Texas GOP Tried to Shame Democrat Rep. Beto O'Rourke with Old Photos — But It Backfired

Normally, digging into a politician's past can ruin their career, but for Texas' Beto O'Rourke, it skyrocketed him to national attention for being totally cool and attractive

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Normally, digging into a politician’s past can ruin their career, but for Rep. Beto O’Rourke, it skyrocketed him to national attention for being totally cool.

O’Rourke, 45, a Democrat, is running for Republican Ted Cruz‘s Senate seat, and in an effort to discredit him, the Texas GOP tweeted out multiple throwback photos of the El Paso native on Tuesday. In the first, a younger O’Rourke holds a skateboard. The next is a group shot of O’Rourke’s former punk rock band, Foss, and the last is his mugshot.

The Texas GOP sent the images into the Twittersphere as retaliation for O’Rourke refusing to debate Cruz this Friday, as shown in the captions. “Sorry, can’t debate. We have a gig,” one reads. Another states, “Sorry, I’m going to have to skate on the debate on Friday. I just got the killer board. I’m sure the voters won’t mind.”

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According to Vox.com, O’Rourke was arrested twice in his 20s — once for jumping a fence at University of Texas’s El Paso campus and a misdemeanor drunk driving arrest — but never convicted.

The House rep for Texas’ 16th congressional district addressed his conflicts with law enforcement in 2017, telling a local paper, “Both incidents were due to poor judgment and I have no excuse for my behavior then. However, since then, I have used my opportunities to serve my community and my state. I’m grateful for the second chance and believe that we all deserve second chances.”

Soon after, Twitter users started questioning the GOP’s logic when sharing the images — because what’s really that shameful about being in a rock band?

“This makes me like him more,” one person wrote. “We need elected officials who’ve lived life, who aren’t walking corpses in suits.”

Another even replied with footage of O’Rourke playing the guitar in 1994.

The incumbent’s ability to make friends and preferred social activities were also called into question.

Meanwhile, O’Rourke’s mugshot had people doing a double-take.

At this stage in his campaign, O’Rourke is no stranger to going viral.

Last week, a speech he gave at a town hall advocating in favor of 2017’s NFL protests garnered more than 200,000 retweets on NowThis’s page.

“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 to applause from the audience.

“And this problem — as grave as it is — is not going to fix itself,” he continued. “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,” he continued.

O’Rourke added, “And so nonviolently, peacefully, while the eyes of this country are watching these games, they take a knee to bring our attention and our focus to this problem to ensure that we fix it,” he concluded. “That is why they are doing it. And I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights, anytime, anywhere, in any place.”

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