Beto O’Rourke, the Texas Democrat who narrowly lost the 2018 Senate election to Republican Ted Cruz and later entered the presidential race, is ending his bid for the Democratic nomination for president.
“Though it is difficult to accept, it is clear to me now that this campaign does not have the means to move forward successfully,” O’Rourke wrote in a Medium post titled ‘Thank You.’ “My service to the country will not be as a candidate or as the nominee.”
O’Rourke said acknowledging that his campaign won’t be succesful is in the best interests of those working on his campaign, the country and the Democratic party as it seeks to unify around a nominee.
Addressing supporters in Iowa, O’Rourke said that while his campaign was ending, he planned to stay active in the fight to defeat President Donald Trump. “I will be part of this and so will you,” he said.
A former U.S. congressman from El Paso, O’Rourke left the House to run for Senate in 2018. His insurgent campaign against Cruz in Texas gained him an impressive national profile. In his Senate run, he raised a record $80 million from donors across the country, visited every county in Texas and used social media and livestreaming video to engage directly with voters. He ultimately lost to Cruz by 3 percentage points.
But O’Rourke, 47, struggled to replicate that model in the presidential primary, and both his polling and his fundraising dwindled significantly in recent months.
O’Rourke announced his bid for the presidency in March. His announcement was accompanied by a glowing profile in Vanity Fair where he was quoted as saying “I’m just born to be in it.” O’Rourke was criticized for the quote —which some thought displayed a sense of entitlement and privilege — and he later attempted to explain his words as meaning that he felt his calling was in public service and not that anyone is born to be president.
Despite his high-profile stature as a candidate, O’Rourke never gained much traction in the polls. According to Politico, he was at risk for not qualifying for the November debate.
He spent several weeks trying to build his campaign around climate change, calling global warming the greatest existential threat the country had ever faced. But as the excitement over his candidacy began to fade, O’Rourke was forced to stage a “reintroduction” of his campaign to reinvigorate it. After a gunman opened fire at a Walmart in his hometown of El Paso, killing 22 people, O’Rourke more heavily embraced gun control, saying he would take assault weapons away from existing owners.
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Reporting and writing from The Associated Press was used in this report.