Originally Posted: Feb. 25, 2019
The clock is ticking and political observers in Texas and across the country are growing more anxious over what Beto O’Rourke will decide to do in 2020. The former El Paso Congressman and 2018 Texas U.S. Senate candidate recently told Oprah Winfrey he hoped to decide on a possible presidential run by the end of the month, which is now just a few days away. Other possibilities for O’Rourke include a challenge to Sen. John Cornyn next year, or a possible vice presidential spot on a Democratic ticket.
The only thing that appears certain is that O’Rourke will run for something. Since the start of the year, he has made several high-profile appearances to garner attention, including the Oprah interview and his dueling rally in El Paso on the same night President Trump came to town. There are also several Democratic groups trying to draft O’Rourke to run for president.
Matthew Wilson, political science professor at Southern Methodist University, believes another Senate run makes more sense politically for O’Rourke and the Democratic Party. “I think they, at least, believe there are a number of people in their presidential field who could beat Donald Trump…but winning a U.S. Senate seat in Texas as a Democrat is a tougher lift, and they think O’Rourke has a real chance to do that,” he says. “Plus, if he’s on the ballot he’ll drive turnout in Texas and make Republicans compete there in the presidential race, so from the party’s standpoint, I think the incentives are pretty clear to try to steer him toward a Senate run.”
As for a possible vice presidential bid, Wilson thinks that is more of a long shot. “If he’s going to be chosen as a vice presidential candidate, it would seem he would have to be chosen out of the presidential pool,” he says. “If he’s going to be on the ticket, he would need to keep his name in the national spotlight in one capacity or another.”
In the meantime, Cornyn is already ramping up his 2020 campaign and fundraising effort, in case of an O’Rourke challenge. “Beto O’Rourke is a political celebrity now,” says Wilson. “John Cornyn is aware of that, and he does not want to get caught asleep at the switch…he knows he is going to have to run hard, especially if O’Rourke is the opponent.” LISTEN