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Beto O’Rourke to supporters in impassioned concession speech: ‘I’m in this fight for life’

The Texas Democrat lost the gubernatorial race to Republican Greg Abbott, who clinched a third four-year term in the governor’s office

Johanna Chisholm
Wednesday 09 November 2022 18:37 GMT
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Beto O'Rourke delivers passionate concession speech: 'I'm in this fight for life'

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke delivered an impassioned concession speech in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, marking the third time he’s addressed a crowd of supporters in a losing bid for elected office in the past four years.

Early in the night on Tuesday, the Associated Press projected that the former three-term congressman would lose to Republican incumbent Governor Greg Abbott. Gov Abbott just secured his third four-year term in the Texas governor’s office.

Shortly after it was clear that this would be his third state-wide failed race, Mr O’Rourke, who was once championed as the next great hope for the Texas Democratic Party, took the stage in a classically optimistic tune. He even subtly jibed at how this wasn’t the first time in recent memory that he’d delivered a concession speech.

“This may be one of the last times I get to talk in front of you all and talk about this amazing thing that we have all done together over the course of the last year some of you over the course of the last five years,” Mr O’Rourke said to a roomful of supporters in his hometown of El Paso.

Throughout the poignant address, Mr O’Rourke, who previously ran for both the presidency in 2020 and the Senate in 2018, the Democrat remained steadfast in illuminating the hopes he had for his home state.

“When they ask us at some point down the road, ‘What were you up to when all of these terrible things were going on in Texas, and we still had a chance to do something about it?’ We want them to know that we stood to be counted along with so many other extraordinary, wonderful people in this room with us tonight,” he said.

The former Texas congressman took pains to address some of his platform issues, which included preserving abortion rights and reeling in the state’s gun control legislation.

“After some truly historic failures in this state over the last eight years, we offered a vision every woman makes her own decisions about her own body and her own future and her own healthcare,” said Mr O’Rourke.

Under Gov Abbott’s administration, the state of Texas passed a law that banned abortion care after roughly six weeks of pregnancy and allowed a $10,000 civil suit bounty on anyone who “aids and abets” those seeking care.

In June, after the Supreme Court reversed Roe v Wade, the Republican-led state enacted a more aggressive law that made abortions under most circumstances a felony punishable by life in prison.

Mr O’Rourke’s “vision” for Texas soon began shaping into a full rebuke of the gubernatorial race’s winning candidate’s years in office. He dug in and called out the state’s “failed” gun control measures by drawing up images from the deadly mass shooting in Uvalde that claimed the lives of 19 elementary-age students and two teachers this past spring.

“A state where children don’t have to fear going to school and being gunned down in their classroom and their parents having to identify them by the shoes that they are wearing,” said Mr O’Rourke, recalling how during that deadly massacre parents were asked for DNA samples in order to help identify the deceased children.

The Democratic candidate also shared the stage with his wife, Amy, who he thanked “for having the unfortunate job” of staying by his side through these past few years of campaigning. He then turned his attention to his mother, who he shared had recently been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in recent months.

“She’s been in the fight of her life literally,” Mr O’Rourke said. “The unconditional love and support and the push that you gave me day in and day out kept me going throughout this.”

In a moment that harkened back to one of his more iconic concession speeches, Mr O’Rourke spent a good portion of his address profusely thanking the more than 95,000 volunteers who knocked on more than 5m doors across the state.

“At a time when we could be tempted to give in and give up we all decided instead to give it our all,” he said. “In a state that has this level of voter suppression and voter intimidation, the hardest in the nation in which to cast a ballot or to get your name on the rolls to be registered to vote in the first place, we made those who have been shut out in this democracy our priority.”

While it was indeed a concession speech for the Democrat’s latest state-wide election loss, it didn’t entirely sound like he was planning to scuttle away into obscurity once he left the stage in El Paso on Tuesday night.

“We just want a state where people are free enough and healthy enough to be able to pursue their potential and rise to fulfil their true promise,” he said. “A state, where we are not defined or divided based on our differences but find the common interests for the common good right here on the common ground before us.”

“That still is the Texas that I want to live in,” he said. “I don’t know what form that will take, I don’t know what my role or yours will be going forward, but I’m in this fight for life.”

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