Everything You Need To Know About Beto O'Rourke, The Guy Gunning For Ted Cruz's Senate Seat

With midterms just around the corner, things are already getting heated on the political landscape. You may recognize the name Beto O’Rourke from the recent viral video of him defending the NFL players’ kneeling protests at football games. The NFL protests began two years ago when quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, caught the public’s attention by staying seated during the national anthem.

Since then, the practice of kneeling during the the National Anthem has become a common occurrence at football games, a form of peaceful protest against “racial inequality, discrimination and social injustice.” While Trump has been quick to condemn players for their actions, even saying that they should be kicked out of the country, Beto O’Rourke says that he “can think of nothing more American.” In the video that was posted to the NowThis site, the Senate candidate compares the NFL protests to those during the civil rights movement.

“Peaceful, nonviolent protests, including taking a knee at a football game to point out that black men, unarmed, black teenagers, unarmed, and black children, unarmed, are being killed at a frightening level right now, including by members of law enforcement, without accountability, and without justice,” O’Rourke said. "And this problem — as grave as it is — is not going to fix itself, and they’re frustrated, frankly, with people like me and those in positions of public trust and power, who have been unable to resolve this or bring justice for what has been done and to stop it from continuing to happen in this country." The Texas senate candidate, who NBCNews describes as “a credible challenge to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz”, has now gained attention nationwide. Could Beto O’Rourke be the candidate that everyone has been waiting for to finally turn Texas ‘blue’?

Beto O’Rourke, born Robert Francis O’Rourke, has actually served in congress since 2012 as a representative from El Paso, Texas, but only really gained attention this year when he decided to step up against Republican sen. Ted Cruz. According to a poll by NBC News/Marist, O’Rourke does represent a credible threat to Cruz. With 45% support among voters, the candidate is trailing Cruz by a mere 4%, a promising statistic considering that the last Democratic politician was Lieutenant Governor, Bob Bullock, in 1994.

A Columbia University graduate and avid Whataburger enthusiast, O’Rourke also gained the internet’s attention when his bipartisan roadtrip with Republican Will Hurd. The Congressmen, whose flights from Texas to Washington D.C. were cancelled due to snow, had to be back in the Capitol to cast their votes on the floor in D.C. so decided to rent a car and drive from Texas to Washington D.C. The whole trip was broadcast on Facebook Live.

When it comes to political stances, O’Rourke would certainly be a promising candidate in Congress. O’Rourke stands behind the idea that “[w]e should all have a chance to succeed,” as his website says. “That means jobs for Texans who are ready to work and the education and training to be competitive for them.It means that every one of us is able to get healthy and stay healthy. It means we have access to the providers, medications and help that keep us on our feet and moving forward.It means that immigrants are seen as a critical source of strength and security in our communities – that beyond stopping walls and raids, we take the lead in writing immigration policy that matches our values and interests.It means that we are all treated with dignity and respect, meeting the small, petty and divisive politics of this age with a confidence, courage and strength that could only come from Texas.”

Although one can find a detailed description of his opinions on issues on his website, some things to be noted are that O’Rourke wants to establish a universal healthcare system similar to what has been suggested by Bernie Sanders and takes a strong stance for stricter gun legislation, including a ban on assault weapons. He is supportive of abortion rights and wants to preserve DACA. He is also against the prohibition of marijuana.

As described by the Texas Tribune, O’Rourke is using a similar strategy to that of Obama in 2007 where he “campaign[s] hard in conservative areas with an aim to lose less badly there and make up the difference in urban areas.” He is also showing strength in fundraising, coming closer to “rapidly narrowing the gap” between him and Cruz, although Cruz will probably still be receiving millions from PACs and the like. It looks like we’ll continue to keep a close eye on O’Rourke as he continues his rigorous campaign trail through all 254 counties of Texas.