WASHINGTON — Forces loyal to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders are waging an increasingly public war against Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, the new darling of Democratic activists, as the two men weigh whether to seek the party's presidential nomination in 2020.
The main line of attack against O'Rourke is that he isn't progressive enough — that he's been too close to Republicans in Congress, too close to corporate donors and not willing enough to use his star power to help fellow Democrats — and it is being pushed almost exclusively by Sanders supporters online and in print.
It's been the first flashpoint in what promises to be a politically bloody primary — one that has drawn responses from foot soldiers in the Obama and Clinton wings of the party — as Democrats begin to focus on who has the best chance to deny President Donald Trump a second term in the Oval Office.
Nomiki Konst, a progressive activist and 2016 Sanders supporter who is now running for public advocate in New York City, said liberal activists mostly kept quiet about their concerns over O'Rourke's record, including the backing he got from the centrist Blue Dog Democrats, before he lost a Texas Senate race to Republican Ted Cruz in November.
"They sucked it up while he was running" because they wanted him to win, Konst said. "But now it’s a different story."
The biggest difference may be that O'Rourke is now a threat to Sanders in the 2020 primary. Though neither man has announced whether he will run, O'Rourke captured the hearts and dollars of veteran Democratic activists, donors of all ages and millennial political newcomers across Texas and the nation in his Senate run.
"I think this week can be understood as a kind of turning point, where — for the first time really — millions of Americans are seeing pieces that look underneath the superficial gloss of projections onto Beto," said Norman Solomon, who was a delegate for Sanders at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
"What we’re seeing is someone who’s a big step up for red-state Texas statewide and actually a big step down for where the majority of Democrats are nationwide. ... If we buy the Beto package, we’re gonna have buyer’s remorse later on." ...
Read full story at NBC