Former President Barack Obama has yet to endorse insurgent Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, and, well, O’Rourke is fine with that. In fact, O’Rourke’s team hasn’t even asked for one, according to a report on Thursday.
“I don’t think we’re interested [in an endorsement],” Beto O’Rourke said after a town hall at a local high school. “I am so grateful to him for his service, he’s going to go down as one of the greatest presidents. And yet, this [election] is on Texas.”
Still, Obama’s lack of endorsement seems strange, considering how much attention has been focused on O’Rourke, who’s polling just a few points behind Sen. Ted Cruz. In his latest round of endorsements, Obama endorsed New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another progressive media darling whose November win is all but assured, as well as nine other congressional or state candidates (including Veronica Escobar, O’Rourke’s successor in Texas’s 16th District).
Part of O’Rourke’s nonchalance might come from the fact that Obama snubbed him the last time he ran for office, and also from the fact that he already has Willie Nelson’s endorsement. As the Tribune reported:
O’Rourke said his campaign didn’t reach out to the Obama camp for an endorsement and added that he’s been down this road before. When he ran what was considered his underdog 2012 campaign to defeat former U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the incumbent received nods from Obama and former president Bill Clinton.
It didn’t work then, O’Rourke said.
“Bill Clinton fills up the county coliseum and a screaming El Paso Times front page headline [said] “President urges El Paso to stick with Reyes,” he said. “And we won. And what that drove home for me is that someone else’s popularity is not transferable to a given candidate.”
It reads as a little bit of shade, which is probably justified after 2012. The ball’s in Obama’s court here — it would seem obvious for the former president to endorse a wildly popular progressive candidate in one of the most exciting Senate races in a hotly contested midterm election, but who knows? He does kinda suck at not being President.