Things That Matter

Uvalde Parents Speak Out Against Election Turnout: ‘My Daughter’s Murder Wasn’t Enough’

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has defeated Beto O’Rourke in Texas’ gubernatorial election and will be serving his third consecutive term as Governor of Texas. Abbott won in a landslide, garnering nearly a million more votes than O’Rourke despite increased awareness of preventative gun safety legislation in the wake of the Uvalde shooting.

Abbott, who is decidedly pro-gun and anti-abortion, won handily despite criticism of his administration in the last two years, most notably in regard to a statewide power outage following a snowstorm in February 2021, which according to Buzzfeed News killed between 250 to 700 people.

Despite their best efforts, outreach for O’Rourke’s campaign was not enough to sway the vote even though pundits expected Abbott to face an uphill battle leading up to the midterms.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Abbott was heavily criticized for his response to the Uvalde shooting, which included attending a campaign event for 3 hours in Huntsville on the day of the shooting. Abbott later claimed he made a brief appearance despite proof that he had been in the town for multiple hours.

Abbott was also criticized for praising the officers who responded to the Uvalde shooting and crediting the survival rate of the shooting to their swift action, shortly before an investigation revealed that the officers had, in fact, waited 77 minutes before engaging the shooter. The governor then made the now-infamous statement, “It could have been worse. The reason it was not worse is because law enforcement officials did what they do.”

The turnout in Uvalde has been particularly upsetting for O’Rourke’s supporters and the families of the Uvalde victims seeing that the county gave Abbott 60% of its vote after months of protesting and activism following the May 24 Robb Elementary shooting.

Leading up to the shooting, Uvalde has long been considered a red county and its 14 precincts have voted Republican consistently since at least 1992, through seven gubernatorial elections.

Some of the families of the Uvalde victims have spoken out following Abbott’s re-election, including a tweet from Kimberly Mata-Rubio, the mother of 10-year-old victim Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, that has gotten nearly 100,000 likes on Twitter.

A day before the election, the parents of the Uvalde victims implored the county’s residents to vote for O’Rourke following Abbott’s response to the shooting. “At the beginning I think some parents were kind of reluctant to make this a political issue,” said Uvalde parents Ronnie Garza in an interview with Texas Public Radio. “But then they learned — they found out that laws have to be changed if we want to make our community safer.”

Even still, some Uvalde residents were not convinced by their pleas for change. A small business owner named Jacqueline Schlichting said, “They are being used by politicians.” She added, “What they are being used for is to get it in their heads that this was something that could have been avoided had there been more gun control.” Overall, though, the shooting has led to an increased awareness of political and social issues facing the Uvalde community.

Courtesy of Getty Images

Abbott’s re-election also coincides with a decision to seal the autopsy reports of the shooting’s 21 victims in opposition to those demanding transparency from law enforcement regarding their response to the shooting.

Courtesy of Getty Images

O’Rourke expressed his frustration about the election results to a crowd of supporters at Epic Railyard Event Center, according to the Texas Tribune. The gubernatorial candidate made reference to Abbott’s advantages during the campaign and seemed to more or less admit that he was done running for public office in Texas.

O’Rourke won 19 counties in Texas compared to 32 counties in his senatorial race against Ted Cruz. “I don’t know what my role or yours will be going forward, but I’m in this fight for life,” he said to the crowd. Despite this, O’Rourke’s supporters cheered and chanted “Beto!” after he took the stage at around 9:20 PM.

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