House Democrat on O'Rourke: 'I wouldn't count him out yet'

Rep. Sean MaloneySean Patrick MaloneyThree NRA board members resign from organization Trump Jr., Guilfoyle raise .5 million on California swing for Trump campaign House Democrat on O'Rourke: 'I wouldn't count him out yet' MORE (D-N.Y.) on Friday stood by his early endorsement of Beto O’Rourke in the Democratic presidential race, saying he doesn’t think anyone should count the former Texas congressman out just yet.

Maloney, who backed O’Rourke just hours after he launched his campaign in March, said in an interview with Hill.TV that he believes O’Rourke is well-positioned to represent the party as a whole, even if polling suggests otherwise.

“There is essentially a lane here for somebody who is not the [former] vice president, who represents a new generation and who can represent the whole coalition of the Democratic Party,” Maloney said, referring to the race's current frontrunner, Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NY Times story sparks new firestorm over Kavanaugh Top Sanders adviser: 'He is a little bit angry' Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 MORE.

“I wouldn’t count him out yet,” he added. 

Maloney maintained that O’Rourke is the right choice to take on President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE in the 2020 election and would make an "outstanding president," citing his personal experience working alongside the former Texas congressman during his six years in the House.

“I know him as a close friend, I know his family, I know what’s in his heart,” he told Hill.TV. “He’s decent, he’s honest, he’s in this for the right reasons.”

O’Rourke has been lagging in national polls over the last few months.

An NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey released on Thursday found that just 2 percent of likely primary voters would support O’Rourke. The Texas congressman was among a handful of Democratic candidates in the crowded primary field to receive support from more than 1 percent of voters in the survey.

Biden and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Hill's 12:30 Report: NY Times story sparks new firestorm over Kavanaugh Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 Warren proposes new restrictions, taxes on lobbying MORE (D-Mass.), meanwhile, topped the poll by a sizable margin.

According to the poll, 26 percent of likely primary voters support Biden, compared to 19 percent who support Warren. Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisChamber of Commerce argues against Democratic proposals for financial transaction taxes Warren proposes new restrictions, taxes on lobbying Five top 2020 Democrats haven't committed to MSNBC climate forum MORE (D-Calif.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersChamber of Commerce argues against Democratic proposals for financial transaction taxes Top Sanders adviser: 'He is a little bit angry' Working Families Party endorses Warren after backing Sanders in 2016 MORE (I-Vt.) tied for third place at 13 percent. 

—Tess Bonn