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Who is Beto O’Rourke? Bio, age, family, and key positions



Who is Beto O’Rourke?

Current job: Candidate for of the president of the United States.

Age: 46

Family: O’Rourke’s wife is named Amy. They have two sons, Ulysses and Henry, as well as a daughter, Molly.

Hometown: El Paso, Texas.

Political party: Democratic

Previous jobs: Representative for Texas’ 16th congressional district from 2013 to 2019; El Paso city council member 2005-2011; Co-founder of software and internet services company Stanton Street Technology Group, which his wife now runs.

Who is Beto O’Rourke’s direct competition for the nomination?

Based on a recurring series of national surveys we conduct, we can figure out who the other candidates competing in Beto O’Rourke’s lane are, and who the broader opponents are within the party.

  • Respondents who would be satisfied with O’Rourke as nominee liked Joe Biden, an already popular candidate, even more than the general set of respondents who said they were registered to vote and would participate in the Democratic primary. All told, 72% of those happy with O’Rourke as nominee would also be happy with Biden as nominee a figure that exceeds the 66% of Democrats that would be happy with the former Veep atop the ticket.

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  • O’Rourke fans would also be happy with Senators Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren, with fans of O’Rourke more likely to be happy with those contenders as nomine than your typical respondent.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders is a particularly interesting rival. All told, half of the people who would be fine with O’Rourke as the nominee would also be satisfied with Sanders as the nominee. However, there was a strong aversion to Sanders among a cohort of Beto’s fans: a quarter of people who would be satisfied with O’Rourke as nominee would not be satisfied with Sanders as nominee, setting up an early intra-party ideological rivalry. In addition to those numbers, O’Rourke and Sanders are two of the most formidable fundraisers in the Democratic field, making them both top tier candidates.

INSIDER has been conducting a recurring poll through SurveyMonkey Audience on a national sample to find out how different candidate’s constituencies overlap. We ask people whether they are familiar with a candidate, whether they would be satisfied or unsatisfied with that candidate as nominee, and sometimes we also ask whether they think that person would win or lose in a general election against President Donald Trump.

Read more about how we’re polling this here.

What are Beto O’Rourke’s political positions?

  • On healthcare:
    • O’Rourke has explicitly supported a healthcare proposal entitled “Medicare for America.” This plan would allow Americans to buy into Medicare, which is often dubbed “the public option.”
    • Unlike healthcare proposals from candidates like Sanders and Harris who support “Medicare for all,” this plan would allow Americans who are satisfied with their private and employer-based health insurance to stay with their provider.
  • On immigration:
    • O’Rourke has called for tearing down existing border walls in the El Paso area of Texas.
    • While Trump held a rally in El Paso just before O’Rourke announced his bid, the former Texas congressman held a march in protest.
    • During that march, O’Rourke touted the city’s low crime rate and dismissed the narrative of immigrant-related crime that Trump regularly elevates.
    • “With the eyes of the country upon us, all of us together are going to make our stand here in one of the safest cities in America,” O’Rourke said. “Safe not because of walls but in spite of walls.”
  • On climate change:
  • On campaign finance:
    • During his failed Senate run in Texas in the 2018 midterm elections, O’Rourke swore off donations from PACs and corporate donors. Despite this, he still accomplished massive fundraising hauls, which he has since replicated in the early weeks of his presidential campaign.
  • On abortion:
  • On LGBTQ rights:
    • O’Rourke supports marriage equality.
    • He has supported transgender Americans being allowed to serve in the US military.
    • “Every time we’ve made our military more reflective of America, it’s been made stronger,” he wrote in a 2017 Facebook post criticizing the Trump administration. “Every time America has opened opportunities to those previously denied it, we’ve become stronger.”
  • On Supreme Court and congressional issues:
    • O’Rourke has called for expanding the number of Supreme Court justices, a common position among Democrats who are upset with the pace at which Republicans have confirmed judges and justice to lifetime-appointed roles during the past two years.
    • O’Rourke has called for abolishing the Electoral College.
    • He has said he believes in term limits for members of Congress.
  • On guns:
    • O’Rourke has called for banning the future sale of the AR-15, the most popular rifle in the United States.
    • He added that Americans who already own an AR-15, of which there are already about 10 million of according to recent estimates, should “continue to use it responsibly and safely.”
  • On criminal justice reform:
    • O’Rourke wants to end the prohibition on marijuana at the federal level and the expungement of past convictions for marijuana.
    • He has said he would suspend the death penalty at the federal level as president, but supported capital punishment by voting for the Thin Blue Line Act in 2017, which boosted prosecutors’ ability to seek the death penalty in cases involving attacks on police and law enforcement.
    • In a 2018 op-ed for the Houston Chronicle, O’Rourke called for abolishing private and for-profit prisons, ending mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent crimes, and reforming the bail process.
  • On trade:
    • O’Rourke has spoken out against the Trump administration’s practice of placing tariffs on the steel and aluminum industries, saying during a Texas Senate debate they will “devastate our state, businesses, & economy.”
    • He was a cosponsor on the Promoting US Jobs Through Exports Act of 2015, which sought to raise caps on outstanding loans and insurance for the Export-Import Bank.
  • On foreign policy:
    • O’Rourke supported the Iran Nuclear Deal from the Barack Obama administration, from which President Donald Trump has since departed.
    • He called Trump’s defense of Russian President Vladimir Putin at their summit in Helsinki, Finland “collusion in action” and has regularly called for taking a harsher stance toward Russian aggression.
    • However, O’Rourke voted against House resolution in 2014 that condemned Russian and Putin for carrying out “a policy of aggression against neighboring countries aimed at political and economic domination.”
  • On taxes:
    • O’Rourke voted against the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which Republicans passed to lower taxes on individuals and corporations, eliminate deductions, but was not revenue neutral.

What are Beto O’Rourke’s political successes?

  • He has been praised for his bipartisanship during his tenure in Congress. In 2018, he was the recipient of the Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life along with fellow Texas Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican.
  • In 2013, O’Rourke authored a part of the 2013 appropriations bill that advanced tuition assistance for members of the US armed forces.
  • O’Rourke was the driving force behind the Honor Our Commitment Act, which is now law. The law expands mental health coverage at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs for veterans with “bad paper” discharges.
  • Trump signed O’Rourke’s Express Appeals Act into law in 2017. The law started a program at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to streamline the appeals process for disability compensation.
  • He is a prolific fundraiser and a sought after commodity for Democrats looking to receive an endorsement in down-ballot races.

How much money has Beto O’Rourke raised?

In the first 24 hours since the start of his campaign, O’Rourke raised $6.1 million from 128,000 different donations, averaging $48 per contribution. This easily cemented his placement in the Democratic primary debates, as candidates must reach at least 65,000 individual contributions or clear 1% in at least three separate polls.

Could Beto O’Rourke beat President Trump?

Referring back to INSIDER’s recurring poll, Beto O’Rourke overall is believed to be a stronger candidate in a general election against Donald Trump than your typical Democrat. While a majority were unsure how Beto would fare in the general, among those who said they were probably Democratic primary voters, just over two-in-five said they thought Beto would win, 6 percentage points higher than the overall average for the Democrats we asked about.

Read more of our stories on Beto O’Rourke:

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