Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke dropped out of the 2020 presidential race on Friday after a disappointing campaign that failed to build off the momentum generated from his longshot Texas Senate run.
"Though today we are suspending this campaign, let us each continue our commitment to the country in whatever capacity we can," he wrote in an email to supporters.
Lagging in the polls and with fundraising, O'Rourke had yet to qualify for the Nov. 20 debate sponsored by MSNBC and The Washington Post.
O'Rourke's Iowa state director Norm Strzenbach told NBC News he he did not know the campaign would be ending Friday and in fact the campaign had just announced a big push in the first-in-the-nation voting state.
President Donald Trump quickly mocked O'Rourke on Twitter.
O’Rourke, who represented El Paso in Congress, entered the race as one of the most talked-about candidates following his narrow loss to Sen. Ted Cruz in deeply conservative Texas in 2018. After that defeat, Democratic activists in states that hold early presidential voting contests, including Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina, formed "Draft Beto" groups, which raised money and tried to line up supporters for a potential 2020 bid.
Despite the initial jolt of interest from voters and the media, his campaign failed to find footing following debate performances that were highly critiqued and consistent struggles to crack double digits in polls.
O'Rourke repeatedly rejected pleas — including from The Houston Chronicle's editorial board — for him to drop out of the presidential race and run again for the Senate in Texas against Sen. John Cornyn. His aides have said he does not intend to run for the Senate.
Beto I'm sure will have no problem keeping his House district for another term or two, but it'll be 2024 before he gets a second shot at Ted Cruz's seat. By then, he might be able to win. WHat I'm mad about is him wasting everyone's time with a quixotic 2020 run for the WHite House when he could have tried for Sen. John Cornyn's seat instead.
But you know what? There's an even better Democrat running for Cornyn's seat, and that's MJ Hegar.
Still, Beto will continue to be a much-needed voice in the House. If that's all he chooses to be, that's still a bonus for Democrats as long as he can do the job.