|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Texas's 16th district
Assumed office |
January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||Silvestre Reyes|
|Member of the El Paso City Council|
from the 8th district
June 1, 2005 – June 27, 2011
|Preceded by||Anthony Cobos|
|Succeeded by||Cortney Niland|
Robert Francis O'Rourke|
September 26, 1972
El Paso, Texas, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Amy Hoover Sanders (m. 2005)|
|Education||Columbia University (BA)|
Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke (//; born September 26, 1972) is an American politician and businessman serving as the U.S. Representative for Texas's 16th congressional district in his native El Paso, first elected in 2012. He is the Democratic nominee in the 2018 Texas Senate race, challenging Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.
O'Rourke won the general election held in November 2012, defeating U.S. Representative Silvestre Reyes in the Democratic primary earlier that year. The district includes most of El Paso County. Prior to his election to Congress, O'Rourke was on the El Paso City Council, from June 2005 to June 2011. On March 31, 2017, O'Rourke announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Texas Senator Ted Cruz in the 2018 election.
- 1 Early life, education, and music career
- 2 Business career (1995–2005)
- 3 El Paso City Council (2005–2011)
- 4 U.S. House of Representatives (2012–present)
- 5 2018 Senate campaign
- 6 Political views
- 7 Personal life
- 8 Publications
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early life, education, and music career
O'Rourke is a fourth-generation Irish American, born in El Paso, the son of Melissa Martha (Williams) and El Paso County Judge Pat Francis O'Rourke. He was nicknamed "Beto", which is a common Spanish nickname for "Roberto", before kindergarten. His father was a political associate of former Texas Governor Mark White. Judge O'Rourke was killed in July 2001, at the age of fifty-eight, when he was struck from behind by a car while riding his bicycle over the New Mexico state line.
O'Rourke attended Carlos Rivera and Mesita Elementary Schools and El Paso High School. He graduated from Woodberry Forest School in 1991. In the early 1990s, he was a bassist in the band Foss, which included Cedric Bixler-Zavala (vocalist for At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta) on vocals and drums, Arlo Klahr on vocals and guitar, and Mike Stevens on vocals and guitar. The group released a self-titled demo and a 7" record, "The El Paso Pussycats", on Western Breed Records in 1993. They released a subsequent album, "Fewel Street", in 1995, also on Western. Foss toured the United States and Canada in the summer of 1993 and again, along with Bixler's concurrent band, Los Dregtones, in the summer of 1994.
O'Rourke attended Columbia University where he captained Columbia's rowing crew. He graduated from Columbia in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature. orourke/4308607c-4bb7-11e2-8758-b64a2997a921_topic.html|title=Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas)|work=Washington Post | date=December 21, 2012}}</ref> He is fluent in Spanish.
Business career (1995–2005)
Following college, O'Rourke worked at Internet service providers in New York City before his return to El Paso in 1998. The following year, he co-founded Stanton Street Technology, an internet services and software company that develops websites and software. His wife, Amy, operates the business as of March 2017.
El Paso City Council (2005–2011)
In mid-2005, O'Rourke ran for the El Paso City Council, and defeated two-term incumbent City Councilman Anthony Cobos, 57%–43%. O'Rourke is one of the youngest representatives to have ever served on the City Council. In 2007, he won re-election to a second term, defeating Trini Acevedo, 70%–30%.
In January 2009, O'Rourke sponsored a resolution calling for a "comprehensive examination" of the War on Drugs and "the repeal of ineffective marijuana laws". The resolution, which was unanimously supported by his colleagues on the El Paso City Council, was vetoed by then-Mayor John Cook and spurred a larger national discussion on the topic. He told reporters that the reason he decided to speak up about what he called the failed war on drugs was the thousands of people who have been killed in the drug war in the adjoining city of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. "I hope it has all had its intended effect of starting the national discussion of the wisdom of the war on drugs […] and probably more importantly, helping to bring about a better solution than the status quo, which has led to the terror and tragedy in Juarez.
U.S. House of Representatives (2012–present)
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 this heavily Democratic, majority-Latino district. O'Rourke took 50.5 percent of the vote, just a few hundred votes above the threshold required to avoid a runoff against Reyes. He was contrasted with Reyes in his support for LGBT rights and drug liberalization. He defeated his Republican opponent, Barbara Carrasco, in the general election with 65 percent of the vote.
O'Rourke won re-election in 2014 with 67% of the vote.
During the fall of 2014, O'Rourke donated at least $28,000 from his own campaign funds to fellow Democratic candidates for House seats.
- Committee on Armed Services
- Committee on Veterans' Affairs
In 2013, O'Rourke attempted to join the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a 26-member group established in 1976 that includes as its goals “voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands." He was denied membership due to lacking Hispanic heritage. His congressional predecessor, Silvestre Reyes, was a member and also appointed as a Chair for 2 years.
2018 Senate campaign
On March 31, 2017, O'Rourke formally announced his candidacy for the United States Senate seat held by incumbent Republican Party member Ted Cruz. O'Rourke raised $2 million within the first three months, mostly from small donations (he had pledged not to accept PAC contributions for his Senate campaign, though "he drew on about $297,000 in PAC donations in his House bids of 2012 and 2014").
In March 2018, O'Rourke became the Democratic Party nominee, winning 61.8% of the primary vote. He received his first major organizational endorsement from End Citizens United in June 2017, which found that he had tripled fundraising of Cruz without using corporate special interest money.
O'Rourke favors the legalization of cannabis on grounds that the war against narcotics cannot be won. In 2011 O'Rourke co-authored a book, Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the U.S. and Mexico, which in part argues for an end to the prohibition on marijuana. O’Rourke has tweeted his opposition to the War on Drugs.
O'Rourke has a lifetime score of 100% from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and a rating of 100% from NARAL Pro-Choice America. He voted against the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017, which made a permanent prohibition on the use of federal funds for abortions and made reforms to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to prohibit qualified health plans from including coverage for abortions.[non-primary source needed]
O'Rourke told the Dallas Voice that he called marriage equality a core civil rights issue during his House primary campaign. While on the El Paso City Council, O’Rourke led a successful fight to overturn the domestic partnership ban. He was a co-sponsor of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2013 (H.R. 3135).
O'Rourke favors comprehensive immigration reform. O'Rourke opposed Trump's decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which granted temporary stay to some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors. O'Rourke said it is a "top priority" to protect DREAMers. He has criticized President Donald Trump's rhetoric on immigration, saying that Trump is "constantly stoking anxiety and fear about Mexicans, immigrants and the border with Mexico. Unfortunately this President takes another step into a dark world of fear, isolation and separation."
Ted Cruz asserted in 2018 that O'Rourke wanted "open borders and wants to take our guns." PolitiFact found that Cruz's claims were "false"; noting that O'Rourke had "not called for opening the borders or for government agents to take guns from law-abiding residents."
O'Rourke asserted in 2018 that "precisely zero terrorists, terrorist groups or terror plots have ever been connected with the U.S.-Mexico border to do harm to people within the United States." PolitiFact found that O'Rourke's claim was "false"; noting that O'Rourke's claim was consistent with the State Department's declarations (the department found no credible information on terrorists operating on the border) and that experts believed instances of terrorists operating on the border to be extremely rare, but that "zero means nothing--and it's not so that there have been absolutely no cases of terrorists or terrorist plots tied to the border."
Beto O'Rourke recently led protests in Tornillo, Texas, a city located right outside of the congressional district that he represents, protesting against the separation of children of immigrant families. The city is located just miles from the Rio Grande, the river that creates the border of the United States and Mexico in the state of Texas. The city is now home to a "tent-city" where separated children are being held without their parents. O'Rourke called this "Un-American" and is the responsibility of all Americans.
O'Rourke has expressed support for single-payer legislation to achieve universal health coverage. He supports stabilization of the insurance markets to improve the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. He also supports the expansion of Medicaid and is a co-sponsor of the Medicare-X Choice Act of 2017.
On the evening of June 22, 2016, O'Rourke participated in the sit-in in the House of Representatives that attempted to force a vote on gun control legislation. When the Republicans ordered C-SPAN to turn off its normal coverage of the chamber, O'Rourke and Representative Scott Peters transmitted images by cell phone to social media for C-SPAN to broadcast.
He supports universal background checks for gun purchases. On March 7, 2018, O'Rourke told Alisyn Camerota of CNN that "We have a great tradition and culture of gun ownership and gun safety for hunting, for sport, for self-defense... I think that can allow Texas to take the lead on a really tough issue, which the country is waiting for leadership and action on." He has called for a complete ban on assault rifles.
In July 2018, O'Rourke said that Trump's performance while attending the 2018 Russia–United States summit in Helsinki warranted impeachment. Addressing the Trump-Putin joint press conference of July 16, he stated that standing "on stage in another country with the leader of another country who wants to and has sought to undermine this country, and to side with him over the United States — if I were asked to vote on this I would vote to impeach the president".
In 2016, when Nancy Pelosi faced a leadership challenge from Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, O'Rourke backed Ryan. O'Rourke said that he believed in term limits, and therefore that it was time for new leadership.
O'Rourke married Amy Hoover Sanders, the daughter of Louann and William Sanders of El Paso, on September 24, 2005 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The couple has three children. Sanders is the director of education development for the La Fe Community Development Corporation and executive director of the La Fe Preparatory charter school.
In 2013, LegiStorm reported that O'Rourke may have violated the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act, which prohibits members of Congress from participating in the initial public offering (IPO) of company stocks. O'Rourke had purchased seven stocks, including stock in Twitter, at IPO prices, seeing a 39 percent increase on shares that he sold either the same day or within days of IPOs. After being contacted by LegiStorm, O'Rourke reported himself to the United States House Committee on Ethics. The case was closed by the ethics committee after O'Rourke acknowledged that he may have violated the law and agreed to sell his remaining IPO shares and surrender his $7,136 in profit to the U.S. Treasury.
- O'Rourke, Beto and Byrd, Susie (2011). Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the U.S. and Mexico, Cinco Puntos Press ISBN 1933693940
- "Beto O'Rourke, Marijuana Legalization Supporter, Beats Rep. Silvestre Reyes (UPDATE)". Huffingtonpost.com. May 29, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- Roberts, Chris. "District 16: Beto O'Rourke coasts into Congress". elpasotimes.com. Archived from the original on January 22, 2013. Retrieved November 7, 2012.
- Draper, Robert (November 14, 2014). "Texas, 3 Ways". New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
- Fernandez, Manny (February 17, 2016). "Pope's Presence Crosses Border Into U.S., Even if He Doesn't". New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
- [dead link]
- Obituaries from the El Paso Times, July 1-7, 2001
- Stanton, John (October 14, 2014). "Juarez's Biggest Booster Is An Irish-American Congressman". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
- "`So he changed his name to Beto and hid it with a grin.' On the deeper purposes of the Cruz jingle. - First Reading".
- Bill Lambrecht, "From border to brink of Senate run," San Antonio Express-News, March 17, 2017, pp. 1, A9
- "A Chat With Beto O'Rourke, the Ex-Punk Bassist Running for Ted Cruz's Senate Seat". Spin. October 4, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
- "Does Beto O'Rourke Stand a Chance Against Ted Cruz?". www.texasmonthly.com. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
- "Beto O'Rourke (D)". projects.wsj.com. Retrieved January 3, 2013.
- "New Silvestre Reyes ad attacks Beto O'Rourke's character". The El Paso Times. Archived from the original on 2014-09-19.
- Fernandez, Manny. "Texas Incumbent Loses In Democratic Primary". New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
- "Controlling Cyberspace: What's at stake with net neutrality". KFOX TV. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
- "Beto O'Rourke". Retrieved March 29, 2017.
- Lovegrove, Jamie (March 31, 2017). "Beto O'Rourke launches 2018 Senate campaign in underdog bid to unseat Ted Cruz". Dallas News. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
- "El Paso City Council District 8 Race – May 07, 2005". Our Campaigns. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- "2005 General Election". Elpasotexas.gov. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on July 10, 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2010.
- "Our Campaigns – El Paso City Council District 8 Race – May 12, 2007". ourcampaigns.com.
- "Low turnout not as big a surprise as voting trends". El Paso Times.com.[permanent dead link]
- Smith, Philipp S. (February 16, 2010). "The First City in America to Criminalize Marijuana Passes Resolution Criticizing Drug War". AlterNet. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
- Smith, Jordan (2009-01-12). "El Paso Council Wants to End the War on Drugs". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- "El Paso's small step". The Economist. 2009-09-24. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- Sledge, Matt (2012-04-18). "Rep. Silvestre Reyes, Challenger Beto O'Rourke Square Off Over Drug War In Fierce Texas Primary". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- Crowder, David (January 9, 2009). "O'Rourke in national headlights over 12 words in Drug War resolution". Newspaper Tree. Archived from the original on March 7, 2009. Retrieved April 2, 2017.
- "Beto O'Rourke defeats Silvestre Reyes in 2012 primary election for Congress". El Paso Times.[permanent dead link]
- Taffet, David (January 4, 2013). "El Paso's Beto O'Rourke among strongest new LGBT allies in Congress". Dallas Voice. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
- Ortiz Uribe, Mónica (May 14, 2012). "West Texas Congressional Race Could Yield Surprises". Fronteras Desk. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
- Tribune, The Texas. "U.S. House District 16 | The Texas Tribune". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- Willis, Derek (November 2, 2014). "House Democrats Dig Deep for Cash, From Their Colleagues' Campaigns". New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
- "Congressman O'Rourke to seek re-election". El Paso Times. October 13, 2015. Retrieved June 24, 2016.
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- "Members". New Democrat Coalition. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
- "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
- Aguilar, Julián (2013-07-24). "El Paso Lawmaker Can't Join Hispanic Caucus; Some Seek Rule Change". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 2018-03-21.
- "Rep. Beto O'Rourke to launch Senate run against Ted Cruz Friday". The Texas Tribune. March 29, 2017. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
- "Democratic congressman raises $2M in bid against Sen. Ted Cruz". USA Today. July 13, 2017. Retrieved November 11, 2017.
- Rahman, Fauzeya (July 27, 2017). "Checking Beto O'Rourke on near-uniqueness not taking PAC aid". @politifact. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
- "Texas Primary Election Results". Retrieved 7 March 2018.
- "Well-funded anti-Citizens United group backs O'Rourke in Senate challenge against Cruz". Dallas News.
- "A Democrat no one's heard of just raised triple the amount Ted Cruz did, despite rejecting special interest money". Business Insider.
- "Beto O'Rourke's El Paso roots may be key in his uphill battle against Ted Cruz". March 10, 2018.
- "Beto O'Rourke on Twitter".
- Baumann, Michael (2018-02-28). "How Beto O'Rourke Explains America". The Ringer. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- "Beto O'Rourke - NARAL Pro-Choice America". NARAL Pro-Choice America. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- O'Rourke, Rep Beto (January 26, 2017). "Why I voted no on H.R. 7".
- "El Paso's Beto O'Rourke among strongest new LGBT allies in Congress - Dallas Voice". January 4, 2013.
- Mark, Pocan, (January 22, 2014). "Cosponsors - H.R.3135 - 113th Congress (2013-2014): Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2013". www.congress.gov.
- O'Keefe, Ed (2018-03-06). "Ted Cruz calls out challenger Beto O'Rourke in a sign of a tough fight to come in Texas". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
- "Protecting 'Dreamers' top priority, O'Rourke says at State of Congress luncheon". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
- "O'Rourke addresses needs, concerns related to DACA". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
- O'Rourke, Rep Beto (2017-03-01). "Thoughts on the joint session of Congress". Rep. Beto O'Rourke. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
- "Ted Cruz: Beto O'Rourke wants open border and to take guns". @politifact. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
- Silver, Jonathan (May 3, 2018). "Beto O'Rourke: Zero terror plots at U.S.-Mexico border". @politifact. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
- "Where do Texas Democrats Stand on Single-Payer Health Care?". The Texas Observer. 2017-09-20. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
- firstname.lastname@example.org, Glenn Evans. "In Longview stop, O'Rourke says he's confident gun measure will pass".
- "Healthcare - Beto for Senate".
- Brian, Higgins, (October 27, 2017). "H.R.4094 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): Medicare-X Choice Act of 2017". www.congress.gov.
- Woolf, Nicky (2016-06-23). "Democrats stream gun control sit-in on Periscope after Republicans turn TV cameras off". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-02.
- Benson, Eric (21 December 2017). "Does Beto O'Rourke Stand a Chance Against Ted Cruz?". Texas Monthly. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
- CNN, Veronica Stracqualursi,. "O'Rourke defends gun control stance in Texas Senate race".
- Tribune, The Texas (February 23, 2018). "We asked all 38 Texans in Congress about gun control after the Florida school shooting. Ten answered".
- Hagen, Lisa. "Russia raises problems for GOP candidates". The Hill. Retrieved 19 July 2018.
- Panetta, Grace. "A major Democratic Senate candidate just called for Trump's impeachment after his press conference with Putin". Business Insider. Retrieved 18 July 2018.
- "Public Figures and Organizations That Signed the Pledge". Retrieved June 9, 2018.
- Svitek, Patrick (2017-09-23). "O'Rourke praises Pelosi but doesn't want her help in Senate bid". The Texas Tribune. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
- Moore, Robert (June 10, 2016). "Rep. Beto O'Rourke endorses Hillary Clinton". El Paso Times. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
- "U.S. Rep. Robert "Beto" O'Rourke". Texas Tribune. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
- "Congressman may have broken ethics rules with Twitter stock purchase". The Denver Post. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
- Phillips, Lauren (26 November 2013). "El Paso congressman's IPO stake in Twitter questioned". Dallas News. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
- Horwitz, Jeff (May 7, 2015). "Millionaire Florida Congressman flipped shares in IPO despite US law". Business Insider. Associated Press. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
- "Congressman Disgorges IPO Stock Profits". Roll Call. 29 November 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2018.
- Representative Beto O'Rourke official U.S. House website
- Beto O'Rourke for Senate
- Beto O'Rourke at Curlie (based on DMOZ)
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Beto leading "Bike-To-Work Week"
- (subscription required)The Bloody Border, Time, April 23, 2009
- Lights, Camera, Mayhem!, Texas Observer
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 16th congressional district
|Party political offices|
| Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Texas
|Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Representatives by seniority