Beto O'Rourke is an anomaly in American politics who recently faced a backlash of sorts when he had the audacity to ignore media requests soon after his announcement to run for President of the United States; instead choosing to replicate his grassroots style of campaigning that worked so well in his unlikely Senate run.
In the US, the party the proposed candidate is a member of has to nominate them to run against the imposing party incumbent - in this case, it's Donald Trump, so there are a couple of dozen Democrats running. This in direct contrast to when Hillary Clinton ran against Bernie Sanders and there was just one other possible nominee - Martin O'Malley.
Before Beto decided he'd run for POTUS, he ran for the Senate in Texas, a notoriously red (Republican) state that no Democrat had won in since the mid-90s. Despite the odds being stacked against him, O'Rourke ran a stunning, inherently inclusive campaign that energised young people and minorities in a way no other candidate ever had, raising record amounts of money from his supporters in the process.
O'Rourke's opponent was one Ted Cruz who you might remember as the last men standing against Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2016; he was basically a punching bag for Trump who, amongst other things, insulted his wife's appearance and insinuated Cruz's father shot JFK. While Cruz is broadly disliked in American politics, he's still an old school conservative politician in a state that eats that stuff up.
In Running with Beto, which is produced by 'Crooked Media' a company headed up by former staffers of Barack Obama, and featured on HBO last week, the focus is on that campaign for that Senate seat, a couple of Beto's hardcore supporters and life on the road. O'Rourke visited all of Texas' 254 counties which is a staggering feat in itself when you consider the size of The Lone Star state, which has just under 30 million residents. He did this with very few members of the media giving him a chance, ultilising his thriving social media presence to rally supporters and push the race to the wire.
If you don't follow American politics but think you recognise Beto, then it's likely you saw his defense of NFL stars taking a knee - a risky move in a state that is fiercely patriotic. The doc catches this moment in real time, with 'O Rourke's team filming it live for Facebook during one of his many town hall events, where he answers questions and addresses concerns from Texans. The video quickly went viral and garnered the former Congressman nationwide attention, leading to appearances on Stephen Colbert and Ellen and endorsements from famous Texans' Beyonce and Willie Nelson.
There's an obvious air of inevitability around proceedings, but O'Rourke is still incredibly infectious; his enthusiasm and earnest, bi-partisan speeches looking to bring people together reminiscent of a young, idealistic Barack Obama - another former member of Congress the media never gave a chance until it was impossible to ignore.
While O'Rourke ultimately loses the Senate race, he does so by a paper-thin margin, remarkably mobilising those younger and minority voters who likely didn't see a point in voting before he stood up and said 'you matter'. It's a beautiful thing to behold, as is the quick emotional turnaround of his disappointed supporters who think 'dust yourself off, we have work to do.'
The current race for the Democratic nominee has been cordial enough so far, with Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders leading the pack and O'Rourke placing generally in the top five or six. The biggest test for all of the candidates will come when the first debate happens at the end of June. Each nominee will be given a short, allotted time to make their case to the American people. American politics is in a strange place at the moment, with people still rattled by Donald Trump's 2016 win, searching through the debris to figure out what exactly went wrong. In a party swinging hard left to counter the increasingly perturbing conservative policies of Trump, someone who doesn't talk down to voters, who deeply believes that people can come together, might just be what America needs.
You wouldn't bet against Beto defying the odds again.