Nov. 5, 2019 — Former US Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) ended his presidential campaign Friday, joining Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), ex-Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, US Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) as 2020 national contenders who are no longer in the race.
O’Rourke’s concession statement made reference to departing because he no longer possesses adequate resources with which to compete. Beginning as a top tier candidate with a strong financial base, his effort rapidly crumbled largely due to ill-advised comments, poor debate performance, and calling for assault weapon confiscation, which did not reinvigorate his campaign as he expected. O’Rourke had hoped to use the latter issue to begin cracking into the party’s far-left faction that Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) seemingly have cornered.
Democratic leaders had from the outset attempted to persuade O’Rourke to challenge Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) instead of running for president, but they were ignored. In his statement announcing the end of his national campaign, the former congressman addressed the speculation that he might return to Texas to challenge Cornyn, but again ruled out running for that office or any other in 2020.
How does the Democratic race change now that O’Rourke has departed? Largely, his move could be a precursor of many more exits to come. At this point, it is clear three candidates occupy the top tier and separation exists between them and the rest of the pack. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Warren and Sanders maintain the top three positions in virtually every poll, and it is reasonable to expect that one of them will eventually become the Democratic nominee.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has recently made a resurgence after lagging in single digits since the second nationally televised debate in July. Concentrating on fundraising and organization, Buttigieg’s efforts have proven worthwhile. Raising $19.1 million just in the third quarter, placing him behind only Sanders ($25.3 million raised in Quarter 3) and Warren ($24.6 million) during that period, the mid-size city mayor has brought in over $51.5 million since the onset of his presidential campaign.