O’Rourke Launches Presidential Bid

A force to be reckoned with


Richard W. Rodriguez/AP/REX/Shut

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Richard W. Rodriguez

Former Representative and 2018 Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke joined the 2020 Democratic primary field last Friday, becoming the 14th Democrat to officially declare his or her candidacy for President. O’Rourke was largely a political unknown before jumping into the Senate race against Senator Ted Cruz last year, notably raising over 80 million dollars and coming within 4 points of victory in deep-red Texas. Beto visited all 254 counties in Texas during that campaign, leading big rallies and generating one of the highest voter turnouts in the history of the state. O’Rourke began his campaign with a similarly rapid series of visits to Iowa, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. He is planning to visit the Upper Midwest in the coming days.

At age 46, O’Rourke is one of the younger candidates in a pool dominated by septuagenarians.  Before running for Senate, O’Rourke represented the City of El Paso in the House of Representatives for 6 years. Prior to his House tenure, O’Rourke was a member of the El Paso City Council. O’Rourke launched his political career as an outsider, knocking off a two-term councilman in his first bid. In 2012, he defeated an incumbent Democratic congressman to win election to the House of Representatives. O’Rourke’s campaigns, while characterized by hopeful idealism, failed to lead to meaningful policy implementation while in office. Since his time as a relative outsider, however, Beto has sought to ingratiate himself with the Democratic establishment, positioning himself as a moderate.

At age 46, O’Rourke is one of the younger candidates in a pool dominated by septuagenarians. ”

Still, O’Rourke remains a formidable force in Democratic politics, raising more than 6 million dollars on his first day of campaigning. O’Rourke’s youthful aura presents a stark contrast with many of the older candidates. Concerns about a lack of prior preparation (the last President elected directly from the House was James Garfield) may be balanced against the incumbent President’s total lack of political experience prior to his ascension. He is extremely popular not only for his youth, but for his oratorical skills. O’Rourke is known for his ability to captivate audiences with powerful speeches, having been favorably compared to both John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama.

Beto will face an uphill battle against the better-known and older candidates, like Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. He’ll also potentially face scrutiny for his past DWI arrest and budding punk rock career. Notably, O’Rourke skateboarded across the stage at one of his rallies, an activity seen by some as unbefitting a candidate for higher office. Perhaps Democrats will opt for a more experienced candidate, or maybe O’Rourke will provide the excitement voters are looking for.