Just a few months ago, hardly anyone outside Texas knew the Democrat Beto O’Rourke. However, within a relatively short period of time, he managed to present himself in an unobtrusive way, becoming a kind of hope for many in the party. Social media was part of the politician’s tools right from the start, and Beto managed to make his many appearances on Instagram & Co. unconventional and, above all, always carefree. In the usually reliably conservative-electing Lone Star State, he managed to pick up those younger, urban voters who felt less and less taken in by the Republicans.
Significantly, O’Rourke’s home base is El Paso, the giant city right on the Rio Grande and the Mexican border, where Latinos make up more than 80% of the population. Beto, who is actually Robert Francis O’Rourke, was born here in 1972, served on the city council for six years, and served as mayor for a year. O’Rourke’s family is of Irish origin, which is rather rare in the Texas Southwest, and it speaks for the candidate that the people behind him are still reliable. This ability to not only appeal to the voters of the increasingly important minorities, but above all to persuade them to attend the ballot boxes, has great significance in the diverse field of democratic candidates. Already at the congressional elections in 2018 this was easy to read. Texas, where there are progressive cities like Austin, Dallas, San Antonio or even El Paso, but also a lot of biblical land in between, has always been a dependable republican area, a democratic senator seemed unthinkable. And yet, Beto O’Rourke managed to marginalize arch-conservative incumbent Ted Cruz because he was carried by a wave of excitement and a mood of departure.
Although this fresh wind, seemingly symbolized by O’Rourke, has produced some comparison with Barack Obama’s career, there are many voices in the democratic camp who doubt that Beto’s relaxed, unbiased style is the right recipe is to race against Trump. After all, O’Rourke has finally lost the choice but ultimately and set political accents, succeeded in his six years in the House of Representatives only rarely. His followers do not mind that. O’Rourke collected more than $ 6 million in campaign donations in the first 24 hours after his candidacy was announced – a new record that far exceeded established rivals. For his presidential campaign, he promised to forego donations from major donors.
Beto O’Rourke’s strength is his closeness to the people and his atypical biography. He is a former member of a manageable punk band, worked as a social worker and was once arrested for drunken driving. None of this can be found in the usual biographies of people who go far in Washington, so the unconventional Texan in the Democratic establishment circles is not the first to come to mind as a candidate for the White House. From a political point of view, he is still too blank for that – and one whose social media activities, such as skateboarding in a parking lot, have attracted more attention than his political initiatives. O’Rourke described climate change as “the biggest environmental threat we’ve ever experienced”; He supports the release of marijuana, supports the protests of black athletes against injustice and police violence, and advocates stricter laws to control large companies. On the foreign policy side, he strongly criticized Saudi Arabia for human rights violations, described Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu as a “racist” and supported the Iran agreement, which had been terminated by Donald Trump. O’Rourke has repeatedly stressed that he sees enough grounds for impeachment and voting for Trump.
O’Rourke’s 4-6% approval rate for Democratic candidate popularity polls in early 2019 is, on average, the sixth best among candidates. The candidature of the young shooting star Pete Buttigieg has cost O’Rourke several percentage points in these surveys.
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