Former presidential candidate Martin O’Malley is urging Beto O’Rourke to launch a 2020 White House bid, while making clear he’s taking himself out of the running.
The former governor of Maryland who abandoned his 2016 Democratic primary campaign against Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., after a third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses penned an op-ed in the Des Moines Register Thursday encouraging outgoing Texas Rep. O’Rourke to run.
“I will not be running for president in 2020, but I hope Beto O’Rourke does. And this is why,” O’Malley wrote. “People are looking for a new leader who can bring us together. They are looking for a unifier and a healer. They are looking for a leader of principle, and they are now looking for a fearless vision.”
O’Rourke, 46, was recently defeated by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in Texas after a hard-fought midterm election battle, but is seen as a fresh face for the Democrats in 2020. The Texas Senate race was the most expensive midterm contest ever, with O’Rourke spending nearly $80 million against Cruz.
“In his courageous run for U.S. Senate in Texas, O’Rourke ran a disciplined and principled campaign that also managed to be raw, authentic, and real,” O’Malley wrote. “He spoke to the American values of honesty, compassion for one another, and courage in the face of a rapidly changing future.”
O’Malley added: “Like so many other Americans, I believe we need new leadership to make that future a reality. And, I believe the new leader who can best bring us together and turn us around to create that better American future, is Beto O’Rourke.”
Speculation of a possible O’Rourke presidential bid began soon after the November elections, despite his loss and an October comment ruling out a candidacy in 2020. But after the election, O’Rourke didn’t dismiss the possibility of running for the White House.
O’Rourke said during a town hall in November that he and his wife will “think about what we can do next to contribute to the best of our ability to this community.”
O’Rourke then grinned at his wife, asking “Was that OK?”
The outgoing Texas congressman also said that he and his wife Amy decided “not to rule anything out.”
O’Rourke reportedly met with former President Barack Obama in November, further fueling the speculation. Obama, in November, called O’Rourke an “impressive young man.”
While O’Rourke is weighing a potential 2020 campaign, so are at least three-dozen Democrats who have floated possible bids to take on President Trump.
Since the midterms, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., launched a formal presidential exploratory committee; liberal billionaire Tom Steyer unveiled a six-figure ad buy and platform in an apparent signal of 2020 interest; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent time in Iowa; and numerous other potential candidates have swung by early-voting primary states.