Beto O’Rourke is running for Governor of Texas.
Born in 1972, O’Rourke served as a U.S. Representative for the 16th District of Texas from 2013 to 2019. While he easily won re-election twice, he declined to run a third time. Instead, he ran for the Senate in 2018 and for president in 2020.
Now O’Rourke is running against incumbent Greg Abbott for governor, hoping to overturn the long-standing trends that favor Republicans in the state. There are reasons he may be optimistic. While he lost his Senate run to Ted Cruz, it was by less than 3%.
What may hamper O’Rourke’s campaign is the reputation for waffling on his political stances, according to The Texan.
O’Rourke does have some consistent positions. One, the legalization of marijuana, could be a topic that would get consensus with many Republicans.
Other areas of consistency include his ideas on raising pay for educators, expanding Medicaid, and his critique of the management of the Texas power grid.
O’Rourke’s most notable ‘flip-flop’ was when he changed his position on firearms, a particular minefield for any candidate running in the Lone Star State.
During a presidential debate in 2020, he came out against Armalite rifles (ARs) and became an outspoken advocate of gun control. After a gunman targeted Latinos and killed twenty-three people in a Walmart in El Paso, O’Rourke said, if elected, he would confiscate ARs.
However, back in 2018, during his run against Ted Cruz, while on KFYO in Lubbock, he talked about Texas’ rich tradition of gun ownership and said that those who had bought an AR should be able to keep it.
Yet, at the 2020 debate, he said, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”
O’Rourke has since walked those comments back, saying in February of this year that he is “not interested in taking anything from anyone.”
He told Yahoo News that a middle ground protects the Second Amendment while ensuring public safety.
“Just like every Texan, I understand that we can both defend the Second Amendment and do a far better job of protecting the lives of those in our communities,” O’Rourke said. “Like most Texans, I grew up with guns. I grew up with not just learning how to fire and use them but the responsibility that comes with owning them. I think that’s true for most of us in Texas. So let’s find the common ground on things like universal background checks or safe storage laws.”
“These are things that not only Democrats but Republicans support as well, gun owners and non-gun owners alike. I think that’s the way forward,” O’Rourke continued.
During his announcement as a gubernatorial candidate, O’Rourke favored a mandatory buyback program for guns, speaking out against weapons, such as the AR-15.
Over time, he has contradicted his prior positions, possibly tailoring his positions based on his audience. In the case of his gubernatorial campaign, Texans in the valley may prioritize different issues than those in Austin or the panhandle.
On March 11, when asked in Victoria about critical race theory (CRT), O’Rourke stated that he was against adding it to the curriculum in public schools.
However, according to Yahoo News, “O’Rourke sees [the anti-CRT] law as a way to duck painful truths about Texas, a former slave state.”
“We should know the full story of Texas and the full story of the United States of America,” O’Rourke told Yahoo. “Not only our founding ideals and principles but the way that those ideals and principles were often violated by the people who wrote them or the fact that so much of the wealth and opportunity in this state was actually created by people who had no choice in the deal whatsoever. … If we don’t, then we’re trafficking in myths and things that just are not true.”
His position on oil and natural gas seems to be equally inconsistent.
While in College Station on March 8, he focused on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar and spoke about the potential economic benefits.
However, just a few days later, while in Victoria, he advocated for Texas to increase its oil and gas production.
“We’re the energy capital of the world right now by and large that is thanks to oil and gas and the innovators and the entrepreneurs and the workers who have not only given us pride in place but secured our energy independence from the rest of the world,” he said.
Note: This story was updated on March 30 at 2:33 pm.