Former US Rep. Beto O’Rourke is headed to Iowa this weekend.
O’Rourke and his team shot a video released Monday to promote an Iowa Democrat running in a state Senate special election and O’Rourke will go to the state this weekend to participate in a get-out-the-vote event.
The moves suggest O’Rourke is ramping up for a presidential bid, including his first trip to Iowa as a candidate or prospective candidate.
“Our campaign and @BetoORourke look forward to getting out the #PantherVote and seeing you on Saturday,” Democrat candidate Eric Giddens tweeted Monday evening.
CNN reported earlier on Monday that O’Rourke and his team have been in discussions for O’Rourke to make the video and knock on doors for Giddens in the northeast Iowa district this weekend, according to multiple state Democratic sources.
“Supporting (Giddens) 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, released on Monday evening. “It’s the only way to ensure that you’ve done everything you possibly can for this country, when she needs you the most.”
O’Rourke is not the only presidential hopeful bringing his star power to campaign for Giddens, who is running against Republican Walt Rogers. Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Cory Booker of New Jersey also are slated to knock on doors for Giddens this weekend.
O’Rourke’s video for Giddens focuses on getting out the vote among students at the University of Northern Iowa. Two days of on-campus voting will kick off Tuesday; Election Day is March 19.
The video was produced with help from Norm Sterzenbach, a veteran Iowa Democratic operative who until recently was a contractor advising the state party on the caucuses. He is no longer working in that role, Iowa Democratic Party Chairman Troy Price told CNN.
“I can confirm that we ended his contract with us when he told us he was intending to work for a campaign,” Price said.
Sterzenbach’s departure sparked speculation that he might join O’Rourke’s campaign.
Paul Tewes, who was Barack Obama’s 2008 Iowa state director, has also been advising O’Rourke in Iowa, a source familiar with his role said. Sterzenbach and multiple advisers close to O’Rourke did not respond to requests for comment.
In a statement to CNN and other news outlets last month, O’Rourke said, “Amy and I have made a decision about how we can best serve our country. We are excited to share it with everyone soon.”
All signs since have pointed to moving forward with a campaign for president. O’Rourke’s team recently teased his upcoming “big announcement” in emails to supporters, and he has been building out a national campaign staff, CNN previously reported.
Following the premiere of an HBO documentary chronicling his unsuccessful 2018 US Senate campaign, “Running with Beto,” at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, this past weekend, O’Rourke deflected a question about his 2020 plans by praising local candidates featured in the film.
“There are so many candidacies, so many leaders, who we got to be a part of this amazing thing in Texas over the last two years, and it continues, and we are so excited,” he said. “We just want to continue to be a part of it.”
This story has been updated.