Democrats scramble to follow Beto O’Rourke into presidential campaign

Six weeks after declaring for the 2020 presidential race, Beto O’Rourke is riding high.

The former U.S. representative from Texas has flown from campaign to campaign and a dominant lead in Democratic polls has him virtually guaranteed to emerge from the weekend in Iowa. Yet while he’s basking in the glow of his initial foray into politics, some people in his home state are seizing the moment to launch a campaign of their own.

The list of like-minded individuals and organizations isn’t particularly long. It seems to include Laura Moser, the former liberal radio host who unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Roger Williams in Texas’ 18th congressional district in 2016.

Moser has already made headlines by airing her criticism of O’Rourke’s campaign strategy, tweeting that she wasn’t voting for the “movement candidate” unless it was “clear” that he would “actually have the power to do anything.”

When people asked her on Twitter why she wasn’t voting for O’Rourke this year, she had a simple message: “You lost twice. No means no!”

Since then, several Democratic operatives and groups have formed PACs to support Moser’s bid for the Democratic nomination and, as of Monday, Moser said that she would soon be announcing her candidacy as a challenger to U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Dallas.

Last week, seven Democratic women living in the Houston area formed Women’s Power PAC, which will “support Democrats in order to increase the number of women in local, state and federal offices,” according to its website. One of the founders of the PAC, Shannon Winters, was the congressional chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., and is working on an effort to unseat U.S. Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, the Dallas Morning News reported.

In the Houston suburbs, Teresa Berger, a Democrat, is creating A Texas Woman’s Place with the goal of “standing up for Texas women’s experiences, resources and rights.” The group will “foster policies that protect the health, safety and civil rights of women and children,” according to its website.

A trio of Houston progressive women — Gwen Robertson, Josie Alvarez and Robin Sherman — launched Texas Women: Who’s On Your Side, an organization to “support candidates who support policies that are inclusive of all women and promote equality and diversity in public life,” according to a press release announcing the group. The organizers also said the group will “directly support candidates running for office, raise money for those candidates, and raise public awareness around issues that impact women in Texas.”

On Saturday, Phil Lawler, a Democrat and member of Harris County’s Board of Supervisors, launched the Bic, Texas, Campaign for Beto. Lawler, who unsuccessfully ran for a board seat in 2014, hopes to represent a board district that will incorporate parts of Houston and southeast Harris County.

“I’m excited that we’re in the process of merging two huge portions of Harris County,” Lawler told the Houston Chronicle. “We’ve got very talented people. We’ve got a lot of good candidates. I think it’s a place where the biggest challenge has been to get candidates and people excited about it.”

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