After making a splash in a rousing but ultimately unsuccessful run for Senate against Ted Cruz last year, O'Rourke has ended intense speculation by confirming he will run in 2020.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on March 14, 2019

O’Rourke confirmed his candidacy in a text message to a television station in his native El Paso, Texas.

Beto O’Rourke set to end speculation and declare for 2020

UPDATE:“I’m really proud of what El Paso did and what El Paso represents,” O Rourke told the KTSM news channel.

“It’s a big part of why I’m running. This city is the best example of this country at its best.”

O’Rourke reportedly plans to formally announce he is running on Thursday local time via his social media accounts.

Speculation about his future had reached fever pitch following a Vanity Fair cover story where he gave his strongest hint yet he would take part in the crowded 2020 presidential nomination campaign.

“You can probably tell that I want to run,” he said in the story. “I do. I think I’d be good at it.

“Man, I’m just born to be in it, and want to do everything I humanly can for this country at this moment.”

After launching his 2020 bid, O’Rourke is set to head to the key battleground of Iowa for three days of campaigning.

What are O’Rourke’s chances in 2020?

Despite being a complete unknown this time last year, early polling has shown O’Rourke is already among the preferred candidates among likely Democrat caucusgoers. His ability to raise funds and mobilise voters in Texas, traditionally a Republican stronghold, propelled him to national headlines and had some speculating about his potential as a 2020 candidate.

On CNN’s Democratic Candidate Power Rankings, O’Rourke ranks third behind California Senator Kamala Harris and Joe Biden, who is yet to confirm he will run.

The data analysis site FiveThirtyEight concluded he was a top-tier candidate based on favourability ratings, fundraising ability and virality in Google searches. It summed up O’Rourke as “a good prospect, but not necessarily someone who has established himself in the big leagues, as Sanders has”.

The latter point touches on the biggest challenge for O’Rourke; proving that his youthful and charismatic style will translate to the intense scrutiny of a presidential nomination race.

An op-ed piece in Slate, published just before O’Rourke’s candidacy was confirmed, said he was too vague and indecisive to be a worthwhile candidate. Written by Josh Voorhees, it charged the Texan with being “easily excited by possible solutions but frustratingly slow to choose which one he thinks is best.”

Most betting agencies have O’Rourke’s chances of securing the party’s nomination for 2020 behind Biden, Sanders and, in some cases, Harris. Donald Trump is at shorter odds than any of the Democrat candidates.