With critical issues like decades-high inflation and skyrocketing fuel prices under the Biden administration capturing much of the campaign emphasis, guns weren’t really a central issue in the midterm election; however, one of the few candidates who made his anti-gun ambitions a highlighted part of his campaign was roundly defeated, once again.
Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke (D) kept his goal of not only banning the sale of the most common semi-automatic rifles, but also confiscating them from lawful Americans, front and center in his Texas gubernatorial campaign. In the end, his gun-ban ambitions once again took him straight to the concession speech podium, as he was soundly defeated by incumbent Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) by a margin of 55% to 44%.
In fact, Tuesday’s defeat was the third election loss in four years for O’Rourke, who is famous for his statement during the 2019 Democrat presidential primary campaign: “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15!”
Earlier in the campaign, O’Rourke had signaled a possible shift in his plans to ban the most-popular rifle in the United States.
“I’m not interested in taking anything from anyone,” O’Rourke said in February at a campaign stop in Tyler, Texas. “What I want to make sure that we do is defend the Second Amendment.”
While that didn’t sound like O’Rourke, it did seem like a sound political strategy in a state like Texas; however, the outwardly anti-gun O’Rourke came roaring back onto the scene in September. Just a month-and-a-half before the election, O’Rourke basically admitted that confiscation of all AR-15-style rifles would be his “perfect” solution to America’s crime rates, even though Texans would never accept it.
“The important thing (is) to get something done and not to allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good,” O’Rourke said on Sept. 24 at a political symposium hosted by the Texas Tribune.
Now a three-time loser, O’Rourke’s political future is a big topic of discussion in the Lone Star State. As Corbin Casteel, a Republican consultant, told the Texas Tribune following the election: “He’s a perennial candidate. He hasn’t shown any ability to win outside his hometown and his ideas are just way too radical for Texas and he keeps getting rejected left and right.”
However, during his concession speech, O’Rourke certainly didn’t signal that the loss in the gubernatorial election was the end of his public ambitions. “I don’t know what my role or yours will be going forward, but I’m in this fight for life,” O'Rourke told his supporters. “Who knows what's next for any of us, right? But I just cannot thank you enough."
In the end, love him or hate him, don’t count O’Rourke out, as he has an inexplicably large national following, and has been able to raise a lot of out-of-state money. Whether he runs again or not, one thing is for certain: whatever office he might seek in the future, he’ll likely be the most anti-freedom candidate in the race.