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Beto O’Rourke Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

Here’s a look at the life of former US Representative Beto O’Rourke, a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.


Birth date: September 26, 1972

Birth place: El Paso, Texas

Birth name: Robert Francis O’Rourke

Father: Patrick O’Rourke, former county commissioner and El Paso county judge

Mother: Melissa O’Rourke, furniture store owner

Marriage: Amy (Hoover Sanders) O’Rourke (September 24, 2005-present)

Children: Henry, Molly and Ulysses

Education: Columbia University, B.A., 1995

Religion: Roman Catholic

Other Facts

The nickname Beto, a shortened version of Roberto, was given to O’Rourke by his parents.

Speaks Spanish fluently.

He named his son, Ulysses, after the Greek hero in Homer’s Odyssey.

O’Rourke was a member of two punk rock bands. He played guitar for the band known as Foss, which released an EP called “The El Paso Pussycats.” He also played with a band called the Sheeps, who wore sheep masks and long johns during performances.


May 1995 – O’Rourke is charged with a misdemeanor for burglary. He later says of the incident that he “jumped a fence at the University of Texas at El Paso which resulted in a burglary charge.” The charge is later dropped.

September 1998 – O’Rourke is arrested for drunk driving and charged with DWI. He completes a diversion program and the charges are dismissed. He later refers to the incident as a “terrible mistake.”

1999 At age 26, O’Rourke co-founds Stanton Street Technology Group, an El Paso-based web design company.

2005 – He is elected as an El Paso city councilman, defeating the incumbent.

2013-2019 – O’Rourke wins a seat in the US House of Representatives and serves Texas’s 16th District for three terms.

March 22, 2017 – O’Rourke acts as a primary sponsor for the “Honor Our Commitment Act,” which directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand mental health services for veterans. The measure passes as part of an omnibus spending bill on March 22, 2018.

March 31, 2017 – Announces he will run for US Senate in Texas against the incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz.

December 12, 2017 – The National Defense Authorization Act for the 2017 fiscal year passes and includes a measure written by O’Rourke, mandating that service members must undergo a mental health examination before leaving the armed forces.

October 18, 2018 – Takes questions by himself at a CNN town hall. Cruz’s campaign initially accepts but later declines CNN’s invitation to participate.

November 6, 2018 – O’Rourke loses the election for US Senate to Cruz by a 3% margin. His campaign drew national attention because O’Rourke visited every county in Texas and focused on social media. He also refused to take money from political action committees.

January 16, 2019 – Two weeks after leaving Congress, O’Rourke blogs in a travel-diary-style post on Medium about being “in and out of a funk” and hitting the road to “clear [his] head” as calls grow for him to run.

February 11, 2019 – O’Rourke joins a counter protest, dubbed the “March for Truth,” while President Donald Trump holds a campaign rally in El Paso.

March 14, 2019 – O’Rourke announces he’s running for president.

March 18, 2019 – Says that he raised $6.1 million in the first 24 hours of his presidential campaign, in what amounts to the largest first-day haul to date of any 2020 Democratic contender.

September 12, 2019 – During the third Democratic debate, O’Rourke reiterates his support for a mandatory gun-buyback program of assault-style rifles and says, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.” O’Rourke’s comments came in the wake of a string of mass shootings in the United States, including in his hometown of El Paso, where 22 people were gunned down at a Walmart in August. O’Rourke unveiled a proposal weeks after the shooting calling for a national gun registry, a nationwide gun licensing system and the mandatory buyback of assault-style rifles as part of his plan to curb gun violence and the rise of white nationalism.

November 1, 2019 – O’Rourke ends his presidential campaign.

March 2, 2020 – O’Rourke endorses former Vice President Joe Biden.

November 15, 2021 – O’Rourke announces he’s running for Texas governor.

May 25, 2022 – O’Rourke confronts Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott and other officials during a press conference about the shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, where 21 people — including 19 children — died. “The time to stop the next shooting is right now and you are doing nothing,” O’Rourke tells Abbott.

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