News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Beto O'Rourke Unveils PAC With Focus On Boosting Texas Democrats In 2020

Beto O'Rourke
Bob Daemmrich
The Texas Tribune
Garrett Haake interviews presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke at The Texas Tribune Festival on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019.

Weeks after dropping out of the presidential race, Beto O'Rourke has launched a new political group to boost Texas Democrats in the 2020 election.

In an email to supporters Friday morning, O'Rourke said the group, Powered by People, will bring "together volunteers from around the state to work on the most important races in Texas." 

He named a few battles in particular: the fight for the state House majority, national Democrats' drive to flip six Texas congressional seats, the race to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and the presidential general election in Texas.

"Powered by People will organize grassroots volunteers to do the tough, necessary work that wins elections: registering Texans to vote (especially those that have just moved to Texas and those who are just turning 18), knocking on their doors, making phone calls, and connecting the dots so that we all understand that in order to make progress on the issues we care most about — like gun violence, healthcare and climate — we will have to register, volunteer and vote," O'Rourke said.

Powered by People is set up as a political action committee — notable given O'Rourke's long aversion to PACs in his campaigns. As a congressman, 2018 U.S. Senate candidate and 2020 presidential candidate, O'Rourke refused to accept PAC donations, denouncing the influence of big money in politics.

Powered by People is specifically structured as what is known as a "hybrid PAC," meaning it contains two accounts, one acting as a traditional PAC and the other as a super PAC. However, in its filing with the Federal Election Commission, Powered by People appears to impose some restrictions on itself, saying it will not take money from corporations or labor organizations and will not accept unlimited individual contributions — all benefits enjoyed by super PACs.

O'Rourke aides did not immediately respond to requests for more clarification on how the group is set up.

O'Rourke announced the group following a visit to Fort Bend County, where he returned to the campaign trail for Eliz Markowitz, the Democratic candidate in a special election runoff next month for a state House seat that the party wants to flip. Speaking with reporters Tuesday in Katy, O'Rourke said flipping the state House will be his top focus this cycle in Texas.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.

Patrick Svitek is a reporter for the Texas Tribune. He previously worked for the Houston Chronicle's Austin bureau. He graduated in 2014 from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He originally is from Fort Wayne, Indiana.