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Beto O’Rourke in talks with strategists ahead of likely 2020 bid

Beto O’Rourke in talks with strategists ahead of likely 2020 bid

Beto O’Rourke is in talks with Democratic strategists about a likely 2020 presidential run, according to two sources.
Two Democratic campaign strategists told POLITICO on Friday that they are in discussions with O’Rourke and his team. One of the strategists described those conversations as moving to “an operational level” after weeks of discussing 2020 in more theoretical terms.
A source close to O’Rourke said Friday that the former Texas congressman is still considering a run and has not yet made a final decision.
O’Rourke’s advisers had been speaking with Democratic strategists for months about a potential campaign, but only at a relatively abstract level. O’Rourke said last month that any discussions that his former advisers were having with potential operatives were not at his direction.
But after a massive rally in his hometown of El Paso this week, O’Rourke is now becoming personally involved in discussions about the shape of a 2020 campaign, the strategists said.
O’Rourke became a Democratic sensation during his closer-than-expected Texas Senate run last year. He has said he will decide whether to run for president by the end of February, and he has appeared to tilt closer to a run in recent days.
On Monday, O’Rourke drew thousands of supporters to the march and rally in El Paso to protest President Donald Trump’s call for funding a border wall. He appeared Thursday on MSNBC to discuss border politics. And on Friday, O’Rourke used his Senate campaign account to email supporters a preview of his recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, which airs on Saturday.
Meanwhile, O’Rourke is traveling in the Midwest. He is expected to visit privately with students at University of Wisconsin, Madison today, before speaking Saturday at a national conference of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute.
Julián Castro, the former San Antonio mayor and Obama Cabinet secretary who has already declared for president, is also scheduled to speak at that event.
O’Rourke’s outreach to potential campaign staffers is coming relatively late in the 2020 presidential cycle, and O’Rourke has frustrated Democrats in some early nominating states by not returning telephone calls or invitations to appear in those states.
More established Democratic contenders, including Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have been courting staffers and activists for months, leaving O’Rourke at an organizational disadvantage.
Still, O’Rourke controls a potent email list from which to raise money, and many Democratic strategists held off committing to a 2020 contender until O’Rourke decided whether to run.