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 SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersDemocratic Socialists of America endorses Sanders for president Trump on 2020 Dems skipping AIPAC: 'I think they're anti-Jewish' The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game MORE, [Sen.] Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTrump on 2020 Dems skipping AIPAC: 'I think they're anti-Jewish' The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game 2020 Dems avoid this year's AIPAC conference MORE (D-Mass.), and [Sen.] Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisCNN town halls put network at center of Dem primary Trump on 2020 Dems skipping AIPAC: 'I think they're anti-Jewish' The Hill's Morning Report — Washington readies for Mueller end game 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 CruzCNN town halls put network at center of Dem primary The Memo: Trump can't let go of McCain grudge Michael Bennet 'encouraged' in possible presidential bid: report 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 ObamaJennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez's engagement win Obama's endorsement Pence lobbies anti-Trump donors to support reelection: report The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump attacks on McCain rattle GOP senators 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 EscobarOn The Money: Trump issues first veto, warning of 'reckless' resolution | US hits Russia with new sanctions | Dems renew push for contractor back pay | Lawmakers seek probe into undocumented workers at Trump businesses Hispanic Caucus demands probe into Trump Organization hiring undocumented workers O'Rourke nabs 2020 endorsement from his successor in Congress 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