Beto O’Rourke is dropping out of the presidential race, a surprising move from the former U.S. Senate candidate from Texas who was once considered among the frontrunners to land the Democratic nomination. “Our campaign has always been about seeing clearly, speaking honestly, and acting decisively,” O’Rourke wrote on Twitter. “In that spirit: I am announcing that my service to the country will not be as a candidate or as the nominee.”
Our campaign has always been about seeing clearly, speaking honestly, and acting decisively.
In that spirit: I am announcing that my service to the country will not be as a candidate or as the nominee. https://t.co/8jrBPGuX4t
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) November 1, 2019
In a Medium post explaining his decision, O’Rourke wrote that leaving the race is “difficult to accept” but that it is “clear to me now that this campaign does not have the means to move forward successfully.” At the time of his announcement, O’Rourke was averaging 2.0 percent in Democratic primary polls, according to RealClearPolitics. This put him well behind the frontrunners, but above several notable candidates still in the race, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and billionaire Tom Steyer. Unlike those three candidates, however, O’Rourke had yet to qualify for the November debate.
Though he struggled in the polls throughout the summer, O’Rourke’s was widely praised for how he responded to the shooting that left 22 people dead in an El Paso Walmart in early August. He skipped out on the Iowa State Fair to remain in El Paso to be with the victims and their families, and subsequently refashioned his campaign around gun control. In announcing the end of his campaign on Friday, he wrote on Medium that he “took the boldest approach to gun safety in American history,” a reference to his proposed mandatory buyback of assault weapons.
Ultimately, though, O’Rourke was never able to recapture the energy that turned him into a national phenomenon as he was vying for Ted Cruz’s Senate seat in 2018. After announcing his candidacy with a Vanity Fair cover story in March, he was never able to differentiate himself from a crowded field of candidates. He made his respect for those still in the race clear in his announcement on Friday.
“I can tell you firsthand from having the chance to know the candidates, we will be well served by any one of them, and I’m going to be proud to support whoever that nominee is,” he wrote. “We must support them in the race against Donald Trump and support them in their administration afterwards, do all that we can to help them heal a wounded country and bring us together in meeting the greatest set of challenges we have ever known.”
Though many in the party attempted to convince O’Rourke to drop out of the race and take a run at Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) seat in 2020, O’Rourke is not expected to run for any other office. In October, he told Politico he “could not fathom” another scenario in which he would run for anything else should he not win the Democratic nomination. This doesn’t mean he’s giving up fighting for the causes that inspired his recent campaigns.
“Let us continue to fearlessly champion the issues and causes that brought us together,” he wrote on Medium. “Whether it is ending the epidemic of gun violence or dismantling structural racism or successfully confronting climate change before it is too late, we will continue to organize and mobilize and act in the best interests of America.”
This story has been updated.