Beto O’Rourke may have lost to Ted Cruz in a closer-than-expected Texas Senate race, but a number of pundits and supporters think the former Congressman could have something even bigger ahead — a presidential run in 2020.
O’Rourke was able to close what was once a considerable gap and create a tight race with Ted Cruz, who ultimately defeated him on Election Day. Despite the loss, the energy that O’Rourke created in the race is believed to have helped a number of House candidates win close races in Texas, Nathaniel Rakich of FiveThirtyEight reported.
Though Beto O’Rourke’s loss in Texas was disappointing for supporters and helped to squash any long-shot hopes Democrats had of taking the Senate, many still see a bright future for him. During the campaign, O’Rourke earned a number of favorable comparisons to Barack Obama for his oratory skills and ability to connect with average voters. O’Rourke pledged not to accept and Super PAC money during the campaign and took a decidedly low-tech approach, relying on frequent campaign stops across all parts of the state.
Many of those who backed Beto O’Rourke expressed a desire to see him run for president in 2020, even with the loss on Tuesday.
CNN projects Cruz beats Beto.
Now, does Beto run for president???
— Chris Cillizza (@CillizzaCNN) November 7, 2018
if Beto gets persuaded to run for president in 2020, he will instantly become a top-tier candidate https://t.co/AkjFLKzFt3
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) November 7, 2018
Beto lost? That’s ok. Now he can run for President.
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) November 7, 2018
What Beto O'Rourke did in Texas was absolutely amazing and—while I'm certainly not announcing support for any candidate—I do believe, fervently, Beto should run for President of the United States in 2020.
100% serious. If he can get 48% in Texas, anything is possible nationally.
— Seth Abramson (@SethAbramson) November 7, 2018
It appeared to be more than just wishful thinking after a difficult loss. Pundits had pegged Beto O’Rourke as a potential 2020 presidential candidate as far back as March, when the Houston Chronicle noted that talk of him running had already started.
At the time, Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy, himself considered a potential 2020 candidate for the Democrats, said he believed O’Rourke could be a good pick instead.
“Look, for a Democrat, at the moment, to be able win statewide in Texas, I actually think is more difficult than to run for president,” Kennedy said during a ride with O’Rourke around the Houston area. Though O’Rourke did not win, just making the race in solidly red Texas so competitive was seen as a victory by many.
For his part, Beto O’Rourke had flatly denied that he had any plans to run for president in 2020.
“I will not be a candidate for president in 2020,” O’Rourke said in the days before the election (via the Washington Examiner).
“That’s I think as definitive as those sentences get.”
Beto O’Rourke could lead a blue wave in Texas — even though he lost his Senate race https://t.co/yZuWvxVpHs
— Vox (@voxdotcom) November 7, 2018
But others noted that the pledge from Beto O’Rourke means little in 2018, as it is not uncommon for presidential candidates to deny any interest in running before they actually do declare their intentions to run.