Beto O’Rourke goes with his wife, Amy Hoover Sanders, and his three children, Ulysses, Henry and Molly in El Paso on 6 November 2018. Photograph: Paul Ratje/ AFP/ Getty Images
His involvement became problematic for two main reasons. The first was his family ties to the mastermind behind the hope, multi-millionaire real estate magnate William Sanders. Months after O’Rourke joined the council, he married Amy Sanders and William Sanders became his father-in-law.
The downtown project was a private-public partnership. The private area involved a civic organization called the Paso del Norte Group, PDNG, which Sanders set up with some of his super-wealthy friends from El Paso.
Controversy erupted when it emerged that O’Rourke was also a member. Did his position, with one hoof in the private PDNG side of the slew and another on the public council side, amount to a conflict of interest? He was slapped with an moralities complaint, later dismissed.
O’Rourke initially voted in the council to go ahead with the change contrive, but as neighbourhood resistance ripened he recused himself from various key elections. Further cries of foul play descended on him in 2012, when O’Rourke made an insurgent’s bid to unseat the incumbent Congressman for El Paso, Silvestre Reyes.
A company owned by Sanders lent $40,000 to a Republican-backedSuper Pac that invested in attack ads against Reyes, contributing to O’Rourke’s underdog victory and devoting him a leg-up to Washington.
In a recent interview with the American Prospect, O’Rourke repudiated any conflict relating to his father-in-law. Sanders” became it the standard rules that he religiously followed, never to talk politics”, he said.
But the Sanders connection still irritates with activists opposed to the downtown scheme such as David Romo, a guiding is part of the central protest radical Paso del Sur. He said that O’Rourke’s connections to Sanders takes the glisten off his current claim that as a presidential candidate he eschews big bucks and is running a ” people’s safarus “.
Romo told the Guardian that in his view O’Rourke’s role in the redevelopment throws doubts concerning his 2020 candidacy.” What happened in El Paso is said that the solution to our national troubles does not come from a multi-millionaire funded by billionaires who does their bid .”
Romo is a celebrated historian of El Paso’s revolutionary past and as such is an articulate exponent of the second criticism leveled at O’Rourke over the redevelopment scheme- that he backed with gentrification despite the damage it would impose on poverty-stricken Latino residents and historic El Paso.” He was the jolly face of ugly gentrification .”
O’Rourke denies that he backed with gentrifiers, contending his intention was to breathe new life into the dilapidated nerve of a major municipality. He did tell the American Prospect, though, that in hindsight he accepts that he did” a really poor profession of listening to that disapproval “.
‘He genuinely does need to answer questions’
Similar controversy followed O’Rourke to Washington. Whether it originated from his innate pragmatism as a politician who tends to decide each question as it comes rather than following dogma, or whether it was because of his springs in Texas, a state that has been dominated by Republicans for the past 20 times, his voting record in Congress was striking for the current lack of defendant purity.
Although El Paso shifts overwhelmingly Democratic, a fivethirtyeight.com tracker indicates that he voted 30% of the time in line with Trump. Compare that to his presidential challengers: Kamala Harris( 17% ), Bernie Sanders( 14%) or Elizabeth Warren( 13% ).
That didn’t matter much in his senatorial hasten last November. But then he was running against Ted Cruz, one of the most toxic rightwing senators who even fellow Republicans call ” Lucifer in the flesh “.
In that race he proved himself to have several of the qualities that might appeal to Democratic voters looking for a presidential campaigner capable of beating Trump, first and foremost his ability to turn out the vote. He evidenced himself adept in charm to young people, African Americans, Latinos and suburban white-hot females- electoral groups all likely to play a crucial role in 2020 for the purpose of determining Trump’s fate.
But the road to the presidential nomination is proving to be a stonier path for O’Rourke than his street last year. By taking his expedition national he has moved on to much more fertile ground for a Democrat than the traditionally arid grime of Texas, yet it has come at the price of sharply intensified scrutiny.
Which delivers O’Rourke back to his climate change announcement amid the grandeur of Yosemite Falls. Fossil fuel activists may only be pleasantly surprised by O’Rourke’s robust plan, but that doesn’t mean they have forgotten that his relationship with the oil industry has been complicated.
He hesitated for weeks before agreeing to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge in which candidates forego all donations above $200 from Pacs, lobbyists and executives of fossil fuel companionships. The donate was particularly sensitive for O’Rourke, who according to Open Secret countenanced more contributions from oil and gas in 2018 than any congressional nominee other than Ted Cruz.
He has said his hesitancy was out of concern for ordinary employees in the industry who should be allowed to participate. The organizers of the pledge nonetheless stressed that exclusively the donations of top leaders were excluded.
In the end, he did sign the pledge, two days after his Yosemite declaration.
Another sticking point is that O’Rourke voted twice in Congress to filch a 40 -year ban on US exports of crude oil. He tried to justify the vote in October 2015, two months ago the Paris Agreement on combating climate change was adopted by 195 people, by arguing that US crude was cleaner than that of other countries and” the oil that affords the current dominant mode of transportation will have to come from somewhere “.
The lifting of the ban has led to a massive spike in US crude exports, from well under 1m barrels per day to more than 3m per era currently.” There’s been a dangerous and problematic increase in the extraction of crude oil driven by exports in the US. He really does need to answer questions about that poll ,” David Turnbull of Oil Change US said.
It all points to the steep uphill climb that Beto O’Rourke faces if he is to claw his behavior back into the Democratic spotlight. The Yosemite announcement made a solid start, innovating American voters to a more serious, focused politician than they had previously been shown.
Now the real scramble begins.