The Amarillo Pioneer

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Robert vs. Rafael: Nicknames on the Ballot in Texas Races

When voters head to the polls this November, two of the three candidates in Texas' top race will be appearing on the ballot using their nicknames.

In the race for the U.S. Senate, voters in Texas will pick between Robert Francis O'Rourke, Rafael Edward Cruz and Neal Monroe Dikeman. Two of the candidates, O'Rourke and Cruz, are running under their nicknames. Many voters have been asking why the candidates are using nicknames and how such a phenomenon could be legal for an election.

For O'Rourke's case, the El Paso Democrat is using the name "Beto." According to information that has been on reported on O'Rourke's campaign, Beto is a nickname for Robert that is common along the border. In every election for which he has appeared on the ballot, O'Rourke has always run as Beto O'Rourke.

For Cruz, the Republican and former presidential hopeful, is running as Ted. In Cruz's 2015 autobiography, the Republican says he decided to change his name in junior high to Ted, after being called Felito. Cruz also said that his father originally opposed the name change due to Edward "Ted" Kennedy's use of the Ted name in Massachusetts.

Libertarian Neal Dikeman is not using a nickname.

According to applications to run for office in Texas, candidates may use non-hyphenated nicknames on the ballot, as long as the candidate has been known by the name for at least three years preceding the election. Candidates' nicknames sometimes appear in quotation marks, parentheses or standing alone.

In other races, some candidate are using shortened forms of their names. For governor, Republican Greg Abbott and Democrat Lupe Valdez are both using shortened forms of their names - Gregory and Guadalupe, respectively.

Locally, some candidates have also used a shortened form of a name on the ballot. In 2017, at least two city council candidates in Amarillo used shortened forms of their given names.

So, if you ever consider running for office, know that you might be able to use a nickname. But it might take some special paperwork and three years to get the job done.

Cruz, O'Rourke  Photos by US News, KUT

Cruz, O'Rourke

Photos by US News, KUT

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