Beto O'Rourke hits the road again with 2020 decision looming

The former Democratic congressman and U.S. Senate candidate from Texas is making stops this weekend in Wisconsin and Illinois.

Beto O'Rourke is expected to announce a decision this month about whether he's running for president.
Beto O'Rourke is expected to announce a decision this month about whether he's running for president.  Ivan Pierre Aguirre for The Texas Tribune

Beto O'Rourke is on the road again as he nears a decision on whether to enter the 2020 presidential race.

The former Democratic congressman from El Paso who ran for U.S. Senate in 2018 has at least two appearances scheduled this weekend across the Midwest. On Friday evening, he will visit the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he will hold a meet-and-greet with students and faculty. And on Saturday afternoon, he will speak at the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute National Conference in Chicago.

The swing through the region appears to be O'Rourke's first major travel outside Texas since his solo road trip last month through parts of the Southwest. Since then, O'Rourke has said he will make a 2020 decision by the end of the month.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether O’Rourke was approaching the Midwest trip the same way he did his previous one — traveling alone by car and blogging along the way. But the Midwestern stops will undoubtedly further stoke speculation about his 2020 plans, which are the subject of even more interest after his starring role in protests of President Donald Trump’s visit to El Paso on Monday.

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The event at UW-Madison, hosted by the Political Science Student Association, is for students and faculty only. It is nonetheless notable, as it takes O'Rourke to a presidential battleground state that Donald Trump carried in 2016. Another Democrat in the 2020 mix, declared candidate and Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, is starting a swing through the state Saturday.

At the USHLI conference in Chicago, O’Rourke is the featured speaker at a luncheon honoring three Democratic lawmakers: U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva of Arizona, U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico and former U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois.

The conference will also feature remarks Friday by Julián Castro, the Texas Democrat who is already a 2020 candidate. He is the keynote speaker at a luncheon recognizing his mother, the Mexican-American civil rights activist Rosie Castro.