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Beto O'Rourke is an American politician and businessman currently representing Texas' 16th congressional district in the House of Representatives. He gained national attention challenging Republican incumbent Ted Cruz for his seat in the United States Senate.
Beto O'Rourke was born September 26th, 1972 in El Paso, Texas. His full name is Robert Francis O'Rourke and was called Beto by his family. As a teenager, he played in the punk rock band Foss, which notably featured Cedric Bixler-Zavala, eventual lead singer of At the Drive-In and The Mars Volta, on drums. After living in New York City out of college, O'Rourke returned to Texas in 1998. After a successful business career, he ran for city council in 2005, where he won and served until 2011. In 2012, he defeated congressman Silvestre Reyes in Texas' deeply-Democratic 16th district, and he became a member of the United States House of Representatives, where he currently still serves.
O'Rourke is a member of the New Democrat Coalition, which is described as moderate or centrist, but is also considered to have progressive and liberal views. He is considered by GovTrack to be in the center of House Democrats, left of some and right of others. He supports efforts to combat global warming, stronger antitrust laws, decriminalization of cannabis, single-payer healthcare, marriage equality, and pro-choice stances. He supported the Take a Knee protests and has spoken out against racial inequality.
Senate Race Against Ted Cruz
O'Rourke ran for Senator of Texas against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz and lost. He was considered a long-shot candidate, as Texas has not has a Democratic senator since 1994. He has not received PAC money and instead has funded his candidacy through small donations. He significantly out-raised Ted Cruz in the race . O'Rourke polled closer than expected, but was still behind Cruz in most polls come election day. It is speculated that with the national attention to his campaign, O'Rourke could be a could candidate for President in the 2020 election, and O'Rourke has drawn comparisons to Barack Obama.
During O'Rourke's concession speech, he surprised cable news outlets by telling his supporters and staff "I'm so fucking proud of you guys."
The moment was celebrated by Twitter users who saw it as a moment of attractive authenticity. Twitter user @Celina_Curry tweeted of the moment, saying "We're married now" (shown below, left). User @theradmexican tweeted a crying woman as a response to the moment (shown below, right).
2020 Presidential Campaign
On March 14th, 2019, Beto O'Rourke announced that he was running for President in the 2020 election via a video posted to his Twitter account (shown below).
I am running to serve you as the next president. The challenges we face are the greatest in living memory. No one person can meet them on their own. Only this country can do that, and only if we build a movement that includes all of us. Say you're in: https://t.co/EKLdkVET2u pic.twitter.com/lainXyvG2n— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) March 14, 2019
This coincided with a Vanity Fair cover profile which detailed O'Rourke's plans to run as well as his family life. O'Rourke has been described as a candidate with positions akin to Barack Obama, which CNBC described as putting him in the "middle" of the crowded field. Donald Trump mocked Beto by making fun of his hand gesticulations, pondering "maybe he's crazy."
Online, the news was met with criticism from progressives who were unenthusiastic about O'Rourke's positions and candidacy. Paste called O'Rourke the "Candidate For Vapid Morons," comparing his charm to Obama's charismatic 2008 run and Obama's subsequent centrist presidency. Slate wrote that O'Rourke lacked a single reason to run for President, though he already had much of the star-power needed to mount a serious challenge. On Twitter, user @AdamJohnson tweeted that Beto's candidacy seemed more well-suited to America in 2003, but years of "vapid centrism" had (eaten) away (the democratic base's) pensions and wages and gave us two decades of perma-war" (shown below, left). Twitter user Luke Savage joked "The Beto O'Rourke presidential campaign is fanfiction for people who wear lanyards to sleep and think the West Wing was a documentary" (shown below, right).
On the positive side, O'Rourke received an endorsement from Maryland governor Martin O'Malley and congressional candidate Stephanie Murphy. On March 18th, the O'Rourke campaign announced that they had raised $6.1 million on the first day of his campaign, the most raised by a Democratic candidate thus far, topping Bernie Sanders' $5.9 million.
O'Rourke has 660,000 likes on Facebook and 700,000 Twitter followers. The Onion posted a parody article saying Ted Cruz released an attack ad calling Beto "Too Good for Texas" (shown below). The San Antonio Current posted a slideshow of O'Rourke memes making the politician appear dreamy.
After O'Rourke's loss to Cruz, many people on Twitter began speculating about O'Rourke running for president in 2020, sharing their thoughts with the hashtag #Beto2020. The hashtag was covered by The Hill, who pointed to celebrities who tweeted the hashtag including Olivia Wilde and Alyssa Milano.
On November 4th, actor Jake Gyllenhaal posted a photograph on Facebook  of himself in a Beto O'Rourke for Senate t-shirt with a caption that encouraged people to vote Democratic candidates. The post received more than 20,000 reactions, 1,200 comments and 5,900 shares in two days (shown below).
Conservative fans of Gyllenhaal reacted negatively to the post, creating an outrage against his political beliefs. Much of this backlash began when the rightwing media company The Blaze tweeted the photograph with the caption "You don't live in Texas, Jake" (shown below, left). Following the post, other retweeted the The Blaze and added their own commentary on why they no longer cared for Gyllenhaal (examples below, center and right).
When playing a road game against the San Antonio Spurs, LeBron James arrived to the arena wearing a hat endorsing O'Rourke. This was covered by national publications who noted it was not the first time LeBron had praised O'Rourke, having previously supported his stance on #TakeAKnee.
James later clarified on election night that he likes what Beto stands for (shown below).
LeBron on what he’s learned about the importance of voting. At the end I asked if there were races besides Texas senate he was keeping an eye on. He said yes, didn’t want to talk about what they were and then complimented @BetoORourke. pic.twitter.com/AZ5VXVmFSj
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) November 6, 2018
View this post on Instagram
I’m feeling grateful for everyone before me who fought so hard to give us all the right to have a voice. We can’t voice our frustrations and complain about what’s wrong without voting and exercising our power to make it right. We need you. We all need each other, because when we are truly united we are unstoppable. Sending you all love and positivity on this happy voting day! Every vote counts Every race matters Everywhere.
Many felt the timing of the endorsement was too late to make an impact on the election. Political analyst David Corn said that the time to make such a post was any time before the day of the election (shown below, left). Twitter user @KimberlyNFoster joked that it was the first Beyoncé surprise-drop that was poorly timed (shown below, right).
Some Twitter users went so far as to blame Beyoncé for O'Rourke's loss. One particular tweet, since-deleted, driving the narrative was by @Cameron_Kasky (shown below).
This helped create the impression of a wave of people literally blaming Beyoncé for O'Rourke's loss, and many more tweets pushing back against the idea appeared than people sincerely tweeting it. Responding to Kasky's tweet, user @pettyblackgirl gained over 620 retweets and 2,800 likes (shown below, left). User @spxncxrx also responded to Kasky's tweet, gaining over 60 retweets and 240 likes (shown below, right).
Dentist Instagram Story
On January 10th, 2019, O'Rourke posted a story to his Instagram in which he visited his dentist and live from the chair interviewed her about her experience growing up near the border of Mexico. The story was part of an ongoing series in which O'Rourke speaks to people who grew up near the border to discuss their experiences amidst the ongoing government shut-down President Trump enforced until he receives monetary approval for a Wall across the American-Mexican border.
Twitter users had a wide variety of reactions to the spread of the story. User @menks101 posted an Office expressing their disgust (shown below, left). User @jaredholt posted an #UpgradeChallenge meme comparing the social media skills of O'Rourke to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, gaining over 300 retweets and 1,900 likes (shown below, right).
"Maybe Beto Can't Debate Ted Cruz Because"
Maybe Beto Can't Debate Ted Cruz Because refers to parodies made of a tweet by the Texas GOP Twitter account which suggested that Senator Ted Cruz' Democratic challenger Beto O'Rourke could not debate the senator because he had a gig with his old band, attaching a promotional photo of the politician from when he played with the group.
After the tweet was posted, it was mocked by many Twitter users for inadvertently making O'Rourke look cool. User @Neighbormania sarcastically tweeted "Definitely don't want to vote for this cool guy who did fun stuff and had friends," gaining over 380 retweets and 10,000 likes (shown below, left). User iCyclone said that he was glad to see an elected official who's "lived life" as opposed to "walking corpses in suits" (shown below, right).
Ted Cruz Looking at Beto O'Rourke
On September 25th, 2018, Cruz was photographed on an airplane looking at a picture of Beto O'Rourke on his phone. The pictures were tweeted by user @KFILE that morning (shown below).
Twitter users joked that Cruz was jealous of O'Rourke in the picture, adding captions sarcastically calling Cruz relatable and making various other jokes. For example, journalist Elizabeth Bruenig paired the photos with "Hello Darkness My Old Friend", gaining over 55 retweets and 650 likes (shown below, left). User @socarolinesays called Cruz relatable in the images, gaining over 170 likes. Jokes about the pictures were covered by The Daily Dot.
Cult of the Dead Cow
On March 15th, 2019, Reuters reported that Beto O'Rourke was a member of the hacking group Cult of the Dead Cow as a teenager, participating in a CDC BBS board named "Taco Land" using the handle "Psychedelic Warlord" (shown below). According to the report, O'Rourke admitted to stealing long-distance phone call services, a technique referred to as "phreaking."
EXCLUSIVE:— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) March 15, 2019
BetoORourke</a> was an early member of a hacking group that later become notorious for releasing tools for ordinary people to hack computers running Microsoft’s Windows <a href="https://t.co/9RsOHmHW7n">https://t.co/9RsOHmHW7n</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/josephmenn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">josephmenn pic.twitter.com/Tuo6LubGLC
That day, a poem posted by the Psychedelic Warlord account titled "The Song of the Cow" began circulating online, which contained the widely mocked lyrics "Wax my ass, scrub my balls" (shown below). Fiction he wrote as a teenager from a killer's point of view also spread that day.
The same day, O'Rourke apologized on Political Party LIVE! for his writings, saying, "Whatever my intention was as a teenager doesn’t matter… I have to look long and hard at my actions, at the language I have used, and I have to constantly try to do better." He also apologized for saying "my wife raises our kids, sometimes with my help" on the campaign trail, saying, "Not only will I not say that again, but I’ll be more thoughtful going forward in the way that I talk about our marriage, and also the way in which I acknowledge the truth of the criticism that I have enjoyed white privilege."
GOP Irish Tweet
On March 17th, 2019, St. Patrick's Day, the official GOP Twitter account tweeted an image of O'Rourke's mugshot from his 1998 drunk-driving arrest with a green leprechaun hat photoshopped onto it, writing, "On this St. Paddy's Day, a special message from noted Irishman Robert Francis O'Rourke" (shown below).
The tweet was criticized as perpetuating harmful stereotypes against the Irish. Republican politicians including Justin Amash and Jeff Flake both criticized the tweet (shown below). Criticisms of the tweet were covered by AOL.
On April 11, 2019, Comedian Alex Ptak posted a video of himself as a "demon" version of Beto O'Rouke to Twitter (shown below). The video gained 893 retweets and 4,697 likes in four days.
Folks… it's Demon Beto pic.twitter.com/zgtcLkNtFN— Alex “Big Cash” Ptak (@PtakJokes) April 11, 2019
 San Antonio Current – The Most Hilarious Memes About Beto O'Rourke That Are Totally Accurate
fn 20. INDY100-Beto O'Rouke Meme