Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke is dropping out of the presidential race.
O’Rourke, who had a strongly pro-LGBTQ record and a history of support for other progressive causes, had failed to catch on in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination despite having his national profile raised by nearly beating homophobic Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in Texas’s U.S. Senate race last year.
In a New York Times/Siena College poll released Friday, for instance, O’Rourke had the support of just 1 percent of likely Iowa caucusgoers. And his campaign raised significant funds when he declared his candidacy but has been spending more than it’s been taking in, the Times reports.
“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 Friday on Medium. “My service to the country will not be as a candidate or as the nominee. 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.”
He did not immediately throw his support to any other candidate. “We will work to ensure that the Democratic nominee is successful in defeating Donald Trump in 2020,” he wrote. “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. And proud to call them President in January 2021, because they will win.”
He does not plan to run for Senate again, an aide said. Texas’s other U.S. senator, Republican John Cornyn, is up for reelection in 2020. “Beto will not be a candidate for U.S. Senate in Texas in 2020,” spokesman Rob Friedlander told the Times.
O’Rourke had a record of support for LGBTQ rights going back to his time as a member of the El Paso City Council. In 2009, before most states offered equal marriage rights, he successfully pushed for the city to offer benefits to employees’ domestic partners, whether same-sex or opposite-sex. He received high scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s Congressional Scorecard in his three terms in the U.S. House, and he spoke out supportively on LGBTQ issues during his Senate campaign.
In June, he released a platform of pro-LGBTQ actions he promised to take as president. These actions included reversing the Trump administration’s many homophobic and transphobic policies, working with Congress to pass the Equality Act, and campaigning for LGBTQ equality around the world.
His piece on Medium mentioned the positions his campaign had taken on numerous issues, including gun control, health care, the environment, and immigration. “We released the first comprehensive plan to confront climate change of any of the presidential candidates; we took the boldest approach to gun safety in American history; we confronted institutional, systemic racism and called out Donald Trump for his white supremacy and the violence that he’s encouraged against communities that don’t look like, pray like or love like the majority in this country,” he wrote.
Of his fellow Democratic presidential aspirants, he added, “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.”