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A Campaign Like No Other

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Beto O’Rourke

Beto O’Rourke Instagram

As the November 6, 2018 midterm elections continue to inspire speculation, debate and recounted votes, one candidate who lost — Beto O’Rourke CC’95 (D-Texas), who ran against incumbent Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for a U.S. Senate seat — exited the race as a symbol of a new approach to politics. “Beto O’Rourke … was campaigning for a different kind of politics that are optimistic, positive. He spoke to thousands of people who are upset about the divisiveness in America today,” noted Mark King, a professor of political science at Rice University.

When O’Rourke addressed thousands of loyal supporters in El Paso in his concession speech, he said, “We’re not about being against anybody. We are not going to define ourselves by who or what we are against, or what we are afraid of or scared about. We are great people.”

O’Rourke was widely acknowledged to break through barriers previously viewed as unbeatable: He contributed to record-breaking voter turnout in Texas (over eight million in 2018, a 76 percent increase from 2014), he drew young voters to the polls at five times the 2014 midterms rate and won 70 percent of their vote, he raised more than $70 million (the most in Senate race history, and all through small donations vs. any PAC money) and he traveled to all 254 of Texas’ counties.

O’Rourke famously declined to use a pollster and instead generated his following through a steady presence on social media which contributed to his success in drawing out young and new voters. His insistence on only accepting donations from people directly, via online donation tools like ActBlue, proved an alternate solution to many frustrated with the role of big money in politics.

The impressive campaign has led to cries for #Beto2020, but O’Rourke is easing back into the everyday by spending time with his family, hiking the El Paso hills and finishing out his term in Congress, which will conclude in January.