‘I will not in any scenario’ run for Senate
WASHINGTON – Beto O’Rourke has once again said he will not drop out of the 2020 presidential race to run for the Senate instead.
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell asked the former Texas congressman Thursday evening if he had December 9 marked on his calendar, as it’s “the last day you can file in the Senate Democratic primary in Texas.”
“Let me make your show the place where I tell you and I tell the country I will not in any scenario run for the United States Senate,” O’Rourke responded. “I’m running for president. I’m running for this country. I’m taking this fight directly to Donald Trump, and that is what I am exclusively focused on doing right now.”
Last year, O’Rourke ran for Senate against Sen. Ted Cruz, where he gained national attention by ending up in a tight battle against the Republican incumbent in traditionally conservative Texas.
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Cruz won re-election against O’Rourke by less than 3 percentage points, a margin that shocked pundits. O’Rouke’s contest against Cruz also helped flip several suburbs in Dallas and Houston that usually vote Republican.
Polls have shown that Democratic voters in Texas would like O’Rourke to run for Senate again, this time against GOP incumbent Sen. John Cornyn. However, O’Rourke has given no indication that he might set aside his Oval Office aspirations and try to unseat Cornyn instead.
Most recently, the Houston Chronicle’s editorial board called for O’Rourke to drop out of the 2020 presidential race and run against Cornyn. His campaign pushed back against the board’s editorial that had called on O’Rourke to “come home” and challenge Cornyn because “the chances of winning the race you’re in now are vanishingly small.”
When O’Rourke first announced his presidential candidacy in late March, he dominated headlines. At the time, he raised $6.1 million in the first 24 hours of his campaign.
However, he has since slumped in both polling and fundraising. O’Rourke raised only $3.6 million in the second quarter of this year. He will be on the debate stage in September despite falling in polling and fundraising.
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On Thursday morning, O’Rourke gave his first speech since pausing his 2020 campaign following a deadly mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, that apparently targeted Latinos and left 22 dead. In the speech, O’Rourke rejected the idea that he would run for Senate.
“That would not be good enough for this community. That would not be good enough for El Paso. That would not be good enough for this country,” he said.
O’Rourke is not the only 2020 Democrat who has faced questions about whether he should be running for the Senate instead.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock told NBC News that he under no circumstance would run for Senate. Bullock has struggled to gain traction in the crowded Democratic primary field of more than 20 candidates. Although he reached the threshold to make the second Democratic debate, Bullock has not yet met the criteria to make the third debate in September.
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Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper dropped out of the presidential race Thursday and said he is giving “serious thought” to running for a Senate seat in Colorado.
Hickenlooper also had a hard time standing out among the many 2020 Democrats and meeting donor and polling thresholds for the debates. Several Democratic leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, called on Hickenlooper to run for Senate against Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, who is considered vulnerable in next year’s election.
In a video posted announcing the end of his presidential bid, Hickenlooper said that he has “heard from so many in Colorado who want me to run to the United States Senate.”
“They remind me how much is at stake for our country and our state. I intend to give that some serious thought,” he said. “I’ve been a geologist, small businessman, mayor, governor, candidate for the president of the United States. At each step, I’ve always looked forward with hope, and I always will.”
Contributing: Jason Lalljee and Aamer Madhani
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