Former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke formally announced Thursday that he will seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, ending months of intense speculation over whether he’d try to translate his newfound political celebrity into a White House bid.
Until he challenged Republican Senator Ted Cruz last year, O’Rourke was little known outside his hometown of El Paso.
According to The New York Times, the Spanish-speaking 46-year-old former punk rocker became a sensation during a campaign that used grassroots organizing and social media savvy to mobilize young voters and minorities. He got within 3 percentage points of upsetting Cruz in the nation’s largest red state, and shattered national fundraising records in the process, immediately fueling chatter that he could have higher ambitions.
For all the buzz associated with his candidacy, the former three-term congressman hasn’t demonstrated much skill in domestic or foreign policy. And, as a white man, he’s entering a field that has been celebrated for its diverse roster of women and people and color.
“This is going to be a positive campaign that seeks to bring out the very best from every single one of us, that seeks to unite a very divided country,” O’Rourke said in a video announcement with his wife on a couch. “We saw the power of this in Texas.”
O’Rourke promises in the video posted Thursday: “I’m going to travel this country and listen to those I seek to serve” and then will return to El Paso on March 30 for a campaign kickoff. He invites would-be supporters “to the greatest grassroots campaign this country has ever seen.”