It’s already pretty clear who’ll have the 2020 Republican nomination, but the Democrat race is a lot more open. The prospect of Hillary Clinton taking a third shot at the White House is an electoral dream – for Trump – and several other candidates are starting to make noises about giving it a try. One of the most popular contenders is former Texas congressman “Beto” O’Rourke – but the man himself is being coy about whether he’ll run or not.
Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke is a man with ambitions. After serving three terms as a congressman, he ran in the 2018 Texas Senate race, but lost to incumbent Ted Cruz. His defeat was surprisingly narrow in what’s been regarded as a safe Republican seat, but it still put the brakes on his plans. Now, though, he might be bouncing back to take a shot at an even bigger prize – the White House. That’s a big hill for a former representative to get up in one bound – a Senate seat or governorship are the usual staging posts on the way to the presidency. It’s not totally unprecedented though; after all, Lincoln became president after a single term in the House. Is O’Rourke planning to follow in Honest Abe’s footsteps?
- On November 16 last year, shortly after losing the Senate race, O’Rourke had a low-profile private meeting with former president, Barack Obama, in Washington. Reporting at the time claimed that some of Obama’s former staffers were encouraging O’Rourke to run in 2020. However, both men’s representatives refused to comment on what had been discussed.
- There’s a pattern emerging, though; Obama has also held meetings with several other prospective candidates, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
- O’Rourke himself tried to calm down the speculation. “Amy (his wife) and I made a decision to not rule anything out,” he said.
- A new political action committee has been set up to encourage O’Rourke to run. This is an unusual move, though, because one of the things that set O’Rourke apart from other Democrats during his abortive Senate bid was his disdain for PACs. He went so far as to refuse to accept campaign donations from them.
- Despite that, O’Rourke managed to raise around $80 million in contributions – more than any other Senate contender has ever collected.
- O’Rourke seems to be popular among the Democrat mainstream, and that’s a factor that must tempt him to take a shot at the Oval Office. On the other hand, to even get to the start line of that race he has to get through the selection and primary process – where the opposition of the party’s activists to a white male candidate is going to play a big role. O’Rourke could be a popular candidate with the voters, but his party is likely to stop him ever getting to that point.