46-year-old Beto O’Rourke, former congressman for the state of Texas, announced his intention to run for President of the United States. O’Rourke, whose 2018 Senate run made him a Democratic star, is hoping that voters will respond to his message of uniting the nation during the 2020 primary.
Beto jumps into an election already stuffed with candidates, planning to make a name for himself with notable accomplishments during his three terms in the Texas House. However, Mr. O’Rourke enters his name into the fray without any signature ideas that would serve as the anchor for his candidacy.
O’Rourke announced his candidacy via video, which was released a few hours prior to heading to Iowa on Thursday morning. He stated in his video:
“I am running to serve you as the next president. The challenges we face are the greatest in living memory. No one person can meet them on their own. Only this country can do that, and only if we build a movement that includes all of us.”
As Mr. O’Rourke announces his candidacy, the field for the Democratic primary appears to be set. Although former Vice President Biden is expected to join the race in the coming months along with other notable candidates Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Tulsi Gabbard, and Elizabeth Warren.
Many of his competitors are concerned about Mr. O’Rourke, as they recognize that his face-to-face politicking will suit him well in states like New Hampshire and Iowa. These are the types of states that crave the personal attention and interaction that Mr. O’Rourke will provide.
Separation From His Peers
Pundits believe that Mr. O’Rourke’s ability to create his own narrative might be the differentiator he needs to create separation from other candidates. For example, O’Rourke refused to back down on the topic of Trump’s border wall, stating that “We have so much to give, so much to show the rest of the country.”
However, despite this advantage, the Democratic primary could potentially be a challenge for Mr. O’Rourke. For instance, there are many who question how he’ll manage to scale up his organization or hand over the control needed to run a large-scale candidacy. Mr. O’Rourke has been personally involved with most of the planning for his announcement, something he’ll have to relinquish in the months ahead if he wants to have a successful candidacy.
Mr. O’Rourke has yet to decide on who will manage his campaign. He has discussed the position with many strategists, however, it appears as though it is still uncertain as to who will be at the forefront of his organization.
While Mr. O’Rourke has the support of many of President Obama’s staff, he doesn’t have the benefit of a single overriding issue to drive his candidacy. As his party continues to move to the left, Mr. O’Rourke refuses to consider himself a progressive, stating that he’s just not big on putting labels on people.
Additional controversy surrounds Mr. O’Rourke as he has frustrated those within his party in the past. In 2016 and 2018, Mr. O’Rourke chose to support challengers to the Democrats, a move that could come back to haunt him during his push toward candidacy.
There are also those that suggest Mr. O’Rourke should not be running for the presidency since he lost the Senate battle in his own state. Many encourage him to run for a statewide office before stepping out onto the larger stage.
However, Mr. O’Rourke is not deterred. He wants to create a campaign that focuses on voters that normally don’t vote and encouraging them to make it out to the polls. Mr. O’Rourke has made the visit to college campuses in hopes of drawing out younger voters, as well as making a solo trip to meet Americans on their terms.
Mr. O’Rourke also shared some personal thoughts as he mulled over his candidacy. “Have been stuck lately. In an out of a funk,” he shared. “Maybe if I get moving, on the road, meet people, learn about what’s going on where they live, have some adventure, go where I don’t know and I’m not known, it’ll clear my head.”