Democratic US Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke conceded defeat to incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz late on Tuesday in one of the nation’s tightest and most closely-watched midterm battles.
O’Rourke, a 46-year-old from El Paso, Texas, was by far the best-funded and most competitive Democrat to run statewide in the red state in years, and would have become the first Democrat elected statewide in Texas in nearly a quarter century.
“Tonight’s loss does nothing to diminish the way that I feel about Texas or this country,” O’Rourke said during his impassioned concession speech in his home city. “Getting to be with and see all of you tonight reminds me why we set out to do this in the first place. We’re not about being against anybody. … We’re not going to define ourselves by who or what we are against or afraid of or scared of.”
He pledged to support Cruz and work across the aisle despite deep polarization.
“I’ll work with him, I’ll work with anyone any time, anywhere to make sure, in the same way you’ve been there for us, that now we can be there for you,” O’Rourke said.
And he praised his supporters for “doing something no one thought was possible.”
“This campaign holds a very special place in the history of this country going forward,” he said. “I’m so f–king proud of you guys!”
The progressive Democrat, who campaigned on Medicare for All and pathways to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, was fueled by over $60 million in campaign donations, a savvy social-media strategy, and a series of glowing national media profiles — and generous comparisons to President John F. Kennedy.
For months, he attracted widespread national attention with viral video clips of him defending the free speech rights of NFL players, live streams of his road trips across the vast state, and celebrity endorsements from the likes of country music star Willie Nelson and NBA legend LeBron James.