Former U.S. congressman and gun control advocate Beto O’Rourke has said he’ll keep his face out of the race for the Texas House of Representatives.
O’Rourke’s comments come following a memo from the state Democratic committee telling candidates not to respond to a reporter’s question about accepting endorsements from the failed presidential candidate.
“If my presence is unhelpful, I’ll stay as far away as I can,” O’Rourke told the Dallas Morning News. “I have no pride in this. My only goal is to help secure a Democratic majority in the statehouse. My only goal is to stop Trump and Trumpism in what I think is the most important year in the history of this country and to do my part.”
Just last month, O’Rourke voiced his support for the eventual losing candidate in a Jan. 28 special election.
Despite O’Rourke stressing the election’s importance to winning the state house and building a “team to defeat Trump in Texas,” Republican Gary Gates won the state legislative seat by 16 points over Democrat Eliz Markowitz.
O’Rourke’s unsuccessful boosterism apparently prompted an Associated Press reporter to ask some candidates if they would accept his help in this year’s general election.
“Our recommendation is to provide no comment,” Texas Democratic Party Political Director Justin Perez wrote to candidates in an email obtained by The Dallas Morning News.
O’Rourke’s assistance was seen by many as key to Markowitz’s chances in capturing the 28th district, a region centered on Bend County in the Houston metropolitan area.
O’Rourke was a three-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the El Paso area. He was praised by some pundits after he unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Republican Ted Cruz for his U.S. Senate seat in 2018. O’Rourke lost by nearly 3 percentage points but was hailed as an up-and-coming star in the Democratic Party.
His once promising presidential campaign flamed out last year and O’Rourke ended his bid for the White House in November.
During his relatively short presidential bid, O’Rourke promoted a mandatory gun buyback program, eliminating tax-exempt status for churches that oppose same-sex marriages and allowing abortions until the day of birth.