O’Rourke has ‘significant advantage’ over other 2020 Dem contenders, says GOP strategist

Republican strategist Mattie Duppler on Wednesday said that Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) has a “significant advantage” over other candidates running for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 presidential election because he will no longer be an elected politician.

“Beto has a significant advantage in the sense that he will no longer be an elected politician, so [Sen. Bernie] Sanders (I-Vt.) and the rest of the bench, all of these senators running for president in 2020, they actually have to take hard votes, they have to keep the government open, they have to fund priorities that may not be in line with the progressive platform,” Duppler, founder and president of Forward Strategies, told Hill.TV’s Buck Sexton and Jamal Simmons on “Rising.”

Duppler added that O’Rourke could be a particularly strong alternative to potential progressive candidates like Sanders. 

“Republicans, we always had this issue with each person running for president want to be more conservative than the other conservative — Beto will be the most progressive guy out there because he won’t have to take any votes that Bernie SandersBernie SandersButtigieg defends appearing on Fox News: Many Americans don't hear Dems' message Buttigieg: The future 'is personal' for me Donald Trump, president for life? We need term limits now MORE, [Sen.] Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenButtigieg jokes about holding town hall same night as 'Game of Thrones' finale Buttigieg defends appearing on Fox News: Many Americans don't hear Dems' message Warren offers to help Twitter user with her love life MORE (D-Mass.), and [Sen.] Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisButtigieg defends appearing on Fox News: Many Americans don't hear Dems' message De Blasio pitches himself as tough New Yorker who can take on 'Don the con' Buttigieg condemns 'voices on Fox' for spreading 'fear' and 'lies' ahead of town hall appearance MORE (D-Calif.) may have to take,” she said.

O’Rourke grabbed national attention this year in his long-shot bid to unseat incumbent Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz Eye-popping number of Dems: I can beat Trump 'SleepyCreepy Joe' and 'Crazy Bernie': Trump seeks to define 2020 Dems with insults The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Restrictive state abortion laws ignite fiery 2020 debate MORE (R-Texas) in a state that hasn’t elected a Democrat in a statewide office in more than two decades.

The El Paso congressman’s ability to rally the state’s Democratic base, and draw thousands of supporters to his platform has drawn comparisons to former President Obama. 

“That ability to make people feel invested in his campaign and his story does remind me of Obama ‘08,” said Obama’s former speechwriter David Litt.

Duppler said she doesn’t blame Democrats for getting excited about O’Rourke’s potential presidential bid, citing that unlike many of the other Democratic candidates, the El Paso congressman offers a fresh face to the Democratic ticket.

“I think Beto has all of those characteristics of Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaPelosi receives John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Romney: Trump 'has distanced himself from some of the best qualities of the human character' Biden calls for unity, jabs at Trump in campaign launch MORE where he’s young, enthusiastic, a new shot in the arm, especially when you’re looking at people like Bernie Sanders,” she said.

But the Republican strategist emphasized that there’s one key difference between Obama and O’Rourke: Obama won his senate race before winning the Democratic nomination in 2008.

Duppler said time will tell whether Beto’s unsuccessful Senate bid will be a “liability or an asset for president in 2020.”

O’Rourke is currently serving his last term representing Texas' 16th Congressional District and is set to be replaced by former El Paso county judge Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarOvernight Energy: Dems press Interior chief to embrace climate action | Lawmakers at odds on how to regulate chemicals in water | Warren releases climate plan for military Warren releases plan to tackle climate change threats to military Top Dem money man puts muscle behind Latino mobilization MORE (D) in January.

Despite repeatedly rejecting the notion throughout his Senate campaign, O’Rourke said Monday that he isn’t ruling out a potential 2020 presidential run.

— Tess Bonn