Beto O’Rourke, who just a year ago was an obscure, third-term congressional representative from El Paso, Texas, sent out an email from his Senatorial campaign on Saturday that sounded a lot like the 46-year-old was about to jump into the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race. In the email, posted on Twitter by Texas Tribune journalist Alexandra Samuels, O’Rourke deputy campaign manager Cynthia Cano promised a “big announcement,” and said that following O’Rourke’s surprisingly close bid to unseat Republican Senator Ted Cruz in 2018, “I’m ready for us to bring our movement to the rest of the country.”
But, as The Hill reported, the campaign email did not give any date or time frame for the “big announcement.”
O’Rourke himself, however, announced 10 days ago that he had made up his mind about whether or not to run for president, according to Politico. Now, he says, he is simply waiting for the right moment to reveal his decision.
“I want to make sure I do it the right way and I tell everyone at the same time, so I’ll be doing that,” he told Politico, at a Saturday screening of a new documentary about his senate campaign against Cruz. “I’ve got to be on the timeline that works for my family and for the country.”
After a two-year campaign in which he reportedly spent time in all 254 Texas counties, O’Rourke ultimately came up short against Cruz, losing the election with 48.3 percent of the vote to 50.9 for Cruz. But in a state that had not elected a Democratic senator since Lloyd Bentsen in 1988, according to The Texas Tribune, O’Rourke’s narrow defeat was taken as a moral victory by Democrats.
O’Rourke also beat the polling expectations, which showed him losing by 6.8 percentage points, according to the Real Clear Politics average of all polls.
O’Rourke, if his decision is affirmative as Saturday’s campaign email and O’Rourke’s own statements appear to hint, will now take the unusual leap from a losing senate campaign straight to a presidential bid. But according to a Texas Tribune analysis, a national campaign would expose O’Rourke to the intense scrutiny of his political beliefs that he largely avoided in his run for Senate against Cruz, who has been rated the fourth-most conservative United States senator by GovTrack (tied with two other Republicans).
“If someone as inspiring as Beto was running, there were very few questions asked about the minutiae of his policy positions,” Adam Green, of the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee, told The Tribune. “In a presidential primary, when there are so many good choices on the table, ideology matters and a candidate’s worldview matters. And I think Beto will have a lot of worldview questions to fill in for voters.”