DES MOINES, Iowa -- Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke is planning a series of stops in Iowa beginning Thursday as he nears an announcement on a 2020 White House bid.
O'Rourke, a former congressman, is set to make stops in Burlington, along the Mississippi River in southeast Iowa, and Dubuque, to the north, during his three days in Iowa, according to two people familiar with the plans.
They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to disclose details of the plans.
A spokesman said Monday that O'Rourke planned to visit the University of Northern Iowa on Saturday to campaign for Eric Giddens, the Democratic candidate running in a state Senate special election this month. O'Rourke released a video Monday night from Texas, announcing his support for Giddens and wearing a University of Northern Iowa cap.
The additional stops in Iowa, host of the first caucuses of the 2020 presidential nominating campaign, have the look of an early presidential visit.
O'Rourke plans to headline a party at the house of Dubuque County Recorder John Murphy on Saturday evening.
"When they show up here, we know why. And it's not for the climate," said Dubuque County Democratic Chairman Steve Drahozal. "It seems to me to be indicative of someone with presidential aspirations."
O'Rourke, who lost a close U.S. Senate race in Texas in November to Republican incumbent Ted Cruz, had previously declined to accept invitations to visit Democrats in Iowa, New Hampshire and other early nominating states and hasn't yet made major staffing moves in those places.
He says he's decided on 2020 but has provided no further details except that he'll make his plans known soon.
This story has been corrected to show John Murphy is Dubuque County recorder, not its treasurer.