Beto O'Rourke is in talks with Democratic strategists about a likely presidential run in 2020, according to two sources.
Two Democratic campaign strategists told POLITICO on Friday that they were discussing with O'Rourke and his team. One of the strategists called these talks "moving to an operational level" after weeks of talks on 2020 in more theoretical terms.
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A source close to O'Rourke said on Friday that the former Texas congressman was still considering running and had not made a final decision yet.
O'Rourke's advisers had been talking to Democratic strategists for months about a potential campaign, but only at a relatively abstract level. O'Rourke said last month that all the discussions his former advisers had with potential agents were not under his direction.
But after a massive rally in his hometown of El Paso this week, O'Rourke is personally engaging in talks on the shape of a 2020 campaign, strategists said.
O'Rourke became a Democratic sensation during his run to the Texas Senate, closer than expected last year. He announced that he would decide to run for president by the end of February. It seems to have come closer to a race in recent days.
On Monday, O'Rourke gathered thousands of supporters and demonstrated in El Paso to protest President Donald Trump's call for funding a border wall. He appeared Thursday on MSNBC to discuss border policy. And on Friday, O'Rourke used his campaign account in the Senate to email his fans an overview of his recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, broadcast on Saturday.
Meanwhile, O'Rourke travels to the Midwest. He is expected to speak privately with students at the University of Wisconsin in Madison before speaking Saturday at a national conference of the American Institute of Hispanic Leadership.
Julian Castro, former mayor of San Antonio and secretary of the Obama Cabinet who has already declared his candidacy for the presidency, must also speak at this event.
O'Rourke's contacts with potential campaign staff come relatively late in the 2020 presidential cycle, and O'Rourke frustrated the democrats of the first nominating states by not sending phone calls or invitations to appear in those states.
More established democrat contenders, including Sens. California's Kamala Harris, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts have been calling for employees and activists for months, leaving O'Rourke at a disadvantage at the organizational level.
O 'Rourke nevertheless controls a powerful email list for fundraising, and many Democratic strategists have been slow to commit to a competitor from 2020 until O Rourke decides to introduce himself or not.