The Democrats' 2020 presidential field already has several senators, a couple of governors, a couple of mayors, a former cabinet secretary, and as of this morning, a former congressman by the name of Beto O'Rourke.
The 46-year-old former congressman from El Paso has captivated some in the party with his skateboarding, adventurous road trips shared on social media, and crossover appeal to both moderates and progressives.
In a video announcing his decision, released at 6 a.m. ET, O'Rourke said: "The only way for us to live up to the promise of America is to give it our all and to give it for all of us."
He added: "This is a defining moment of truth for this country, and for every single one of us. The challenges that we face right now; the interconnected crises in our economy, our democracy, and our climate have never been greater. And they will either consume us or they will afford us the greatest opportunity to unleash the genius of the United States of America."
When the Texan launched his U.S. Senate campaign ahead of the 2018 cycle, he looked like a longshot against incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in a reliably red state. But O'Rourke proved to be an adept candidate, who inspired a small army of supporters, and who very nearly upset the Republican senator.
To be sure, presidential candidates generally don't parlay failed Senate campaigns into successful presidential bids. It has, however, happened once before: Abraham Lincoln had a fairly brief career in the U.S. House, lost a Senate race in 1858, and was elected president two years later.
That said, I'd caution against too many O'Rouke-Lincoln comparisons. My point is to emphasize the historical rarity of the career trajectory, not to put the Texan in the same category as ol' Abe.
Ordinarily, when a candidate enters a presidential race, I have certain reflexive reactions. I'll put on my pundit hat and start drawing conclusions about whether his or her campaign is sensible or foolhardy, likely to succeed or fail, driven by a compelling vision or a misguided fantasy.
But with Beto, in all candor, I'm just not sure what to think.