“I’m as inspired, I’m as hopeful as I’ve ever been in my life,” the Democrat told supporters gathered at Southwest University Park stadium in his hometown of El Paso. “Tonight’s loss does nothing to diminish how I feel about Texas or this country.”
O’Rourke delivered a concession speech over two hours after news outlets called the race for Cruz. The Democrat lost by a margin of roughly 3 percentage points ― far closer than the 20 or more percentage points Democrats seeking statewide office in Texas are used to losing by.
Despite running against the widely disliked Cruz, O’Rourke ran a campaign that largely aimed to eschew a political climate marked by negativity. He avoided attacking Cruz until their second debate in October and frequently trumpeted bipartisanship, a theme that ran throughout his concession speech Tuesday night.
“We’re not about being against anybody,” he said. “We’re not going to define ourselves by who or what we’re afraid of.”
O’Rourke said he had called Cruz to offer his congratulations and to extend a hand to work together for the benefit of Texans.
“I’ll work with anyone, anytime, anywhere,” he said, echoing words from the campaign trail.
The Democrat went on to express his love and gratitude to the citizens of El Paso, who elected him for three terms to the U.S. House of Representatives, and told his supporters around the country: “I’m so fucking proud of you guys.”
There was much speculation during the campaign that O’Rourke might be eyeing a run for the presidency in 2020. When asked about it during a town hall in October, though, he said, “It’s a definitive no.” He said at the time that he and his family would return to their lives in El Paso if he were to lose the Senate race.
He didn’t say in his concession speech what his next step would be, but he hinted that we haven’t seen the last of him.
“We will see you out there, down the road,” he said.