Beto O’Rourke’s exit sets a good example

Stuart Lombard

Beto O’Rourke officially ended his campaign for the Democratic nomination for president on Friday, Nov. 1. He was consistently in the top five Democratic hopefuls, and his sudden exit from the race makes one thing very clear for me: if O’Rourke dropped out, everyone below him in the polls should be going out too.
In the wake of the 2018 midterm elections, O’Rourke was the golden child of the Democratic party. Although he lost his race against incumbent Texas senator Ted Cruz, he showed the country that Texas was not as safe of a Republican stronghold as people thought.
Within days of the elections, pundits were drawing parallels between O’Rourke and Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln lost his race for the Senate, only to win the presidency.
On March 14, 2019, O’Rourke announced his candidacy for president. While he never reached the top of the polls, he had many good moments. After the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, O’Rourke returned to his home district and became one of the faces of the campaign for stricter gun laws.
There was a wonderful moment during the September 2019 presidential debate when O’Rourke said “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15 [and] your AK-47.”
However, despite his good moments, he failed to reach the top echelons of the polls, and an October Fox News poll showed O’Rourke polling at just two percent nationally.
Even still, it came as a slight shock when O’Rourke announced he was ending his campaign for the presidency. With only three months before the Iowa caucus, he must have realized that his chances were nil for skyrocketing to the top. Why is the Democratic Primary battle still so crowded? If O’Rourke just dropped out, why have those polling below him not done so?
It is time for the field to shrink. The Democrats’ overall success in 2020 depends on the pooling of resources and votes. The candidates polling graciously at one percent need to realize that they would be better serving the goals of their party to drop out now and run for Senate seats.
A Democratic president will be hard pressed to accomplish anything if Mitch McConnell is still leading the Senate. The Democratic party needs as many strong candidates for the Senate as possible, and it is better to start campaigning early.
In 2020, a Senate seat in Texas is on the ballot. Julian Castro or O’Rourke could give Republican incumbent John Cornyn a strong fight. The majority of Senate seats up for election in 2020 have Republican incumbents. If the Democratic party wants to take control, they must put up the strongest candidates sooner rather than later.
We have not seen the last of O’Rourke. Other Democratic hopefuls ought to follow his lead in order to have a chance at future greatness.