DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Democrats and political experts believe it’s becoming more likely former El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s will run for President.
As supporters await O’Rourke’s pending announcement, SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson said O’Rourke can’t wait much longer.READ MORE: US Supreme Court To Consider Controversial Texas Abortion Law
“He needs to get in,” said Jillson. “The hamlet act of him driving around the midwest, we’ll tell you before too long is wearing a little bit old and his polling shows he’s doing fine in Texas but he’s not outstripping the field.”
Jillson believes O’Rourke is gearing up for a run for the White House because of his recent high profile activities: doing an interview with Oprah Winfrey, holding a competing rally to the one held by President Donald Trump in El Paso on the same night and his recent visits to midwestern states.
Jillson said, “It’s very difficult when the camera turns on you and people speculate about you running for President not to do it because you don’t know that the opportunity is ever going to come again. So it’ll be hard for him to pass up.”
O’Rourke, who came close to defeating Senator Ted Cruz in November, issued a statement Wednesday. “Amy and I have made a decision about how we can best serve our country. We are excited to share it with everyone soon.”
No word yet when that announcement will come.
The Dallas Morning News reported Wednesday their sources told them O’Rourke wouldn’t run for Senate against the Republican incumbent, John Cornyn next year.
Jillson said he agrees because if O’Rourke were to run for Senate, he wouldn’t have made political stops in other states.
A new poll released by Quinnipiac Thursday shows O’Rourke trails the President in a hypothetical matchup by one point in Texas, 47-46 percent.
President Trump leads former Vice-President Joe Biden, who’s also considering running for President, 47-46 percent as well.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders trails the President by two points, 47-45 percent.
If O’Rourke enters the race, he would become the second Texas Democrat.
Julian Castro, former San Antonio Mayor and HUD Secretary for President Barack Obama, kicked off his campaign for the White House in January.READ MORE: Texas Mother And Son Arrested In Wyoming For Murder In Oklahoma
The poll shows President Trump would beat Castro in Texas if the election were held today, 46-41 percent.
While O’Rourke is holding his own against the President, some national polls show he is running fourth in the Democratic primary and in the single digits.
Yet Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Carol Donovan says she’s excited because she believes O’Rourke will jump into Presidential race. “Beto adds an entirely new dimension as somebody who just finished running. He really got everyone excited about running. Beto had a pied piper effect on people who had not previously voted and it really came through.”
Dallas County Republican Party Chair Missy Shorey says they’re ready to take on O’Rourke and all the Democratic candidates. “His record will be revealed regardless of what he runs for and we Republicans are ready for it. 2020 will be a showdown on socialism and we Republicans will take the fight to them. We’re very clear, we’re running on a record of amazing job growth and opportunity.”
While Jillson and others believe O’Rourke won’t be running for Senate, the Quinnipiac poll shows him tied with Cornyn, 46-46 percent.
Jillson said he thought O’Rourke would have a better chance of winning the Texas Senate seat than the White House. “My idea was he ought to run for Senate and the polling shows he’s tied with Cornyn and that’s a lot better than he started in the Cruz race so he had an opportunity to be very competitive again.”
But Shorey said she doesn’t think O’Rourke could beat Cornyn.
Three other Democrats’ names are being mentioned to run against Cornyn: San Antonio Congressman Joaquin Castro, Julian’s twin brother, MJ Hegar, who ran unsuccessfully against Republican Congressman John Carter, and former Democratic State Senator and candidate for Governor, Wendy Davis.
A spokesman for Davis said, “Wendy Davis is currently heavily involved in her nonprofit, Deeds Not Words, but has previously talked about her desire to serve her community in elected office again. She is looking at her options and hasn’t ruled anything out.”
A campaign advisor for Joaquin Castro issued a statement Friday morning. “Congressman Castro will seriously consider running for Senate in 2020. Right now, he’s focused on protecting Texans — and all Americans — from the most consequential challenge to our constitutional separation of powers that we have seen in a generation. He will not stand by while the President attempts to unilaterally strip Texans of their land to build a wall in a manner that most Americans, especially Texans, disagree with.”
CBS 11 News reached out to Hegar, but didn’t hear back.
Senator Cornyn’s campaign did not respond to our request for a comment either.
Privately, some Democrats believe Cornyn would be more challenging for a Democrat to beat than Cruz because the state’s senior Senator’s unfavorable ratings are lower than Cruz’s.
The Quinnipiac poll shows Cornyn has a 43%-26% job approval rating, while Cruz has a 51-40% job approval rating.
The poll surveyed 1,222 Texans between February 20-25th and has a 3.4% margin of error.