by Margaret Williams
Photograph by Aaron Pinkston
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Texas’ 16th District
The facts: Robert Francis O’Rourke, “Beto” for short. Born in 1972 in El Paso. Spends childhood through early high school years in El Paso. Transfers to Woodberry Forest School in Virginia in 1988. Attends Columbia University. Interns with U.S. Congressman Ron Coleman. Returns to live in El Paso in 1998. Tragically loses his father in 2001. Marries Amy Hoover Sanders in 2005. Also, elected to El Paso City Council in 2005. Father to three young children. Has worked as a proofreader, art mover and business owner, among other things. In 2012 runs and wins the race to represent Texas’ 16th District in Congress. Wins reelection in 2014 and 2016. Formally announces his candidacy for the United States Senate on March 31, 2017. Visits all 254 counties in Texas. November 6, 2018, loses to incumbent senator Ted Cruz by 219,427 votes.
O’Rourke isn’t an Austinite. We know that.
And we also know that you may adore the guy or, eh, not so much. Whichever side you are on is less the point. What is the point? In 2018, if you lived or spent time in Austin, O’Rourke was everywhere. His black-and-white signs were in our yards, his rallies were at our coffee – houses and city parks, his fundraisers were in our neighbors’ homes. O’Rourke was an animating force in this city, and of the 480,705 Travis County voters who cast a ballot for this Senate race, 356,971 of those went to O’Rourke. Austinite status granted, at least temporarily.