O'Malley says he won't run for president in 2020, backs O'Rourke

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) quashed speculation on Thursday of a possible bid for the White House in 2020, and encouraged outgoing Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) to take up a campaign for the Democratic nomination.

In an op-ed published by the Des Moines Register, O’Malley said bluntly that he “will not be running for president in 2020,” but expressed hope that O’Rourke, who rose to national prominence last year during his unsuccessful Senate bid against Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzPoll shows competitive matchup if O’Rourke ran for Senate again Democrats veer left as Trump cements hold on Republicans O’Rourke heading to Wisconsin amid 2020 speculation MORE (R-Texas), would.

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“In his courageous run for U.S. Senate in Texas, O’Rourke ran a disciplined and principled campaign that also managed to be raw, authentic, and real,” O’Malley wrote. “He spoke to the American values of honesty, compassion for one another, and courage in the face of a rapidly changing future.”

“These are the values which tell us where America is headed. And with these values, O’Rourke very nearly defeated the incumbent senator and Republican runner-up for president – in Texas.”

O’Malley’s op-ed threw cold water on speculation that he could mount a second bid for the presidency, after his 2016 campaign for the Democratic nomination failed to gain traction. He dropped out of that race after a disappointing finish in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses.

Since then, he’s spent considerable time campaigning on behalf of Democratic candidates nationwide, fueling chatter that a second presidential run could be in his future.

But despite efforts to grow his national profile, O’Malley has largely failed to gain the kind of prominence that prospective candidates, like O’Rourke or former Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBill Maher to Dems: ‘Let’s not eat our own’ in 2020 Newsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Trump, Biden in dead heat in hypothetical 2020 matchup among Texas voters MORE, have. That would likely make it difficult to compete in what is expected to be a crowded Democratic primary field in 2020.

In an email to supporters on Thursday, O’Malley said he had determined that his “usefulness as a candidate for President has passed.”

“I’m proud of the substance and vision we put forward in 2016 and the record of progress from 15 years of executive experience, but – after all we have been through as a nation – America is looking for a candidacy newer than I can offer,” he wrote.

O’Rourke has not yet announced a decision on a White House bid. But the outgoing congressman has said that he’s contemplating his political future after his narrow loss to Cruz in deep-red Texas in November.

That race gave O’Rourke a sort-of rockstar status among Democrats and underscored his immense fundraising power. He raised a record-shattering $80 million during his Senate campaign — an astonishing haul made up in no small part by small-dollar donations.

A recent Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa poll of likely caucusgoers in the Hawkeye State put O’Rourke in third place among potential Democratic candidates, after Biden and Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bernie Sanders records announcement video ahead of possible 2020 bid Bill Maher to Dems: ‘Let’s not eat our own’ in 2020 MORE (I-Vt.).

O’Malley praised O’Rourke in the Thursday op-ed, saying that he represents a “new generation” of leadership capable of tackling issues like climate change and immigration reform.

"Like so many other Americans, I believe we need new leadership to make that future a reality. And, I believe the new leader who can best bring us together and turn us around to create that better American future, is Beto O’Rourke."