Politics

What’s Next for Beto O’Rourke?

He ruled out a 2020 bid before he lost the Senate race

Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks during a campaign rally at the Gaslight Baker Theatre in Lockhart, Texas, in October. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrat Beto O’Rourke pledged to keep to keep working for Texans in his concession speech on Tuesday after losing his bid for the Senate to Republican Ted Cruz.

“What I pledged on behalf of all of us is that in this time of division, with the country as polarized as I can remember it in my life, all of this bitterness, if there is anything we can do to help him in his position of public trust to ensure that Texas helps lead the country in a way that brings us back together around big things we want to achieve…I want to work with him,” he said of his conversation with Cruz in conceding the race.

The three-term congressman gave up his House seat to run for the Senate. O’Rourke, 46, has said his next step will not be running for president.

“Win or lose, I’m not— I’m not running in, in 2020. I got to tell you, it’s incredibly flattering that anyone would ask me the question or that that’s even up for discussion. But, but since people have asked, the answer’s no,” he told CBS on Sunday.

He doubled down on that statement on Election Night.

“This team of which we are all members in some way is going to stay together and continue to aspire to do great things. It may be in individual races, in individual communities. It may not have anything to do with politics,” he said to the crowd in El Paso. His dropped an f-bomb in telling supporters how proud he was of them.

But, the momentum and national attention he gained in the few months leading up to the election still leaves plenty of room for speculation about what he might do next.

O’Rourke raised $70 million — TIME traced where all the donations came from.

The Democrat raised so much money that Democrats suggested he give some of it to other candidates and causes before he closed the polling gap between himself and Cruz. A Quinnipiac University poll last week showed Cruz with a 5-point edge over O’Rourke.

His campaign was focused on liberal messages about health care, immigration and education and progressive members of the House congratulated him on his fight.

Before his election to Congress, O’Rourke worked at several Internet startups in New York and in 1998 started an Internet services company in Texas. In 2005, at age 32, he won his first election that sent him to the city council.

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