Beto O'Rourke plans Iowa trip as 2020 announcement nears

Texas Tribune News

Beto O'Rourke and his wife Amy Sanders O'Rourke walk onto the stage to address his supporters after losing to Ted Cruz in the 2018 midterm elections,
Beto O’Rourke and his wife Amy Sanders O’Rourke walk onto the stage to address his supporters after losing to Ted Cruz in the 2018 midterm elections,
Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

Beto O’Rourke, on the verge of a presidential campaign, is heading to Iowa.

The former El Paso congressman is set to visit the crucial early voting state this weekend to campaign for Eric Giddens, the Democratic candidate in a special election for an Iowa Senate seat. O’Rourke will knock on doors for Gidden on Saturday, likely in Waterloo, according to an Iowa Democrat involved in the race.

On Monday evening, Giddens tweeted a video from O’Rourke aimed at University of Northern Iowa students, reminding them that Wednesday is the last day to vote early on campus in the special election. “Supporting him for state Senate is the way that we get Iowa — and by extension, this country — back on the right track,” O’Rourke says in the video as he walks through an El Paso neighborhood wearing a “Northern Iowa” hat.

The trip will mark O’Rourke’s first to the Hawkeye State as a potential White House contender. He has traveled the country since his closer-than-expected loss to U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in November but has not visited any of the traditional early voting states.

O’Rourke said two weeks ago that he had made a decision about a 2020 run and would share it with supporters soon. The build-up continued over the weekend in Austin, where O’Rourke stayed mum about the timing of the announcement while appearing at the South by Southwest festival.

Giddens is on the ballot next Tuesday to replace a Democratic senator who resigned last month in Iowa’s Senate District 30, which covers the northeastern part of the state. O’Rourke is not the only name in the 2020 mix coming to Giddens’ aid — U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, a declared candidate, is also visiting SD-30 this weekend.