Beto O’Rourke has dropped out of the 2020 presidential race.
“Our campaign has always been about seeing clearly, speaking honestly, and acting decisively,” O’Rourke said on Twitter Friday. “In that spirit: I am announcing that my service to the country will not be as a candidate or as the nominee.
In a blog post explaining his decision, O’Rourke said dropping out now “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.”
The former Texas congressman struggled to distinguish himself in a crowded Democratic field. Polling averages suggested waning national enthusiasm for O’Rourke’s presidential ambitions, as the candidate fell from a high-water mark of 9.5 percent in April to the low single digits by mid-August.
The polling figures and dwindling fundraising were nevertheless enough to qualify O’Rourke for the third round of Democratic debates, held in mid-September.
In mid-August, the Houston Chronicle encouraged O’Rourke to do so, publishing an editorial titled “Beto, come home. Texas needs you.” The paper applauded his outspoken and forthright response to a mass shooting at a Walmart in his hometown of El Paso.
At the time, O’Rourke had “paused” his national campaign to return to the mourning city. While other candidates tiptoed around the link between President Trump’s rhetoric and a sharp increase in racist violence, O’Rourke flatly placed the blame at Trump’s feet and called him a white supremacist.
Trump “is a racist, and he stokes racism in this country,” O’Rourke told an ABC reporter. “It does not just offend our sensibilities; it fundamentally changes the character of this country and it leads to violence.”
That frank diagnosis heartened the Chronicle’s editorial board:
We aren’t used to seeing candidates act like real people.
Frankly, it’s made us wish O’Rourke would shift gears, and rather than unpause his presidential campaign, we’d like to see him take a new direction.
So Beto, if you’re listening: Come home. Drop out of the race for president and come back to Texas to run for senator. The chances of winning the race you’re in now are vanishingly small. And Texas needs you.
Should he decide to try and unseat incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R), he’ll enter the primary race with immediate fundraising and name-recognition advantages over Democratic rivals.