After his narrow loss to Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the conventional wisdom was that Beto O’Rourke would have a bigger and brighter future ahead of him. He still likely has one, but does that future include a successful presidential run in 2020? More and more, signs are pointing to slipping support for the former Texas Congressman.
Beto started out the race somewhere in the second tier of candidates while raising a boatload of money. He sits below heavyweights like Bernie and Biden, but somewhere within the field on par with Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren.
Then came Pete Buttigieg, the unknown mayor from South Bend, Indiana, who managed to muscle his way to the same level in the timespan of a few short weeks. On paper, Beto and Buttigieg share a lot in common. They both fit the bill for the “younger” and “fresher” Democratic Party candidate. They’re both white men, despite Beto’s narrative and name offering the appearance of a Latino background.
In an article out on Monday, The Hill is asked whether Pete Buttigieg is stealing Beto’s thunder:
Both candidates are seeking to convince Democrats that the party needs a generational change as they chase former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who are both in their 70s.
The polls have been largely steady in recent weeks for all the 2020 contenders except for Buttigieg, who has seen a notable rise and now ranks third in several polls, though behind Biden and Sanders.
Buttigieg has effectively caught O’Rourke to establish himself firmly in the second tier of contenders, along with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
There was a time when national Democrats seemed deeply captivated by O’Rourke, who captured the imagination of liberals with his improbable run for Senate in deep-red Texas last year.
O’Rourke carried that momentum into his presidential launch, raising $6 million in the 24 hours after entering the race.
But there has been no subsequent bounce in the polls for O’Rourke, who has faced questions about why he’s running and what he stands for.
O’Rourke was a great candidate in Texas, perhaps the ideal Texas Democrat to run in a statewide Senate race against an unpopular incumbent. Since languishing over an announcement, he’s been unable to capture a true reason for his Presidential run other than the fact that this course of action naturally presented itself.
The comparison between Beto O’Rourke and Barack Obama were being made during his Senate run last year. However, the new candidate being compared to Obama in the presidential race is not Beto, it’s Buttigieg.
The ironic point to make here is that both men have prior experience which doesn’t usually lend itself well to White House ascension. Pete Buttigieg is a mayor, while O’Rourke was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Senators and Governors typically stand better shots at taking the White House, Donald Trump notwithstanding. The point is that regardless of the makeup of the 2020 Democratic field, O’Rourke and Buttigieg will have a harder time making the case for their candidacies than Kamala Harris will have as a Senator.
Despite Buttigieg’s early rise in the polls and rampant attention, not everyone is sold that he can carry the mantle in 2020:
“I think he is an impressive young man who may become a significant leader of the Democratic Party in the future,” said Douglas Dunham, a top Obama-Biden bundler who is not backing anyone yet. “He seems, however, likely too young to persuade enough Democratic primary voters to support him to become the party’s nominee against Trump. He also appears to lack minority support, which is often critical for winning the Democratic nomination.”
The decision for Democrats is whether they want to send someone young and hip to battle Donald Trump, or someone experienced and, frankly, boring to battle Donald Trump. Beto and Buttigieg would stand toward the young and hip end of the spectrum, with Joe Biden firmly holding down the experienced segment.
Perhaps the ticket will be made up of all those attributes combined. Biden-Buttigieg, Biden-O’Rourke, or Biden-Sanders? Sanders-Buttigieg? Harris-O’Rourke? Buttigieg-Warren? Or, none of the above?