Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Thursday that he will not run for president in 2020, writing in the Des Moines Register that he hopes former Democratic Rep. Beto O'Rourke runs instead.
O'Malley, who ran for the Democratic nomination in 2016 and spent the last two years traveling the country for Democrats, writes that he was impressed with O'Rourke's failed Senate bid in 2018, calling it a "courageous" campaign that "brought people together in Texas" and "sparked imaginations all across our country."
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"I believe we need new leadership to make that future a reality," O'Malley writes. "And, I believe the new leader who can best bring us together and turn us around to create that better American future, is Beto O'Rourke."
Despite O'Rourke's loss in his run for Senate to Republican Ted Cruz, his youth and ability to compete in a red state has captivated some Democratic voters, vaulting him above some longtime Democratic heavyweights in early polls. O'Rourke has publicly left the door open to a 2020 run.
O'Malley ran a longshot bid in 2016 and eventually failed to break through a Democratic primary field dominated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
O'Malley also argued in the Des Moines Register that voters in 2016 were motivated by anger and not in the mood for new leadership. That has changed, the former governor writes.
"We were in a mood of anger, rage and retribution. And in this mood, Donald Trump's candidacy rose. It was good for ratings, and good for the Russians; but, bad for America. And, we got what we got," he wrote. "But now, there is a different mood in our nation. People are looking for a new leader who can bring us together."
O'Malley's decision to urge O'Rourke to run could be seen as a slight to Rep. Eric Swalwell, who is also considering a 2020 bid and was in Iowa in December. Swalwell, a Democrat from California, was the only member of Congress to endorse O'Malley when he ran for president in 2016.
Swalwell did not respond to a request for comment.