After months of speculation and live-streamed visits to the dentist, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke has announced that he has decided on the nature of his next announcement.
A source familiar with the 46-year-old’s plans told CNN that O’Rourke will forego a follow-up bid for the Senate in 2020, leaving open the possibility of a presidential campaign.
O’Rourke, who rose to national prominence after pushing incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz to the brink of defeat with the help of an $80 million fundraising haul, is among a host of rising Democratic stars rumored to be considering (or considered for) a White House bid. After losing the firmly Republican Lone Star State by less than three percentage points with his Obama-like mixture of optimism and distaste for partisanship, O’Rourke’s unusual accessibility and candor on hot-button issues could prove an interesting litmus test for a Democratic party struggling to harness the power of young voters.
Since his narrow defeat, O’Rourke has focused most of his attention on opposing Trump’s border security measures, culminating in coverage of his decision to lead thousands past a Trump rally in El Paso, Texas, to one of his own, which happened to be mere yards away.
Through an aide, O’Rourke told the Dallas Morning News that he has “made a decision about how we can best serve our country,” along with his wife, beating a self-imposed February deadline to decide on his next steps.
At a Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense event in El Paso, O’Rourke told CNN that an announcement would come soon while declining to go into further detail.
“I’m going to make an announcement soon,” he said. “I’m going to be making the same announcement to everyone at the same time,” he said. “That’s all I can say at this time.”
O’Rourke’s campaign won’t be without its hurdles. Though rising to prominence due in part to his well-considered responses to questions about NFL players and their decisions to kneel and the murder of Botham Jean, will have to do a great deal of explaining to assuage concerns over his support for anti-Black Lives Matter legislation. He’ll also have to deal with the matter of his loss to the universally reviled Cruz in his home state.
Should Beto decide to run, he’d better be ready to mix it up.