Beto Leaning Toward 2020 Run, But He’s Annoying Liberal Activists in Early States | NTK Network Beto Leaning Toward 2020 Run, But He’s Annoying Liberal Activists in Early States

Beto Leaning Toward 2020 Run, But He’s Annoying Liberal Activists in Early States

Those close to O’Rourke say he’s leaning toward running, but early-state Democrats want to know why they haven’t heard from him.

By NTK Staff | 01.09.2019 @10:30am
Beto Leaning Toward 2020 Run, But He’s Annoying Liberal Activists in Early States

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the Texas Democrat who captured national Democrats’ attention for his losing Senate bid to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), is “leaning toward running for president,” according to a Tuesday evening report from Politico.

But if that is in fact the case, Democrats in early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire want to know why their calls aren’t being returned by O’Rourke’s political team. Instead, O’Rourke announced this week that he would be launching a political road trip to non-early primary states and without staff or press.

In Iowa and New Hampshire — where Democrats are accustomed to being courted aggressively by presidential contenders — calls from Democratic Party organizers to O’Rourke’s advisers go unreturned. And a report in the Wall Street Journal on Monday that O’Rourke won’t make any decision before February and is preparing for a solo road trip — but avoiding early nominating states — bewildered even his supporters.

“I have no idea what that is, what that means, what the strategy is,” said Tyler Jones, a Democratic strategist in South Carolina working on a campaign to draft O’Rourke into the presidential race. “Beto’s always done things more unconventionally than other Democratic leaders, so I think it’s very much on brand … I’m sure he has a strategy, and just because we don’t know what it is doesn’t mean it’s not a good one.”

To be sure, O’Rourke would begin a 2020 presidential campaign behind his peers. For starters, some candidates like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have already made campaign appearances in Iowa, and billionaire megadonor Tom Steyer is expected to announce his presidential aspirations in Iowa on Wednesday.

What’s more, many candidates who have not yet announced their presidential bids have already donated thousands of dollars to the Iowa Democratic Party:

Other top-tier presidential contenders, including Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), toured Iowa last fall. Harris, who also contributed $25,000 to the state Democratic Party, is about to embark on a national book tour; another likely candidate, Julián Castro, is preparing to formally announce his 2020 campaign on Saturday.

Despite multiple invitations to O’Rourke to appear in Iowa, “we still haven’t heard anything,” said Sean Bagniewski, chairman of the Polk County Democrats. “At this point, I think a lot of folks are starting to assume that he’s not getting in — and move on to other people.”

Democratic voters in Iowa are conditioned to receiving an outsized proportion of attention from White House aspirants. Until O’Rourke starts giving these people the attention they crave, doubts will continue to linger about his chances in the Hawkeye State and beyond.

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