With former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke seen as a potential threat if he wins the Democratic presidential nomination, Republican organizations and political action committees have been digging into his past for potentially problematic aspects of his life and career, The Hill reported on Tuesday.
An official at the Republican National Committee said they’ve already compiled a “hefty” book on O’Rourke as part of their extensive 2020 opposition research “and will continue to add to it.”
Examples include his voting record and a drunken driving arrest in 1998.
O’Rourke’s ties to the oil and gas industry are also among the issues being scrutinized by GOP operatives. In the 2017–2018 cycle he had the second highest amount in contributions from the industry, trailing only Republican Ted Cruz, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
O’Rourke has not announced he is running for president, but his strong performance in the Senate contest in heavily Republican Texas has catapulted him ahead of all other potential Democratic candidates except for former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Possible Democratic opponents in the primary are also studying lines of attack, with some on the left already saying he is not progressive enough for the party.
Over the last two years, O’Rourke had a voting record that was more conservative than 77 percent of his Democratic colleagues, according to VoteView.com, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was more liberal than 92 percent of the House.
But Democratic strategist Basil Smikle predicted that with Democrats looking for a candidate who can defeat President Donald Trump, many will be willing to look past O'Rourke's voting record, especially if he “can speak in unifying and aspirational tones about what his vision is for the country.”
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