Democratic U.S. Congressman Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke will reportedly launch his 2018 Senate campaign tomorrow. The Irish-American Congressman represents Texas’s 16th district in west Texas, home to border town El Paso.

O’Rourke looks to be the most formidable Democratic Senate contender Texas has seen in years. At 44-years-old, O’Rourke is a former punk-rocker who ran a successful insurgent campaign in 2012, ousting a 16-year incumbent in the Democratic primary before going on to win his Congressional seat.

He’s consistently rated one of the top five sexiest members of Congress.

In Washington, O’Rourke serves on the Veteran’s Affairs Committee as well as the Armed Services Committee. He’s an outspoken advocate for veterans affairs and was awarded the 2016 Vietnam Veterans of America Medal of Honor and Legislator of the Year.

Par for the Democratic course, O’Rourke endorsed Hillary for President in 2016 and served as a superdelegate at the Democratic convention. But O’Rourke is far from the average Democrat. Having spoken at length at ending the so-called War on Drugs, O’Rourke is a vocal proponent for the legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. He’s also in favor of term limits.

The El Paso native went on a cross-country, bi-partisan 1,600-mile road trip with fellow Texas Congressman, Republican Rep. Will Hurd earlier this month after their flights were canceled. They drove a Chevy Impala for their “Congressional Cannonball Run”. It was on that trip that Beto decided to run for Senate.

Democrats seldom dump much, if any cash into Texas Senate races for obvious reasons — their money is better spent in states they have a chance of winning.

Beto may find himself in a Democratic Senate primary with U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, who plans to make his decision public next month.

O’Rourke faces an uphill battle against Senator Cruz who has the benefit of national fundraising base as well as national recognition from his failed 2016 presidential bid, not to mention the benefit of experience running state-wide and national campaigns.

Cruz’s political ventures since his ascendancy to the U.S. Senate in 2012 have rubbed many-a-Texan and former Cruz supporter the wrong way.

Snubbing Texas’ Senior Senator, John Cornyn, in his 2014 re-election campaign upset a whole swath of moderate Republicans who reluctantly supported the Tea Party insurgent in 2012. At the other end of the spectrum are the die-hard Trump fans who haven’t forgiven Cruz’s “vote your conscience” advice en lieu of a Trump endorsement at the Republican National Convention. The national fundraising power is there, but Cruz’s political capital is not what it was in 2012.

In 2012, Cruz eeked up the Republican primary polls by relentlessly running negative ads against then Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. After defeating Dewhurst in a runoff, and going on to win the general election, Cruz pivoted from opposition candidate to opposition Senator. Outside of the political bubble, Cruz is known more for what he’s against than what he’s for. Which could make for an interesting contrast against an O’Rourke seemingly willing to reach across the aisle instead of maligning it.

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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