U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat and ex-punk rocker who pulled a stunning upset to win his House seat six years ago, plans to declare his candidacy on Friday for the Senate seat held by Ted Cruz, according to Democratic sources in Texas.
O’Rourke’s fledgling campaign scheduled “a big announcement” on Friday in El Paso, his hometown. He has traveled heavily in Texas over the last three months making contacts, barely concealing his political plans.
“I’m very moved to do it,” O’Rourke, 44, said in an interview earlier this month, adding that he had reached an “emotional decision” about the race.
O’Rourke sent out a message to supporters that they can expect a “big announcement” on Friday, which most expect to be the Senate run.
Ted Cruz was on the outs with some in and around Republican Texas politics over his arms length distance from Donald Trump at and shortly following the GOP convention in Cleveland, OH last year. There was talk that Republican Congressman Mike McCaul might launch a primary challenge for the nomination. Cruz’s subsequent full throated support for Trump eased that talk and the two eventually co-authored an op-ed together ending the speculation.
In 2012 Cruz survived a primary and runoff against Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and easily defeated Democrat Paul Sadler in the general election.
O’Rourke has represented the state’s 16th congressional district (El Paso County) since 2012. It’s an overwhelmingly Democratic district with O’Rourke running unopposed by any Republican in 2016.
Cruz’s status as one of the most outspoken conservatives in the country and the Democrats long term hopes of reclaiming a foothold in the Lone Star State may get activists excited about this race. However given the number of seats the Democrats have to defend, especially in GOP friendly states (starting with the 10 they hold that Trump won), it’s likely this race will draw plenty of media chatter but not an equal amount of resources from national Democrats.