Politics

Beto O’Rourke Quits the Presidential Race

Beto O'Rourke encourages voters in Dallas in November 2018.
Beto O'Rourke encourages voters in Dallas in November 2018. Brian Maschino
Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke is done running for president. Friday afternoon, the former U.S. representative from El Paso, stuck polling in the low single digits, said that his campaign couldn't win the Democratic nomination because of a lack of resources.

O'Rourke did not endorse one of his Democratic competitors, nor did he announce any plans to run for another office. Throughout his presidential campaign, O'Rourke faced opposition from those who believed he could better serve the Democratic Party by running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent John Cornyn, rather than seeking the nation's highest office.

"Though it is difficult to accept, it is clear to me now that this campaign does not have the means to move forward successfully. My service to the country will not be as a candidate or as the nominee." — Beto O'Rourke

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"Though it is difficult to accept, it is clear to me now that this campaign does not have the means to move forward successfully. My service to the country will not be as a candidate or as the nominee," O'Rourke said via his favorite emotional outlet, a blog post on Medium. "Acknowledging this now is in the best interests of those in the campaign; it is in the best interests of this party as we seek to unify around a nominee; and it is in the best interests of the country."

On the heels of a star-making 2018 Senate run against Sen. Ted Cruz, O'Rourke jumped into the presidential pool with a big splash, appearing on the cover of Vanity Fair. He popped in initial polls, climbing as high as the mid-double digits in national surveys, but saw his numbers crater as he struggled to recapture the appeal that got him to within 3.5 points of Cruz.

Rather than sticking to his pragmatist bona fides, O'Rourke strayed to the left, sometimes even to the left of his Democratic rivals, proposing mandatory national buybacks for assault weapons and revoking the tax-exempt status of American churches that refuse to support same-sex marriage.

"A lot of the things that made Beto an attractive candidate against Ted Cruz in 2018, he's discarding by the side of the road as he travels through Iowa and New Hampshire," Mark Jones, a Rice University political scientist, told the Observer as O'Rourke's campaign floundered in June. "The idea of being pragmatic and a centrist — the vote on the 'Thin Blue Line Act,' 'I was wrong, I shouldn't have voted with the police,' his position on pipelines, 'I was wrong, I shouldn't have voted with the energy industry.' He's renouncing all the policies that made him a credible centrist for positions on the left. I think the Beto magic is probably gone."
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young