By Anthony Johnson
It is easy to see why Robert “Beto” O’Rourke is an up-and-coming political talent in El Paso, Texas. politics. Born in 1972, he has already founded a successful IT company and defeated an incumbent city official to become one of the youngest city council members in El Paso history and in his latest re-election bid, he garnered 70% of the vote. Now, Mr. O’Rourke has his sights set on the United States Congress, as he is challenging another incumbent for the Democratic nomination for the 16th District of Texas. In their endorsement, the El Paso Timesstated, “Sending Beto O’Rourke to Congress is an important next step in choosing leadership that positions El Paso to be a leading international city in the 21st century.”
Beto O’Rourke has already achieved national attention as he has led a local effort to help convince the federal government to re-think the failed War on Drugs. As a city council member, O’Rourke sponsored a resolution calling for an examination of prohibition. Mr. O’Rourke is passionate about ending prohibition because he sees the toll it plays on border towns as prohibition doesn’t prevent drug use, it only enriches cartels and organized crime syndicates able to flourish financially as drug prices are kept artificially high.
On his campaign web site, Mr. O’Rourke characterizes ending the Drug War as a social justice issue, stating, “I have spoken directly and passionately about the toll the drug war takes on Juarez and on the disproportionate impact it has on communities of color in the United States. I will continue to fight for what is best for El Paso and the U.S.-Mexico border.” He has spoken passionately and eloquently about the need to end the Drug War, saying, “I will do everything in my power to end this Drug War because it is literally killing our cities.”
Fresh off the heels of an historic victory for Ellen Rosenblum for Oregon Attorney General, the drug reform community has an opportunity to make a difference in this important race as well. Exit polling from early voting shows that Beto O’Rourke is leading incumbent Congressman Silvestre Reyes 52% to 45% and has a great chance to win. The drug reform community can help seal another victory for our cause by promoting Mr. O’Rourke in the final days of this campaign. The final day of voting is May 29th.