This teenager from Longmont makes six figures doing makeup tutorials on YouTube
LIFE This teenager from Longmont makes 6 figures doing makeup tutorials on YouTube Jake Warden has millions of followers on YouTube and Instagram by doing makeup tutorials to teach users how to look like celebrities like Ariana Grande. Author: Liz Kotalik Published: 5:00 AM 11:14 AM MDT May 13, 2019
DENVER — A 17-year-old from Longmont makes over six figures a year teaching the online world how to do their makeup.
“Beauty videos, I think, are timeless,” Jake Warden said. “Everyone wants to know how to do a smoky eye when they go out with their friends.”
By everyone, he means his followers on social media: more than 1.2 million subscribers on YouTube and 2.1 million on Instagram.
“It’s my creative outlet; it’s what I do that just kind of keeps me ‘me,’” Warden said.
Warden has been on YouTube since he was in the eighth grade, but his videos really started gaining traction when he found his passion for makeup.
“I couldn’t really comprehend what was going on,” Warden said. “I was about to finish my freshman year of high school, and everything kind of just changed.”
His social media accounts started seeing more and more followers, and beauty brands started paying big bucks to get Warden to promote their names.
“Having no money as a teenager to having all of this money, it was definitely hard and my parents helped me manage it and invest it,” he said. [They’d say] no, you’re not going to buy those $1,400 Louboutin shoes.”
He could eventually afford to get the Louboutins while saving some cash. However, he got to the point where he was so busy, he needed to start homeschooling. That’s where he is today: Living his dream, while also having the ability to support himself.
It’s the kind of success only about 3% of aspiring YouTube stars will ever see. If you’re relying on ad revenue alone, the most-popular content creators are poised to make about $16,000 a year.
“I do really think that there’s some luck involved,” said Casey Fiesler, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Department of Information Science . “I think people can get really excited about the potential of making all of this money from just making YouTube videos. But the odds that you’re going to make it are quite small.”
A lot of that has to do with the YouTube algorithm.
“It decides what content to show to anyone,” Fiesler said. “It’s a combination of what everyone might want to see and what an individual might want to see. And of course, that’s based on the kinds of videos that you personally want to watch, but also what lots of other people are watching.”
Fiesler sees makeup videos do very well, and because of the possibility of sponsorships, it’s the kind of content that has a better chance of making a creator money.
But you have to be good, and Jake is good. On top that, he’s doing things differently.
“I do think it’s a controversial thing, a boy in makeup,” Warden said. “Not a lot of people today are still OK with that, so it was something I was definitely nervous about putting online, but after I saw everyone be really cool about it…I was like, ‘Okay I can do this.’”
And he “does it” every week, with the hopes of expanding his reach even further.
“I feel like YouTube is a platform where I can feel safe,” he said. “You can kind of be and do whatever you want.”
His mother, Tracy Warden, is a big part of Jake’s success. We wanted to talk to her about her experience as well.
Read our Q&A below:
9NEWS: At what point did you realize Jake had “made it”?
Tracy Warden : J ake would always tell me, “Mom, some brand wants me to use their product in one of my videos, can I do it?” and then we were getting more and more emails and then he hit 1 million subscribers on Instagram.
I emailed a family friend who has been an entertainment lawyer and she started making inquiries. Jake got his first big brand deal and I couldn’t believe he was only 15 and making more money than me!
I was really excited and nervous for him all at the same time. It’s very surreal when strangers come up to you and say “Are you Jake Warden’s mom? I love him so much!”
How did you handle his popularity as his mom? Was that weird for you? Especially because this is all online?
I was definitely more protective of him because so much of what was happening was unknown. We didn’t know what to expect. I explained to Jake that there were a lot of people in the world and not all of them are nice.
He needed to ignore the junk people would say and not to engage. He’s been really good about it and doesn’t let the negative comments get to him. Now that it has been a few years there are a lot more positive comments then negative.
How hard was it to make the decision for him to homeschool?
I had my reservations, [and was] worried about the level of education he would receive and worried about his social interactions. I didn’t want it all to be online…
Jake was determined to be an influencer and I wanted to help him achieve his dream. He does value his education and is working hard to get his diploma. We have always discussed he needs to have an education and I wasn’t going to let that slide. He stays in school, he stays on YouTube.
Once Jake started making money, what was your strategy?
I had to quickly educate myself on how to manage large sums of money. Do we invest, what do we invest in, how much do I let Jake spend? How do you teach the value of a dollar to someone who can buy whatever wants?
We included Jake in how to manage his money, it’s a good learning experience. He set goals and we set a budget. Jake is grateful for the deals he gets and knows that nothing is a guarantee. He thinks a bit before he spends.
What’s your hope for his career in the future?
I know Jake will always be successful in whatever he does. He has always set his mind to something and accomplished it. I hope for Jake is that he continues to be able to do what makes him happy and he is able to share his personality and love for art with the world. Jake has a big heart and a lot to offer, he has taught me so much from his videos.
Nigel Farage Blasts ‘Ludicrous’ BBC Interview After Andrew Marr Grills Him Over Past Comments | HuffPost UK
Australia Brasil Canada España France Ελλάδα (Greece) India Italia 日本 (Japan) 한국 (Korea) Maghreb Québec (en français) United Kingdom United States POLITICS 12/05/2019 11:47 BST | Updated 13 hours ago Nigel Farage Blasts ‘Ludicrous’ BBC Interview After Andrew Marr Grills Him Over Past Comments Brexit Party leader quizzed on a second referendum, the NHS, Vladimir Putin and more. By Ned Simons Nigel Farage hit out at a “ludicrous” BBC interview on Sunday after he was forced to explain a series of his past positions.
The Brexit Party leader was questioned over why he had once appeared to back a Norway-style Brexit and suggested a second referendum might be needed.
Farage is now campaigning for a no-deal exit and has described holding another public vote as a “betrayal”.
Did Nigel Farage argue for a no deal #Brexit during the referendum campaign? #Marr asks the Brexit Party leader https://t.co/YWOQuda15q pic.twitter.com/rffZX0u7fJ
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) May 12, 2019 It comes as a poll showed The Brexit Party has surged into the lead in the upcoming European elections on 34%.
In a combative interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Farage was also grilled on his views on climate change, privatising the NHS, preventing people with HIV from entering the country, relaxing gun control laws and whether he admired Vladimir Putin .
#Marr asks the Brexit Party Leader Nigel Farage if he’s changed his views on the NHS, climate change, gun control and Vladimir Putin #Brexit https://t.co/YWOQuda15q pic.twitter.com/uW8EzpteN6
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) May 12, 2019 Farage accused Marr of being “not interested” in the upcoming vote. “This is absolutely ludicrous. I have never in my life seen a more ridiculous interview,” he said.
Speaking about the elections on May 23, Farage said the “only way” to now deliver on the referendum result was to “leave on WTO terms”.
He claimed if the UK left with no-deal the EU would then be “banging our door down to have a sensible tariff-free deal”.
John McDonnell, Labour’s shadow chancellor, said the Brexit Party leader’s “car crash interview” exposed “the frightening prospect for our community if Farage got anywhere near power”.
Brexit Party Leader Nigel Farage says the “obvious” free trade deal with the EU “didn’t happen”, so the UK should leave the EU “on WTO terms” #Marr https://t.co/oIVNAg8Lso #Brexit pic.twitter.com/pTlUpbTrZr
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) May 12, 2019 Farage argued a no-deal exit was worth it even if it caused “short-term economic disruption” as “moving house leads to short-term disruption”.
“If we had a second referendum, I think Leave would win by a bigger margin,” he added.
An Opinium survey for the MEP selections showed Labour second with 21% and the Lib Dems in third position with 12%. The Tories have dropped into fourth place with 11% support.
A bombshell ComRes poll also suggested Farage’s party has overtaken the Conservatives for the first time in a general election survey.
That level of support would see the Brexit Party win 49 seats, becoming the UK’s second biggest party after Labour, with 137.
Asked if he wanted to be prime minister, Farage told Marr: “No, not particularly.”
Related… Tony Blair Chips In With Advice On European Elections – And It Won’t Please Jeremy Corbyn Ned Simons Politics news editor, HuffPost UK
Who is YouTuber James Charles, and why has he lost millions of subscribers over 3 days?
May 13, 2019 2:09 pm Updated: May 13, 2019 2:22 pm Who is YouTuber James Charles, and why has he lost millions of subscribers over 3 days? By Katie Scott National Online Journalist, Smart Living & Entertainment Global News
U.S. internet personality James Charles arrives for the 2019 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2019, in New York. ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images A A +
James Charles , a 19-year-old beauty blogger, rose to fame after launching his makeup and beauty-focused YouTube channel in 2015.
Charles, who became the first male CoverGirl spokesperson at 16, attended the Met Gala this year.
James Charles attends The 2019 Met Gala Celebrating Camp: Notes on Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2019, in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
After his appearance on the red carpet, his YouTube channel had nearly 16-million subscribers.
READ MORE: Easy, breezy, groundbreaking: Meet James Charles, CoverGirl’s first male ambassador
Charles’ following fell from 16 million to 13 million in just a few days after fellow beauty blogger Tati Westbrook released a 43-minute video about her feelings towards Charles’ recent actions.
The drama began between Charles and Westbrook on April 22 when Charles posted to his Instagram Story promoting Sugar Bear Hair Care vitamins, which is a competitor to Westbrook’s hair supplement company, Halo Beauty.
James, who has referred to Westbrook as his mentor, later apologized to Westbrook in a tearful Instagram video. Story continues below
“I want to publicly apologize to my close friend, Tati,” Charles said, according to Newsweek . “She has been like a mother to me since my first days in this industry and has given me more love, support, resources and advice than I could ever ask for.”
He continued: “This weekend I did an Instagram story for sleep vitamins that I’ve been taking because the brand helped me with security when the crowd around me at Coachella became unsafe. I did not accept any money from this post.”
READ MORE: Constance Wu blames ‘rough day’ for abrupt tweets about ‘Fresh Off the Boat’ renewal
In her video titled, Bye Sister, Westbrook said that Charles has been lying about the reasons behind sponsored posts on Instagram.
The title of the video is a play on Charles’ YouTube video intro and catchphrase, “Hi Sisters.” He also refers to his fans as the Sisterhood.
“This is going to be intense, different and this is absolutely not a video I ever thought, in a million years that I would be making,” she began in the video, which has over 34-million views. “But I feel, after a lot of thought, that it’s necessary for me to have a chat with you guys.”
Westbrook went on to explain that she has always supported Charles without wanting something in return.
“My relationship with James Charles is not transactional. I have not asked him for a penny, I have never been on his Instagram,” she said.
Westbrook did claim to have arranged brand deals, contracts and other opportunities for the 19-year-old makeup guru because she wants “to see people grow and step into themselves.”
READ MORE: ‘Big Brother Canada’s’ Dane Rupert says waiting to announce winner ‘felt like 69 days all over again’
Westbrook said that she is cutting ties with Charles because she believes he is ungrateful and he is not willing to help others.
“How entitled do you have to be to think that you have it rough? You are a 19-year-old millionaire. You do not get to wake up and stress out about how unfair your job is. That is so ridiculous to me,” she said.
She continued: “Get off your high horse and have some respect. You don’t have any for the people who are in this industry and that’s the sad fact.”
Westbrook went on to say that she feels that Charles should try to be a better role model for his audience which is “made up of 12 and 14-year-olds dominantly.”
“His behaviour online is what they are seeing and emulating to be successful and adored by the masses. Everything is over-sexualized and that’s the huge under-layer to this that I’ve finally have had enough,” she said.
She accused Charles of spreading lies about her and telling YouTube gossip bloggers false information.
“You sold me out, but you threw away our friendship. You lied to me, made up a story, you knew this would be embarrassing for me. No, our relationship is not transactional. I have never asked you for anything in return,” she concluded.
READ MORE: ‘Big Brother Canada’s’ Anthony Douglas says the pretty boys ‘always knew what was going on’
Westbrook also referred to multiple examples of Charles exhibiting inappropriate behaviour towards straight men. Charles identifies as gay.
She brought up an inappropriate comment he made about wanting to hook up with a straight waiter at a restaurant, ignoring his sexual orientation. This is what Tati meant when she called out james charles as a sexual predator which is disgusting pic.twitter.com/HeldcCGibh
— lémon (@beycarters) May 11, 2019
CNN reported, that Charles lost around 2-million followers since Westbrook posted the video.
There is a live subscriber count on YouTube available to keep track of the Westbrook and Charles followers.
Westbrook appears to be gaining followers as Charles is losing his following.
According to Cosmopolitan, the entire Kardashian-Jenner family including Kim Kardashian , Khloe Kardashian , Kourtney Kardashian , Kris Jenner , Kendall Jenner and Kylie Jenner , who has collaborated with Charles on a YouTube video, have all unfollowed the beauty blogger on Instagram.
READ MORE: ‘Empire’ cancelled, Season 6 of the show will be its last
Charles responded to Westbrook on Saturday in an 8-minute video, which already has over 32-million views.
“To Tati and James Westbrook, I’m sorry for everything that is going on, everything that I’ve put you through over the past few weeks,” Charles said.
“I hate knowing that I disappointed not only [my fans], but two people that have been role models for me doing this,” he said looking into the camera.
“What sucks the most is that I know there’s nothing I can say or do to ever earn that friendship or trust back but I don’t blame them for it,” Charles added. “A lot of the time when I’ve had to address things in the past, I’ve acted out of impulse and I’ve gone off and tried to pull receipts or facts or screenshots and play the victim and I’m not doing that today, I’m not. That is all I have to say, I’m sorry.”
Westbrook has not responded to Charles’ apology as of this writing.
READ MORE: Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs breaks down talking about Kim Porter
Many people took to Twitter to make fun of the drama and to lighten the tension in the beauty blogging community. As YouTube makeup influencers feuded with each other, I couldn’t help but wonder: Had their relationship been built using a bad foundation? pic.twitter.com/HBQcKbwL32
The astonishing disappearing act of Beto O’Rourke
The astonishing disappearing act of Beto O’Rourke The Guardian 3 hrs ago Ed Pilkington in El Paso, Texas © REUTERS/Brian Snyder Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate and former U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke speaks at a campaign house party in Salem, New Hampshire, U.S., May 9, 2019. When Beto O’Rourke travelled to Yosemite in California to unveil his $5t n plan on climate change, a ripple of surprise crossed America. How did the tall white guy with the funny first name known for his punk past , Beatnik road trips and fondness for campaigning atop counters get to be the first Democratic candidate to proclaim on the crisis of our age?
This wasn’t the O’Rourke that the country had grown used to during his battle with Ted Cruz last November for a US Senate seat. Then, the Texas Democrat had propelled himself to within three percentage points of victory, and with it national stardom, by making viral speeches about NFL players taking a knee and by instilling hope through a feel-good but rather wishy-washy call to unity.
Now here he was framed against the beauty of Yosemite Falls, delivering a granular plan of action worthy of the most nerdish policy wonk. Coming from a politician from oil-rich Texas who has been criticized for his track record on fossil fuels, his proposals for the largest 10-year investment in history and a goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 caught many off guard.
“We were pleasantly surprised,” said David Turnbull of the climate advocacy group Oil Change US. “When you see someone like Beto O’Rourke calling for the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies and an end to fossil fuel leasing on public lands – that’s moving in the right direction.”
There was another group of people hoping to be pleasantly surprised by the Yosemite announcement that day – O’Rourke himself and his team of campaign advisers. They have been wrestling with one of the great magical mysteries of the early phase of the 2020 presidential election.
That is: the astonishing disappearing act of Beto O’Rourke.
Like Houdini, O’Rourke has gone from front of stage to a puff of smoke in six short months. #Betomania morphed into #Betofatigue, seemingly overnight.
Look back on the events of 7 November 2018, when he delivered his concession speech , having lost to Cruz in a packed sports stadium in El Paso, and you can see the contrast. At that time he was lauded as the politician who could do the impossible: challenge a virulent Republican like Ted Cruz in a solid red state like Texas and come within an inch of victory.
Next stop Donald Trump? But from the moment he launched his presidential bid in March, he has been struggling. Those very qualities that had been the recipe of his relative success in Texas suddenly became liabilities.
His charming ways and good looks were thrown back in his face as white privilege. That wasn’t helped when he gave Vanity Fair a gift of a one-liner on the eve of launch – “Man, I’m just born to be in it” – that made many Democrats wince.
The mere decision to run for the White House was interpreted as chutzpah. As the Daily Beast cruelly put it: “Reacting to losing to Ted Cruz by running for president is like failing to land a role in a community theater production and deciding to take your talents to Broadway.”
In the latest poll from Quinnipiac university, O’Rourke is drawing a glum 5% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters. He is being outgunned on 10% by Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who has stolen much of his thunder.
“We’ve seen Mayor Pete take the lad in the newcomer department,” said Quinnipiac’s Peter Brown who predicted worse to come. “We’ve got 18 months to go and I bet there will be other fresh faces taking the spotlight.”
So what happens next to O’Rourke now that the spotlight has swung away from him? Can he complete the Houdini trick and make a reappearance? And if he can, what kind of potential president would he present to the American people?
‘He was always very focused’ Examining those questions, it quickly becomes clear that all roads Beto lead to El Paso. That’s the dusty, sunbaked border town in Texas where he was born Robert Francis O’Rourke in 1972.
His father, Pat, was a businessman and judge, and his mother, Melissa, ran a furniture store. They were comfortably off and formed part of the white middle class elite in a city that is 80% Latino.
O’Rourke’s opponents have tried to depict his youth as one of fecklessness and debauchery. Rightwing pundits like to poke him for the name “Beto”, claiming it is a conceit designed to suggest that he has Latino roots, which he does not.
They also point to a drunk-driving episode in 1998, his teenaged flirtation with his punk band Foss and to the period when he floundered around in New York City working as a glorified maid . Reuters recently contributed to that pile of potential negative attack material with the revelation that O’Rourke had secretly belonged to the prominent “hactivist” group Cult of the Dead Cow.
But those who have known O’Rourke for years say they do not recognize this caricature of the spoilt wild boy from the border town. Take Maggie Asfahani, a writer and El Paso restaurateur, who had a teenaged romance with O’Rourke when he was at an all-male boarding school in Virginia.
Asfahani clearly recalls their first encounter in an El Paso mall when he was back on holiday. Her memory instantly puts to rest any suggestion that “Beto” was an adult affectation. “I’d imagined this Mexican kid, given the name, but there was this really tall white guy. I can categorically dismiss all that speculation – he was ‘Beto’ at least since I’ve known him in high school.”
Asfahani can also, incidentally, put to rest any scurrilous talk about a much reproduced photograph of O’Rourke flanked by his Foss bandmates in which he wears a long floral dress.
“I want to put on the record, that is my dress he’s wearing,” she said. “There’s nothing particularly complicated about it – we were all hanging out, and someone thought it would be funny if we switched clothes, the girls and guys. That was all, just being different.”
What struck Asfahani then as now was something that’s been lost amid the presidential chatter – his seriousness. “He was always very focused. He was this fiercely intelligent, curious person who was into things, always wanting to learn things, always with a book in his hand.”
Asfahani remains in touch with O’Rourke to this day. She thinks the flak he has taken over unearned entitlement since he entered the 2020 race, based on her knowledge of the man, has been unfair.
“It strikes me he is finding his way on the national stage,” she said. “He’s being open and honest and vulnerable, hoping people will relate to that and see themselves in it. That’s not a fault: it has been his personality since I’ve known him.”
‘He learned how to take energy from crowds’ O’Rourke’s entry into politics followed his return to El Paso, the prodigal son, at age 26. Having been largely away since his teens, he re-engaged with the city, setting up Stanton Street, an internet company combined with a short-lived alternative newspaper.
His political ideas formed around his ambitions for El Paso, which in the late 90s was economically depressed and suffering from a brain drain of young people. O’Rourke forged a bond with four friends who came to be known as the Progressives, one of whom, Veronica Escobar, now occupies the El Paso congressional seat vacated by O’Rourke.
“What motivated him was the idea that El Paso didn’t have to settle for being a low-key, down-at-heel city which was fine with exporting its children,” said Bob Moore, former editor of El Paso Times who has known O’Rourke since his return in 1998.
The Progressives’ aspirations for their city led all four friends to stand for local office. All four won, with O’Rourke joining the El Paso city council in 2005.
Moore recalls that in his political infancy O’Rourke cut a paradoxically diffident figure for a man now competing for the White House. “By nature he’s a deeply private person. He was very awkward when he first ran for office, uncomfortable in large groups. Then he learned how to take energy from crowds, and that has changed him.”
Despite such initial reticence, O’Rourke championed some radical and highly contentious causes. He became a passionate advocate of legalization of marijuana long before it was de rigueur, authoring a book with fellow Progressive Susie Byrd, Dealing Death And Drugs, that argued powerfully that the US war on drugs was a disaster for both sides of the US-Mexican border.
He also fought to extend health benefits to unmarried and same-sex partners of city workers , then a hot potato in heavily Catholic El Paso.
You will hear O’Rourke projecting his track record on marijuana and LGBT rights on the presidential campaign trail. You are much less likely to catch any reference to a third controversy that dogged him as city councilor, and still does to this day: the redevelopment of downtown El Paso.
The plan to revitalize downtown with a new sports arena, Walmart and other facilities preceded O’Rourke’s time on the council, having been initiated in 2004. But he embraced it keenly.
His involvement became problematic for two main reasons. The first was his family ties to the mastermind behind the plan, multi-millionaire real estate magnate William Sanders. Months after O’Rourke joined the council, he married Amy Sanders and William Sanders became his father-in-law.
The downtown project was a private-public partnership. The private side involved a civic organization called the Paso del Norte Group, PDNG, which Sanders set up with some of his super-wealthy friends from El Paso.
Controversy erupted when it emerged that O’Rourke was also a member. Did his position, with one foot in the private PDNG side of the deal and another on the public council side, amount to a conflict of interest? He was slapped with an ethics complaint, later dismissed.
O’Rourke initially voted in the council to go ahead with the development plan, but as local resistance grew he recused himself from several key votes. Further cries of foul play descended on him in 2012, when O’Rourke made an insurgent’s bid to unseat the incumbent Congressman for El Paso, Silvestre Reyes.
A company owned by Sanders contributed $40,000 to a Republican-backed Super Pac that invested in attack ads against Reyes, contributing to O’Rourke’s underdog victory and giving him a leg-up to Washington.
In a recent interview with the American Prospect , O’Rourke denied any conflict relating to his father-in-law. Sanders “made it a rule that he religiously followed, never to talk politics”, he said.
But the Sanders connection still rankles with activists opposed to the downtown scheme such as David Romo, a leading member of the main protest group Paso del Sur. He said that O’Rourke’s connections to Sanders takes the shine off his current claim that as a presidential candidate he eschews big money and is running a “people’s campaign” .
Romo told the Guardian that in his view O’Rourke’s role in the redevelopment casts doubt on his 2020 candidacy. “What happened in El Paso tells me that the solution to our national problems does not come from a multi-millionaire funded by billionaires who does their bidding.”
Romo is a celebrated historian of El Paso’s revolutionary past and as such is an articulate exponent of the second criticism leveled at O’Rourke over the redevelopment scheme – that he sided with gentrification despite the harm it would inflict on poor Latino residents and historic El Paso. “He was the pretty face of ugly gentrification.”
O’Rourke denies that he sided with gentrifiers, insisting his intention was to breathe new life into the dilapidated heart of a major city. He did tell the American Prospect, though, that in hindsight he accepts that he did “a really poor job of listening to that criticism”.
‘He really does need to answer questions’ Similar controversy followed O’Rourke to Washington. Whether it originated from his innate pragmatism as a politician who tends to decide each issue as it comes rather than following ideology, or whether it was because of his roots in Texas, a state that has been dominated by Republicans for the past 20 years, his voting record in Congress was striking for its lack of party purity.
Although El Paso veers overwhelmingly Democratic, a fivethirtyeight.com tracker shows that he voted 30% of the time in line with Trump. Compare that to his presidential rivals: Kamala Harris (17%), Bernie Sanders (14%) or Elizabeth Warren (13%).
That didn’t matter much in his senatorial race last November. But then he was running against Ted Cruz, one of the most toxic rightwing senators who even fellow Republicans call “Lucifer in the flesh” .
In that race he proved himself to have several of the qualities that might appeal to Democratic voters looking for a presidential nominee capable of beating Trump, first and foremost his ability to turn out the vote. He showed himself adept in appealing to young people, African Americans, Latinos and suburban white women – electoral groups all likely to play a crucial role in 2020 in deciding Trump’s fate.
But the road to the presidential nomination is proving to be a stonier path for O’Rourke than his route last year. By taking his campaign national he has moved on to much more fertile ground for a Democrat than the traditionally arid soil of Texas, yet it has come at the price of sharply intensified scrutiny.
Which brings O’Rourke back to his climate change announcement amid the splendor of Yosemite Falls. Fossil fuel activists may have been pleasantly surprised by O’Rourke’s robust policy, but that doesn’t mean they have forgotten that his relationship with the oil industry has been complicated.
He hesitated for weeks before agreeing to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge in which candidates forego all donations above $200 from Pacs, lobbyists and executives of fossil fuel companies. The pledge was particularly sensitive for O’Rourke, who according to Open Secrets accepted more contributions from oil and gas in 2018 than any congressional candidate other than Ted Cruz.
Related: Beto O’Rourke raises $6.1m in first 24 hours, smashing Bernie Sanders’ record
He has said his hesitancy was out of concern for ordinary workers in the industry who should be allowed to participate. The organizers of the pledge however stressed that only the donations of top bosses were excluded.
In the end, he did sign the pledge, two days after his Yosemite declaration .
Another sticking point is that O’Rourke voted twice in Congress to lift a 40-year ban on US exports of crude oil. He tried to justify the vote in October 2015, two months before the Paris Agreement on combating climate change was adopted by 195 nations, by arguing that US crude was cleaner than that of other countries and “the oil that supplies the current dominant mode of transportation will have to come from somewhere”.
The lifting of the ban has led to a massive spike in US crude exports , from well under 1m barrels per day to more than 3m per day currently. “There’s been a dangerous and problematic increase in the extraction of crude oil driven by exports in the US. He really does need to answer questions about that vote,” David Turnbull of Oil Change US said.
It all points to the steep uphill climb that Beto O’Rourke faces if he is to claw his way back into the Democratic spotlight. The Yosemite announcement made a solid start, introducing American voters to a more serious, focused politician than they had previously been shown.
Now the real scramble begins.
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