, but the means are really hard to stomach."

O'Rourke endorsed Hillary Clinton for President, being one of the last Democratic congressmen to support her during the primary. As a sitting member of Congress, O'Rourke was a superdelegate to the Democratic National Convention.

2018 U.S. Senate election

On March 31, 2017, O'Rourke formally announced his candidacy for the United States Senate seat held by incumbent Republican Ted Cruz. In March 2018, O'Rourke became the Democratic Party nominee, winning 61.8 percent of the primary vote. O'Rourke campaigned in all of Texas's 254 counties, sometimes drawing large crowds and sometimes speaking to as few as 15 or 20 people.

His campaign employed the use of mass text messages. According to the 2018 third-quarter report from the FEC, his campaign spent US$7.3 million on digital advertising alone (in contrast with Cruz's $251,000).

He posted to social media daily, including Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and livestreamed his activities traveling the state, such as skateboarding in a Whataburger parking lot, washing clothes at a laundromat, and "blockwalking" in his constituents' neighborhoods.

On November 6, 2018, Ted Cruz defeated O'Rourke. Cruz won 51 percent of the vote, compared to 48 percent for O'Rourke.

2020 presidential campaign

In late 2018, speculation began that O'Rourke might run in the United States presidential election in 2020. On March 14, 2019, O'Rourke launched his campaign. He ended his campaign on November 1, 2019.

Personal life

O'Rourke married Amy Hoover Sanders in 2005. The couple and their three children live in El Paso's Sunset Heights area.

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