Prominent Texas Democrat Who Ran Unsuccessfully for Office Three Times Is Now a Professor

Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke has accepted an academic fellowship at the University of Chicago following three unsuccessful but attention-grabbing political campaigns, the Express-News reported.

Pritzker Fellow and Lecturing

The former El Paso congressman’s future in politics is uncertain. He will, however, continue working as a Pritzker fellow and lecturing at the institution for the time being. According to the daily, in that capacity, he will direct seminars that examine the current and potential future of American democracy while utilizing Texas as a case study.

O’Rourke’s narrowly unsuccessful 2018 bid to represent Texas in the United States propelled him into the national limelight. Senate. However, his political reputation was damaged by a poor bid for the Democratic presidential candidacy in 2020, and this year he lost a contest to defeat Republican incumbent Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Though it won’t be his first time teaching to college students, O’Rourke’s new position in Illinois will be. According to the Express-News, he formerly instructed a graduate-level course on democracy at UT Austin and a politics course at Texas State University. 

Beto O’Rourke

Beto O’Rourke rose to prominence as the Texas Democratic Party’s brightest prospect four years ago.

He began his senatorial campaign as a little-known congressman from El Paso and, on his route to a close loss to Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, captured lightning in a bottle by barnstorming throughout the state’s 254 counties.

Despite coming up short, O’Rourke contributed to a slew of down-ballot triumphs across the state and helped Democrats take up two seats in the Texas Senate and 12 seats in the Texas House while also supporting newcomer Lina Hidalgo against incumbent Republican Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.

His rapid ascension sparked a flurry of national interest that prepared his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 and gave hope to a minority party that had lost all statewide elections since 1994.

O’Rourke is in risk of being associated with Democratic emblems of political failure like Wendy Davis, the former state senator who ran for governor in 2014, and the U.S. president after withdrawing from the race before the primaries and now recording a third straight electoral defeat on Tuesday. 

The “Dream Team” of Tony Sanchez, Ron Kirk, and John Sharp, who raised millions of dollars and ran glitzy campaigns for governor, senator, and lieutenant governor, respectively, in 2002, as well as the 2020 House race. All of these politicians previously made the embarrassing pledge to assist in turning the state blue.

The election results on Tuesday are anticipated to be used by Abbott and his allies as evidence that Texans no longer support O’Rourke and that he has no further political prospects in the state. Even while some ballots were still being tabulated as of Wednesday morning, O’Rourke was down by 11 percentage points. Less than the 32 counties he won while running against Cruz, he won in 19, down from the 32.