Bernie Sanders officially challenges Beto O'Rourke to the battle of the small-money donors

Bernie Sanders.
(Image credit: Sean Rayford / Stringer/ Getty Images)

2020 Democrats may have found their common enemy — and it's not President Trump.

Last week, former congressmember and Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke joined the wide field of Democrats aiming for the presidency. But instead of Trump using O'Rourke's increasingly popular name to rile up his fans, it was actually fellow Democrats who started shoving "Beto" into their fundraising email subject lines.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was one of the first Democrats to welcome O'Rourke into the race, firing off a very kind email complete with an exclamation point. But she quickly pivoted, pointing out that "more candidates" could easily mean less support for her, so you should donate and show "you're with Elizabeth." Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was a little more blunt, pointedly naming O'Rourke when she said she wanted to "engag[e] in substantive debates" with the extra-large 2020 pool and using just O'Rourke's name in the subject line.

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Yet it was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who had the harshest dig, acknowledging in a Monday email that yes, O'Rourke crushed Sanders' 24-hour fundraising record. But you know what, "we more than likely had a lot more individual donations than he did," Sanders' email sassily continued.

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Even if Democrats aren't necessarily pointing out O'Rourke as an enemy, it's pretty clear using his name as a subject line gets clicks, New York Magazine's Gabriel Debenedetti points out. And of course, throwing an extra layer of drama into the fundraising scramble doesn't hurt either.

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