Beto O’Rourke is a Democrat from El Paso, Texas, who narrowly failed to beat Sen. Ted Cruz in the 2018 midterms. O'Rourke became a household name as a result of his charismatic speeches, local approach to politics and authenticity on social media. He famously visited all 254 counties in Texas.
- Age: 46
- Born: El Paso, Texas
- Undergraduate: Columbia University
- Date candidacy announced: March 14, 2019
- % of votes in line with Trump, per FiveThirtyEight: 30.1%
- Previous roles: 3-term representative for Texas' 16th district, served on El Paso City Council 2005–2011.
Stance on key issues:
- Health care: O'Rourke has vacillated between endorsing single-payer and Medicare for All, instead opting to put stock in Medicare for America, which aims to expand "government-run health coverage while keeping employer-sponsored insurance plans," CNN reports.
- Climate change: He proposed an aggressive, detailed $5 trillion plan to address climate change, calling it the "greatest threat we face." It aims for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
- Taxes: He has derided business tax cuts and opposed the GOP tax overhaul of 2017. O’Rourke voted in favor of an oil tax in 2016 that would have taxed $10 on every barrel of crude oil.
- Gun control: Called for universal background checks and limits on sale of AR-15s. Opposes requiring states to recognize concealed carry permits granted in other states.
- Immigration: Vocal critic of Trump's border wall with Mexico. Said U.S. should not criminalize migrants who request asylum between ports of entry.
- Supreme Court reform: Said "an idea we should explore" is to have 5 justices selected by Democrats and 5 by Republicans. They would then select 5 more for a total of 20. Also offered the idea of term limits.
- College tuition: Not on the bill for debt-free college.
- Minimum wage: Supports increasing minimum wage to $15 per hour.
- Marijuana: Favors decriminalization and expunging criminal records for cannabis-related offenses.
- Transparency: Would require cabinet to hold monthly town halls.
- Big Tech: Doesn't support breaking up Big Tech firms, claiming it would not "ensure dynamism in our economy and address corporate concentration."
- Voting rights: Announced goal of registering more than 50 million voters and ensuring that 35 million more votes are cast in 2024.
- Lack of progressive policy: Democratic activists question whether O'Rourke is truly progressive enough to clinch the nomination. He was a member of the New Democrat Coalition, which aligned closely with business interests.
- Energy policy: O'Rourke has opposed legislation that would prevent drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
- Business policy: He has voted in favor of bills that Democrats said would reduce independent audits of corporations.
- Behavior in his teenage years: When he was 15, he wrote a piece of fiction about killing children, about which he has since expressed regret: "I’m mortified to read it now, incredibly embarrassed, but I have to take ownership of my words."
- Hacking: Was a member of America's oldest hacking group, Cult of the Dead Cow, in the 1980s.
1 fun thing
Editor's note: This story has been updated to note that O'Rourke visited all 254 Texas counties, not districts.
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