Despite high hopes among progressives across the country, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won reelection on Tuesday night. This immediately had many on the left wondering: Will Cruz's opponent Beto O'Rourke run for president in 2020?
O'Rourke, who currently serves in the House of Representatives, quickly was seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party after launching his campaign against Cruz. Although Texas is a deep red state, he often polled within striking distance of Cruz, and many held out hope that he'd be able to squeak out a victory on Tuesday.
That didn't happen. But O'Rourke became something of a national name during the election, and his ability to be competitive with Cruz in Texas led some Democrats to float his name as a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2020.
O'Rourke, however, quickly batted down that speculation, telling MSNBC in no unclear terms that he isn't going to seek the presidency in two years. "I will not be a candidate for president in 2020,” O'Rourke told MSNBC before Election Day. “That’s I think as definitive as those sentences get.”
One reason for this, O'Rourke said, is the toll that his Senate campaign has taken on his family. "We've spent the better part of the last two years not with each other, missing birthdays, and anniversaries, and time together. Our family could not survive more of that. We need to be together," O'Rourke said. "I'm saying that if elected to the Senate, I'll serve every day of that six-year term. I'm not looking at 2020, and in fact, I'm completely ruling that out. I'm not going to do that. Win or lose, I'm not running in 2020."
Having said that, it's not unheard of for politicians to rule out running for president but then reverse course later on down the line. In fact, that's exactly what Barack Obama did in 2006, when he declared definitively on NBC's Meet the Press that "I will not" run for president in 2008. Needless to say, Obama did run for president in 2008.
It's also worth noting that although he ultimately lost his race, O'Rourke came much, much closer to defeating Cruz than the last Democrat to run for the Senate in Texas. In 2012, Cruz's Democratic opponent lost by 16 points; O'Rourke, by contrast, lost by less than three points, which is an incredibly impressive showing for a Democrat running statewide in the Lonestar State.
As such, it would be premature to write O'Rourke's political obituary just yet. Some have suggested that he'd make for a strong vice presidential candidate for whichever Democrat wins the party's nomination in 2020, and as a sitting congressman, he'll still have plenty of opportunities to stay in the news and raise his profile in the lead-up to 2020.