WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Texas governor candidate Beto O’Rourke was given his nickname a long time ago.
Named Robert Francis O’Rourke for his grandfather, the politician’s parents decided when he was a child that he needed to have a nickname to avoid confusion.
Beto is a longstanding nickname for Hispanic names such as Alberto and Roberto and would have been common in El Paso where Beto grew up.
In March 2018, O’Rourke even posted a photo of him as a child wearing a sweatshirt that says “Beto” in response to growing criticism that he was using the nickname to pander to Hispanic voters.
“I was born Robert Francis O’Rourke after my grandfather, also named Robert, and my mom, beginning on day one, called me ‘Beto’ to distinguish me from my grandfather,” O’Rourke said during a campaign stop in Wichita Falls. “The name stuck, and I have been called that every day of my life.”
O’Rourke isn’t the only politician with a nickname, either.
A family member of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott calls him “Tio Greg.” Texans for Greg Abbott released a video in October, featuring Abbott’s niece Clarissa.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz adopted the name ‘Ted’ during his time in junior high school, according to his autobiography, “A Time for Truth”. Cruz’s birthname is Rafael Edward Cruz. He said, at the time, he was already called Felito, but he grew tired of being teased because the nickname rhymed with chips like Fritos and Doritos.
He said his mom pointed out that he could always just change his name, and one of the names she listed was ‘Ted’. From that point on, Cruz has gone by Ted both personally and professionally.