Robert Francis "Beto" O'Rourke ( BEH-toh, also BED-oh; Spanish pronunciation: ['beto]; born September 26, 1972) is an American politician who served as the U.S. representative for Texas's 16th congressional district from 2013 to 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, O'Rourke was the party's nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2018, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, and was the Democratic nominee for the 2022 Texas gubernatorial election.
O'Rourke was born into a local political family in El Paso, Texas, and is a graduate of Woodberry Forest School and Columbia University. While studying at Columbia, he began a brief music career as bass guitarist in the post-hardcore band Foss. After his college graduation, he returned to El Paso and began a business career. In 2005, he was elected to the El Paso City Council, serving until 2011; he served as mayor pro tempore during his first year in office. O'Rourke was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012 after defeating eight-term incumbent Democrat Silvestre Reyes in the primary.
After being re-elected to the House in 2014 and 2016, O'Rourke declined to seek another term in 2018. Instead, he sought the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Ted Cruz, running a competitive campaign that drew national attention. Despite losing the election to Cruz by a margin of 2.6%, O'Rourke set a record for most votes ever cast for a Democrat in a midterm election in Texas.
On March 14, 2019, O'Rourke announced his candidacy in the 2020 United States presidential election. He suspended his campaign on November 1, 2019, due to a lack of traction and financial issues. He later endorsed Joe Biden on the same day as Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg.
On March 1, 2022, O'Rourke won the Democratic nomination for the gubernatorial election. He was defeated by Republican incumbent Greg Abbott in the general election.