How Beto O’Rourke is working to become a household name

All eyes have been on the Texas Senate race this cycle, as three-term Congressman Beto O’Rourke takes on Republican incumbent Ted Cruz.

The 45-year-old Democratic hopeful has garnered national attention for his candid campaign style: he recently broke the record for fundraising for a U.S. Senate candidate in a single quarter, raking in $38.1 million for his campaign from July through September.

O’Rourke grew up in a political family in El Paso. His father held various local government seats, including county commissioner and county judge, according to the Dallas News. O’Rourke followed those footsteps after attending Columbia University and returning to El Paso.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images
Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, walks down the House steps of the Capitol following the last votes of the week, June 14, 2013.

He hasn’t lost a political race thus far, winning seats twice on the El Paso City Council and three times in the U.S. House.

His appeal, for some, is rooted in his laid-back demeanor.

O’Rourke rides his skateboard into rallies, sweats through all of his t-shirts and livestreams videos of himself jamming to “The Who” after his senatorial debates. He may be a career politician, but he’s tried to craft himself for a new era of voters and politics in America.

O’Rourke embraced the progressive agenda from the beginning. According to the Dallas Newstext to , O’Rourke recruited progressives for a liberal city council, aiming to work on issues like urban sprawl and development.

O’Rourke has been candid about his 1998 DWI charge, saying in an August 2017 interview with the Palestine Herald-Press, “I have no excuse for my behavior then. However, since then, I have used my opportunities to serve my community and my state. I’m grateful for the second chance and believe we all deserve second chances.”

He has pinned his platform on education reform, health care, and immigration.

His steadfast embrace of the non-traditional has built him a strong base, but in a deep-red state with a powerful incumbent, he has encountered pushback from a conservative-leaning electorate. Recent polls show him falling behind Cruz in a large single-digit lead.

O’Rourke has signaled his intention to continue his fight to turn the seat blue, saying that he will not share the millions he raised in the third quarter with other candidates, in hopes to close the widening gap between him and Cruz.

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