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Three Reasons Beto Is the Democrats’ Candidate to Beat in 2020

Beto O'Rourke at texas democratic convention

Former Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke (D-TX) has been meeting with former President Barack Obama. A meeting of these two minds makes a great deal of sense. In Obama, the Democrats found a blank slate candidate on whom voters could project their wishes and dreams and he won two terms. In O’Rourke, the Democrats may have found the answer to their struggles in Texas. And if they can even become competitive in Texas, national politics will shift in the Democrats’ favor. Democrats see 2020 as an opportunity to topple President Trump.

Two years is a long time in politics, but at the same time it’s no time at all. The 2020 primaries are just over a year away. Any serious candidate for president in 2020 must be laying the groundwork now if they have not already started. They must be looking at building campaign staff, and they must have money in the bank or proven access to money.

How much money? The 2016 election cost an estimated $6.5 billion according to OpenSecrets. About $2.5 billion of that was spent on the presidential primaries and election, with the balance spent on congressional and other down ballot elections. The Trump and Clinton campaigns did not spend $2.5 billion by themselves – outside PACs and groups spent fortunes of their own. But the point is, it costs a whopping amount to run for president.

Presumably the Republicans will not have a primary contest. Unless Roger Stone is right, President Donald Trump runs for re-election. But the Democrats’ field is wide open. They have no dominant candidates at the level of governor, and below that are a host of senators and other luminaries who, to be frank, do not make up a deep or formidable bench. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) is a far-left candidate with little appeal beyond the party’s socialist wing and a limited regional appeal. Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Sen. Hillary Clinton are re-treads now and a year from now that’s unlikely to change. Former Gov. Phil Bredesen (TN) lost his bid for Senate in Tennessee, limiting his appeal. His name ID is also probably prohibitively low outside his state.

All of this leads to now former Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke of Texas. Like Bredesen, he lost his bid for Senate against Republican incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz. But there’s more to his loss than meets the eye. Here are three reasons O’Rourke makes a strong candidate for the Democrats in 2020.

No record, no problem

The last Democratic president had no record to run on. In the Illinois state Senate, and then during his brief career in the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama was a back-bencher who voted “present” when he could and avoided taking risks at every turn. He even mocked his own thin record when, upon entering the Senate, he was first asked about running for president. But that lack of record, combined with lofty, unifying rhetoric and a strong data campaign, and his racial background, allowed voters to pour their hopes into Obama’s candidacy. They did, and he won twice.