There is more to the mystical skateboarder and lackluster air drummer, though, than merely the inevitable memes. In the words of an Intercept headline Wednesday night, “Beto O’Rourke Is Running for President and it all Started With Weed.” The El Pasoan was a lonely Democratic voice in questioning the drug war a decade ago, and made that a key issue in successfully primarying the eight-term incumbent congressman hack Silvestre Reyes back in 2012.
Living as he does across the fortified border with Ciudad Juarez, and speaking pretty good Spanish, O’Rourke has also prioritized an immigration reform that includes fewer Border Patrol agents, freer trade, and (most recently) some torn-down walls. (Read his immigration-related interviews with Reason from 2013, 2015, and 2018.) His highest-profile pre-campaign public appearance this season was an El Paso immigration counter-rally last month at which he reportedly outdrew a same-day, same-city event by President Donald Trump. In a Democratic field comparatively heavy on women but light on Latinos, you can bet that O’Rourke will make immigration enforcement and reform a central issue.