Beto O'Rourke says he's decided his 2020 plans — but isn't ready to announce them yet

The former El Paso congressman and 2018 U.S. Senate candidate ruled out running against U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. Whether he'll make a White House bid is still unknown.

"I'm not going to give a date certain but hope to be able to say something pretty soon," Beto O'Rourke told The Texas Tribune on Wednesday.
"I'm not going to give a date certain but hope to be able to say something pretty soon," Beto O'Rourke told The Texas Tribune on Wednesday.  Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

Beto O'Rourke has made a decision about 2020 — and he is not running for U.S. Senate again.

A person familiar with his thinking told The Texas Tribune on Wednesday that the former El Paso congressman will not challenge U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas after O'Rourke's closer-than-expected loss last year to the state's junior senator, Ted Cruz. Since then, O'Rourke has been more prominently considering a presidential run, and he has said he would have a decision about 2020 by the end of the month — Thursday.

He said in a statement Wednesday that he has reached that decision and would announce it soon. Later in the day during an appearance in El Paso, he continued to keep under wraps what his plans are — and when he will make them public.

"I'm not going to give a date certain but hope to be able to say something pretty soon," he told The Texas Tribune. "I want to announce to everyone at the same time."

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The Dallas Morning News first reported Wednesday that O'Rourke would not take on Cornyn, and the newspaper was first to publish O'Rourke's statement. It comes about three weeks after O'Rourke first unveiled his timeline for a 2020 decision, saying in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he hoped to have his mind made up by the end of the month.

O'Rourke's decision not to challenge Cornyn comes after weeks of declining to rule it out amid encouragement from some Democrats who saw it as a more winnable race for him than the White House contest. However, O'Rourke had been long viewed as more seriously mulling a White House run than another Senate campaign. He never publicly said he was specifically considering a Senate run — something he has said about a presidential bid.

"Am I the best person to lead this country?" O'Rourke said during a recent visit to a college class in El Paso. "Beyond my ego and my ambition … what is the best thing for the United States of America? And in thinking through that, and in suspending your ego in that process, is tough. And so I’m in that process of thinking this through, talking to [my wife] Amy, listening to good friends and then hearing what you all have to say right now."

O'Rourke reportedly met earlier this month with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., about a possible Cornyn challenge — a meeting that Cornyn alluded to as he reacted to news of O'Rourke's decision Wednesday evening.

"Looks like Schumer couldn't close the deal," Cornyn tweeted.

Julián Aguilar contributed to this report.

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