Why He Matters
Beto O'Rourke was born and raised in El Paso, Texas, where he currently resides. He received a bachelor's degree in English literature from Columbia University. His mother, Melissa, worked for many years in a furniture store that she now owns, and his father, Pat, served as El Paso county commissioner and then county judge in the 1980s. Pat O'Rourke was a popular longtime Democrat before switching parties in 1996, when he unsuccessfully ran for Congress as a Republican. The younger O'Rourke is a former guitarist for Foss, an El Paso rock band that included members who now play in the Grammy Award-winning act The Mars Volta. He was arrested in the 1990s on burglary and drunken driving charges and has called his public service a way for atoning for those mistakes. O'Rourke says the burglary arrest happened after he tripped an alarm while jumping a fence at the University of Texas-El Paso in 1995 but prosecutors declined the case. He said he received deferred adjudication 15 years ago on the drunken driving arrest and was not convicted. He called the incident "a mistake." In 1999, O'Rourke founded an El Paso Internet company called Stanton Street Technology with some friends. He served on El Paso's city council from 2005 until 2011. O'Rourke and his wife, Amy, have three children.