Beto don’t run, he skateboards.
Democrats want Beto O’Rourke to run in 2020 for the White House or Senate — they don’t really care for which; they just want him on the battlefield.
O’Rourke may have lost to Cruz in ruby red Texas Tuesday night, but he lost like no Democrat has in 20-plus years. O’Rourke came within 2.6 percentage points of Cruz, radically boosted turnout among young and minority voters, and he raised an ungodly amount of money.
Critics pointed to the plethora of profiles written about O’Rourke for the mania surrounding the 46-year-old politician daring to run statewide in Texas, but the crowds came before the profiles. As O’Rourke traveled non-stop to all 254 counties in Texas his profile grew outside of the Lone Star State. Videos went viral of his answers to questions about NFL players kneeling in protest of police brutality against African Americans during the national anthem, or of his riding a skateboard in a Whatabuger parking lot.
“He absolutely should consider running,” Rep. Mark Veasey, D-Texas, said of a possible O’Rourke presidential run. “It would be unwise for him to not to.”
“What Beto did, he changed Texas and put Texas in play,” Veasey said, making clear that he hasn’t endorsed anyone in the 2020 presidential contest.
O’Rourke said he definitively will not run for president when asked in the aftermath of his loss, but a number of Democrats are already in his ear trying to change his mind. Fellow Texas Democrat Rep. Filemon Vela was with O’Rourke on election night and in the days since has urged O’Rourke to visit Iowa — where presidential dreams get their start.
The excitement O’Rourke has generated among Democrats is palpable. At an election night party for a House Democrat in Virginia Tuesday, the loudest cheers outside of those for the local candidate Jennifer Wexton came when early results showed O’Rourke with a slight lead (only 2 percent of precincts were reporting at the time.)
Throughout the campaign, Veasey said he received texts from people living in other states with Beto for Senate signs in their yard. Two days after the election as Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez went through the election results with press, Beto O’Rourke was the name he mentioned repeatedly when discussing how to keep momentum on Democrats’ side.
“Beto inspired so many young people and new voters to get out, and he’s established a baseline that’s far higher,” Perez said. “And now we build on it; success is about persistence.”
Seeing O’Rourke’s success even in defeat, Perez said, means that Democrats are going to target Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in 2020.
“Are we going to compete in the Texas Senate race in 2020? The answer is hell yeah,” Perez said. “You’re going to see a lot of prominent Democrats come up and compete against John Cornyn.”
Keir Murray, a Democratic strategist who has worked on campaigns in the state for 20 years, thinks O’Rourke should get back in the game quickly rather than wait for another moment.
“I absolutely think Beto should run for U.S. Senate here, at the very least,” Murray said. “I don’t think we’re going to find a better candidate.”