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 SandersSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Top adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' MORE, [Sen.] Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Top adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' MORE (D-Mass.), and [Sen.] Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisSenate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Top adviser on Sanders: 'He's always been underestimated' 'The Simpsons' pokes fun at Trump's feud with 'the squad' 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 CruzGOP strategist predicts Biden will win nomination, cites fundraising strength 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters 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 Obama'Forever war' slogans short-circuit the scrutiny required of national security choices Which Democrat can beat Trump? Middle East scholars blame Trump for an Iran policy 40 years in the making 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 EscobarCongressional Hispanic Caucus calls for answers on Mississippi ICE raids Consoler in Chief like Biden is the perfect antidote to a Divider in Chief like Trump Democratic senator on possibility of Trump standing up to the NRA: 'That's just such BS' 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