Beto O'Rourke isn't running for Senate, says he's "made a decision" about future

By Caroline Linton

/ CBS News

Reporting by Ed O'Keefe and Jack Turman

Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke will not be running for Senate in 2020, multiple people familiar with his plans told CBS News. People not authorized to speak on the record passed along a statement from O'Rourke saying, "Amy and I have made a decision about how we can best serve our country. We are excited to share it with everyone soon."

O'Rourke's 2020 plans have left much of the political world in suspense. The three-term congressman from El Paso challenged Sen. Ted Cruz for his seat in 2018, shattering fundraising records and getting national attention despite eventually falling short in the election. The unexpectedly close race — he lost by just three percentage points — in deep-red Texas and the national headlines led to 2020 speculation.

But O'Rourke told "60 Minutes" just days before Election Day that "win or lose, I'm not — I'm not running in, in 2020." He changed his answer within weeks of Election Day, and he told Oprah Winfrey earlier in February that he would make a decision by the end of the month.

It's unclear when he will publicly announce that decision. A documentary called "Running with Beto" about O'Rourke's Senate bid will premiere in March at South by Southwest in Austin and will air on HBO in the spring, the cable network said earlier this month.

Beto O'Rourke at Texas rally: "Walls do not save lives, walls end lives"

There had also been some speculation that instead of a presidential run, O'Rourke could challenge Sen. John Cornyn in his bid for a fourth term. Politico reported earlier this month O'Rourke met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to discuss another Senate run.

Cornyn, 67, is considered less vulnerable than Cruz was, having served in the Senate since 2002 and amassing an eight-figure campaign war chest thanks in part to his previous role as the second-ranking Senate Republican. For now, he appears to have warded off a potential primary challenge given that President Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — once seen as a potential conservative opponent — have all endorsed his re-election.

Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke seen Feb. 11, 2019. Getty

There are a number of other Texas Democrats who could be contenders for the seat, including Rep. Joaquin Castro, a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee whose twin brother, Julian, is currently running for president. He is strongly considering a campaign, according to multiple people familiar with his plans.

Spotted Wednesday night in the Rayburn House Office Building, Castro declined to comment on the record about his political future.

Other potential contenders include M.J. Hegar, an Air Force veteran who ran an unsuccessful congressional campaign last year; Wendy Davis, a former state legislator who ran an unsuccessful gubernatorial bid in 2014; and Michael Sorrell, president of Paul Quinn College.

First published on February 27, 2019 / 8:53 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Beto O'Rourke

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