Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke speaks during the “March for Truth” against President Donald Trump, in El Paso, Texas, on February 11, 2019 (Paul Ratje)

Washington (AFP) – Beto O’Rourke, the affable former congressman who rose to political stardom last year when he nearly ousted a Republican senator in traditionally conservative Texas, reportedly said Wednesday he is running for president.

The 46-year-old Democrat confirmed to local station KTSM that he is seeking his party’s nomination for the 2020 presidential race, and will make the announcement Thursday morning, the television broadcaster in O’Rourke’s home town of El Paso reported.

“I’m really proud of what El Paso did and what El Paso represents,” O’Rourke said according to the station.

“It’s a big part of why I’m running. This city is the best example of this country at its best.”

O’Rourke has been discussed as a potential candidate ever since his unexpectedly tight race against Senator Ted Cruz, when his grassroots campaign of inclusion and getting people politically involved gained national attention.

Should he dive in on Thursday, he will be entering a crowded pool of Democrats seeking to oust Republican President Donald Trump.

They include several US senators: Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, and the leader among the current candidates, liberal powerhouse Bernie Sanders.

And if O’Rourke declares his candidacy, the last main piece of the 2020 election puzzle will be former vice president Joe Biden, who has said he will reveal his political plans soon.

O’Rourke, a former punk musician who sometimes went skateboarding to blow off steam on the Texas campaign trail, may quickly achieve rockstar status if he runs.

But that will come with intensifying scrutiny from the media, Democratic power brokers and donors, as well as voters.

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