What is it about former Texas Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke that is making a certain segment of Democrats lose their minds? Is it his Gen X interest in skateboarding? His former indie rock star status? His toothy grin?
We certainly don’t know, but whatever magic O’Rourke wields, it has entranced 2016 Democratic presidential primary failure Martin O’Malley and his former team, according to the Washington Post.
Last week, O’Malley wrote an op-ed for the Des Moines Register calling O’Rourke “the new leader who can bring us together,” and apparently his former campaign staff agree. According to the Post, two of them, consultant Tyler Jones and former legislator Boyd Brown, have now joined the team at DraftBeto.org, which is dedicated to pushing the former representative and failed Senate candidate to run. Michael Soneff, a former communications adviser at the Nevada Democratic Party, has also joined.
But all of these people, passionate as they are, do not yet have an endorsement from one essential part of the team: O’Rourke himself. Rather than working with the potential candidate, they have begun organizing his campaign without him.
Brown told the Post that he had “traded a couple of texts” with O’Rourke, but had not confirmed that he was interested in running. O’Rourke’s spokesperson said he was not in contact with DraftBeto.
That hasn’t stopped the DraftBeto team from moving forward. They have allegedly been interviewing Iowa operatives to begin a campaign effort there.
“I have got experience building campaign structure in South Carolina, and if I need to hand it off, I will hand it off,” Brown told the Post. “We are taking a shot in the dark here.”
Right now, DraftBeto is holding onto money they raise in hopes of giving it to the O’Rourke team if he does run.
From the Post:
The current Draft Beto effort differs from the [other draft efforts] in that all the fundraising so far has been for an ActBlue account that will be held in escrow and then delivered to O’Rourke’s campaign should he decide to run.
One of the group’s founders, Nate Lerner, said he has so far paid the only expenses — about $1,500 — out of his own pocket. The group, which began in mid-December, has so far raised about $15,000 from 300 people, with about 5,000 email sign-ups, Lerner said.
“The Beto campaign isn’t secretly pulling the strings behind the scenes,” he added.
Yes, that’s because the Beto campaign doesn’t exist.
A poll by CNN from mid-December showed O’Rourke with a 25 percent approval rating, compared to 51 percent for Bernie Sanders and 54 percent for Joe Biden. But 38 percent of voters polled hadn’t heard of O’Rourke at all, putting him just ahead of Cory Booker and Kamala Harris.
Despite progressive misgivings about his record, the political establishment’s enthusiasm for O’Rourke could make him a potentially strong primary candidate (hopefully stronger than O’Malley, for his sake). But no one has any idea if that’s actually going to happen yet. Oh well, better keep giving him money anyway!