A 46-year-old El Paso, Texas, native, Robert “Beto” O’Rourke entered the national political stage in 2012 after defeating the incumbent Democratic Representative Silvestre Reyes and winning a seat in Congress, campaigning on a platform that included LBGT rights and liberalization of drug laws.
As a congressman, O’Rourke supported increased accountability for the Customs and Border Protection agency, including the establishment of protocols to report deaths and use of force at the U.S.’s southern border. His Senate campaign has ignited grassroots passions among liberals who’ve long been outnumbered at the voting booth in deep-red Texas.
Prior to entering politics, O’Rourke co-founded Stanton Street Technology, a internet services and software company. He served as a city councilman in El Paso from 2005 to 2011, following in his father’s footsteps.
O’Rourke attended Columbia University in New York, where earned a B.A. in English literature and played in a punk rock band that toured the U.S. and Canada during summer breaks. He is married to Amy Hoover Sanders and father of three.
Ted Cruz (R)
Sen. Ted Cruz, 47, become involved in national politics in 1999 as a domestic policy advisor on the George W. Bush presidential campaign. He worked on Bush’s legal fight over the 2000 Florida presidential recount and served as associate deputy attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Cruz returned to Texas in 2003 to serve as solicitor general, then went into private law practice. He won his Senate seat in 2012 after defeating the GOP lieutenant governor in a primary that the Washington Post called “the biggest upset” that year. His fervent conservative views made him a polarizing figure. Cruz lost a bitterly fought race for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination to Donald Trump, but they overcame that history to campaign together at a rally last month.
Cruz received a B.A. in public policy from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and went on to earn his J.D. from Harvard Law School. He married Bush economic advisor and Goldman Sachs investment manager Heidi Nelson Cruz in 2001; the couple has two children.