5 things to know about Beto O'Rourke, the Democratic candidate who shattered fundraising records
One of the latest Democrats to join the race for the party’s nomination for president is none other than Beto O’Rourke. Last year, O’Rourke became a big name on the national stage for the first time. Then a Democratic congressman, the young man from El Paso challenged incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz for his spot.
Without a doubt, O’Rourke was a long shot. But he mobilized people and came incredibly close to beating Cruz. With the declaration of his presidential campaign, O’Rourke is attempting yet another long shot. This time, he wants to go right from the House to the White House.
“This is going to be a positive campaign that seeks to bring out the very best from every single one of us, that seeks to unite a very divided country,” O’Rourke promised in his announcement video, embedded at the bottom of this post. “We can begin by fixing our democracy.”
O’Rourke wants to take down the barrier wall in El Paso, and believes comprehensive immigration reform is a necessity. He’s a supporter of Medicare for All in the long term. He supports the Green New Deal, wants to raise taxes on the wealthy, and wants stricter gun laws.
Here are five more quick refreshers on O’Rourke.
1. He raised an incredible amount in campaign donations
O’Rourke shattered records for fundraising when he was running for Senate in Texas. He raised a whopping $38 million during his third quarter, which broke records for donations raised in a single quarter by a Senate campaign. He claimed this average contribution was a simple $47, suggesting that his supporters were average Americans, not billionaires. He also rejected money from political action committees.
His presidential campaign seems to have the same momentum. His campaign reports that he raised a whopping $6.1 million in online fundraising in just a single day, beating out even Bernie Sanders.
2. He takes after his dad
Pat O’Rourke, the new presidential hopeful’s father, served as the El Paso County commissioner from 1978 to1982. Later, he was a county judge from 1982 to 1986.
3. He’s Irish American
Though Beto is a common nickname for Roberto in Mexico, O’Rourke isn’t Latinx. He’s actually Irish American. The nickname, according to O’Rourke, stems back to his childhood. His parents gave it to him and it simply stuck.
4. He’s a big fan of fellow rising star AOC
In an interview with Vanity Fair, O’Rourke shares his admiration for fellow rising star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “She does not seem to me to be afraid of making a mistake, or not saying it perfectly,” he tells the magazine. “And in the process says the most important—I think some of the most important—things anyone can be talking about right now, and she’s freed herself from fear.”
This admiration is no surprise. While the two share some political beliefs, their use of social media and digestible, conversational tones are probably the biggest common factor between them. This “regular” communication style may do serious work to make them appear approachable to voters.
5. He acknowledges his white privilege
O’Rourke was arrested twice in his younger years: first for trespassing on the campus of the University of Texas in El Paso, then later for driving while intoxicated. "I acknowledge the truth of the criticism that I have enjoyed white privilege," he said during a recording of the podcast Political Party LIVE! in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It’s pretty inarguable that had he been a person of color caught doing those things, he could have faced police violence, if not death.
Check out his announcement here: