Robert Francis O’Rourke, better known by his nickname Beto, is currently the Democratic candidate for governor in the state of Texas. O’Rourke has been called “Texas’ best known Democrat,” having run for a Senate seat in his home state, the presidency of the United States, and now, a gubernatorial seat. While O’Rourke only gained national fame after running against Senator Ted Cruz in 2017, he began participation in politics in his hometown of El Paso, Texas in 2011. Considered a “long shot” in Texas politics, O’Rourke has become a media darling for the national Democratic Party
|Celebrated Name:||Beto O’Rourke|
|Real Name/Full Name:||Robert Francis O’Rourke|
|Birthdate:||September 26, 1972|
|Birthplace:||El Paso, TX|
|Height:||6 ft. 4 in.|
|Children/Kids:||Two sons – Ulysses and Henry; One daughter – Molly|
|Is Beto O’Rourke Gay?||No|
|Highest Political Office:||United States House of Representatives (Texas’ 16th Congressional District)|
|Colleges Attended:||Columbia University|
|Degrees:||Bachelor’s – English Literature|
|Net Worth in 2022:||$5 million|
Biography: Early Life and Family
Robert Francis O’Rourke was born in El Paso, Texas on September 26, 1972. His father, Pat, was a County Commissioner and County Judge in El Paso. The elder O’Rourke was also actively involved in politics; he assisted presidential candidate Jesse Jackson as a state chairman of Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 campaigns. Jackson even hosted a press conference in the O’Rourke home in 1984. He was also connected to former Texas governor Mark White.
O’Rourke is chiefly known by his nickname. While some of his Republican opponents say that O’Rourke came to have the nickname “Beto” because he was attempting to garner Hispanic constituents, O’Rourke claims his family gave him the moniker when he was a baby to distinguish his name from his grandfather, for whom he was named. “Beto” is a “common Spanish-Portuguese nickname for first names ending in -berto” (such as Roberto. Senator Ted Cruz is said to be the first to have questioned the origins of O’Rourke’s nickname, which he uses professionally. Karl Rove has also taken to calling O’Rourke exclusively “Robert Francis” to remind voters of his Irish American ancestry (NOTE: O’Rourke is of Irish origin, and O’Rourke has publicly said he is a fourth-generation Irish American.)
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has also resurrected the nickname controversy in recent campaign speeches.
O’Rourke is lesser known for his involvement in music. As a middle school student, O’Rourke says he became a fan of punk rock music band The Clash. He has referred to their popular album London Calling as a “revolution.” However, the only song from the album that had any public following is the album’s title song “London Calling.”
At the age of fourteen, O’Rourke began attending punk rock music shows and concerts. O’Rourke, however, was a bit of an outcast in the more “no risk, no energy” scene of El Paso. O’Rourke found a kinship in the small El Paso punk scene. O’Rourke has said that he “felt alienated” outside of this scene.
O’Rourke has admitted being a member of an El Paso-area computer hacking group known as Cult of the Dead Cow. The group was rumored to have provided “tools” that allowed individuals not necessarily computer-savvy to hack into computers than ran on the Windows operating system. O’Rourke has even said that he “stole long-distance phone service” as a teenager so that he could use a dial-up modem to participate in hacking activities.
O’Rourke’s nickname as a part of the Cult of the Dead Cow was “Psychedelic Warlord.” Under this moniker, O’Rourke is said to have written some poems and other missives “which included sexual and violent themes.” O’Rourke as an adult has “expressed regret” over some of this content.
O’Rourke attended a Montessori school as an elementary school student. He would attend El Paso High School for a short time before transferring to a boarding school in Virginia. After graduation, O’Rourke would attend Columbia University, where he was a member of the rowing team. O’Rourke has a degree in English Literature from Columbia.
Beto is married to Amy Hoovers Sanders; the pair said their vows on September 24, 2005 at her father’s ranch in New Mexico. Together, the O’Rourkes have three children: Ulysses, Henry, and Molly.
The O’Rourkes live in El Paso in a home where Pancho Villa is set to have met with American General Hugh Scott in 1915.
O’Rourke has been open about some legal issues he has had over the years. In 1995, O’Rourke and some friends jumped a fence at the University of Texas campus at El Paso. They were at the physical plant of the campus when they were arrested for burglary. O’Rourke spent the night in jail and bond was posted for his release the next day. It is unclear why he was charged with burglary and not trespassing, but the University of Texas (El Paso) would eventually decline to further pursue a criminal case against O’Rourke.
In 1998, O’Rourke was arrested once more; this time his charge was Driving While Intoxicated (DWI). O’Rourke allegedly caused an accident at around 3 AM that morning, and he attempted to flee afterwards. The charges were eventually dropped after O’Rourke completed a court-ordered driving impaired program. O’Rourke has had these issues brought to light during political campaigns. O’Rourke maintains that he has been “open and . . .owned up to it. . . have taken responsibility for it.”
During college, O’Rourke’s love of music prompted him to begin playing live music in two different bands. O’Rourke joined a band called Swipe while at Columbia. The band played New York City bars and clubs; Swipe opened for the Washington-state based Fitz of Depression on one occasion. Later, O’Rourke and two friends at Columbia (the trio were all from El Paso) formed the band Foss. The group toured across North America and would eventually release a demo called “The El Paso Pussycats.”
O’Rourke would also briefly play drums for a group called Swedes, and he played in two other music groups during his college days. O’Rourke would continue to write songs and short stories well into the 1990s.
Age, Height, and Weight
Beto O’Rourke is 49 years of age. He is 6′ 4″ in height, and he weighs approximately 194 lbs.
As of 2022, Beto O’Rourke’s net worth is estimated to be $5 million. In 2015, O’Rourke’s name was said to be listed with some of the wealthiest in Congress.
Sources hold that Beto O’Rourke’s net worth is chiefly due to his real estate investments as well as his wife’s wealth. Amy O’Rourke is the daughter of a billionaire, and she inherited a great deal of money as a result.
Beto O’Rourke was slated to become an adjunct professor at the University of Texas after the 2020 election; however, he was never hired to the position. The job would have only paid about $8,000 for the spring 2021 semester.
Career Outside of Politics
O’Rourke cites his time in music as part of his career; he says that some of the decisions he has made politically come from the “DIY ethos” of the punk music scene.
When O’Rourke graduated from Columbia, he initially worked as a “live-in caretaker and art mover.” He would eventually find employment with his uncle’s company, an internet service provider. O’Rourke’s degree came in handy when he took a job as a proofreader for the H.W. Wilson Company.
Upon returning to El Paso in 1998, O’Rourke would work in inventory at his mother’s furniture store. By 2000, however, O’Rourke had established the Stanton Street Technology Group with a partner. The group was an internet service provider and a software company. O’Rourke would welcome his wife aboard when the pair married in 2005, and Amy O’Rourke ran the Stanton Street Tech Group until 2017.
O’Rourke continued to write during this time, chiefly for an online newspaper also called Stanton Street. His articles chiefly covered arts and entertainment news as well as some opinion articles.
Career in Politics
O’Rourke has credited two sources with his interest in politics. One was a phenomenon O’Rourke referred to as “brain drain” – younger people with degrees and talent leaving El Paso for perceived better employment opportunities. However, O’Rourke’s father Pat often took Beto on the campaign trail with him. Yet. Beto says Pat’s campaigning was not his impetus for joining politics himself.
When Pat was campaigning for his own civic service positions, Beto often tagged along to events. O’Rourke says that he was incredibly shy whereas his father was very charismatic. Beto says that while these experiences have benefited him once he decided to become a politician, O’Rourke says his writing chiefly influenced his decision to run for civic positions.
O’Rourke would successfully run for a position on the El Paso City Council in 2005. He remained serving in this capacity until 2012. That year, O’Rourke would decide to run for the United States House of Representatives in Texas’ 16th Congressional District. O’Rourke was able to win just over fifty percent of the Democratic vote in the primary for the seat, and he would eventually win the election in what is considered a Democratic safe zone in a heavily Hispanic district.
During the campaign, O’Rourke offered support for the legalization of drugs as well as LGBT rights. O’Rourke would eventually champion legislation that would be used to report civil rights violations of immigrants at the hands of the U.S Border Patrol. O’Rourke also had a hand in crafting an appropriations bill which would provide for sufficient staff at ports near the border “to lower wait times at the border.”
O’Rourke would win re-election for this seat again in 2014 and 2016.
It was O’Rourke’s campaign against Texas Republican Ted Cruz for a seat in the United States Senate. Even national Democrats had their doubts about O’Rourke; they held that Texas has always been considered a “red” state. O’Rourke became known for his social media use, and he did campaign in each of Texas’ 254 counties. He drew large crowds for a fairly unknown politician; some of the draw was the result of some outlandish things O’Rourke would say. He claimed to be a “punk rock Democrat,” and he would often post videos to social media of himself riding a skateboard or washing close in a laundromat.
O’Rourke is also known for using small donations to build his campaign coffers rather than accepting campaign donations from political action committees.
Although O’Rourke gained a great deal of support and raised more campaign money than Ted Cruz, he wasn’t able to secure the Senate seat in 2018.
O’Rourke set his sights on the presidency in 2020. Political pundits described him as “a young, fresh face with a sprinkling of woke.” It is during this time that O’Rourke was asked his opinions on gun control, specifically confiscating certain weapons. O’Rourke answered, “H*ll yeah, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.” Now that O’Rourke is in the Texas gubernatorial race, some pundits speculate this could hurt his chances for a successful campaign.
O’Rourke does have a definitive and devoted following. One woman attending a speaking event prior to the Texas gubernatorial primaries told a reporter from The New Yorker that she had no interest in politics, “just him.” Some like the fact that O’Rourke is fluent in both Spanish and English, and, whether anyone believes he chose his nickname to garner Hispanic support or not, he was able to win an election in a heavily Hispanic district.
O’Rourke and Abbott will face off for the governor’s race in November 2022.