O’Rourke, 44, was first elected to Congress in 2012. The former punk rocker made national headlines earlier this month for going on a bipartisan road trip across the country with Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) after an East Coast storm grounded all flights to Washington. The two lawmakers streamed their impromptu drive from Texas on Facebook Live, jamming to music and fielding public policy questions from viewers.
In Congress, O’Rourke worked on legislation aimed at improving foster care assistance to undocumented youth. He also participated in last year’s sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives, which several Democrats mounted in an attempt to get a vote on gun control legislation.
Cruz has drawn potential challengers from both sides of the aisle. Rep. Joaquin Castro (Texas), a rising star in the Democratic Party, is “heavily weighing” a run, according to a spokesman. On the Republican side, Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is weighing taking on the conservative firebrand. GOP political strategist Matthew Dowd is also considering launching an independent bid against Cruz.
Cruz’s seat is considered a long-shot bid for Democrats in a deeply conservative state like Texas. An able campaigner, the Texas senator boosted his national prominence last year after finishing second in the crowded 2016 GOP presidential primary. In February, the senator reported $4.2 million in cash on hand for his re-election campaign.