Beto O’Rourke, the youthful Texan who gained a national following with his long-shot election battle against U.S. Senator Ted Cruz last year, told a Texas TV station Wednesday he would seek the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.
“I’m really proud of what El Paso did and what El Paso represents,” O’Rourke said in a text to TV station KTSM. “It’s a big part of why I’m running. This city is the best example of this country at its best.”
A formal announcement will be made Thursday morning by O’Rourke, a 46-year-old former three-term U.S. congressman from West Texas, the television station said.
With his presidential effort, O’Rourke is hoping to leverage the fame he gained with his Senate race. He was a heavy underdog when he challenged Cruz, a Republican, in mostly conservative Texas, but he quickly demonstrated an ability to draw capacity crowds and raise money from voters nationwide.
His Senate bid generated a torrent of media attention and excited voters in a party desperate for fresh political faces.
He lost the race by less than 3 percentage points, the tightest Senate contest in the state in four decades.
Early opinion polls on the 2020 race have consistently ranked O’Rourke in the top tier of contenders, behind former Vice President Joe Biden, who has not yet said whether he is running, and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.