Texas Governor Greg Abbott won Uvalde County during Tuesday’s midterm elections despite facing backlash for his handling of the Robb Elementary School massacre in May.
Abbott, a Republican, appeared poised to handily win reelection Tuesday night, beating back his Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke and quashing hopes Texas would turn blue in 2022. The state’s gubernatorial race was marked by debate over gun control after the Uvalde mass shooting.
On May 24, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos entered Robb Elementary in Uvalde, gunning down 19 students and two teachers. He was later killed by police after they waited more than an hour to enter the building, sparking widespread criticism.
Abbott faced calls to pass stronger gun control in the wake of the shooting but resisted these efforts. He has confronted heat from Democratic constituents but carried Uvalde County during his reelection push.
Democrats hoped to use calls for greater gun control against Abbott. A video released in the final weeks of the campaign denounced Abbott for backing eased gun restrictions.
“Remember when we passed open carry and campus carry and people said it was going to be the OK Corral? None of that happened,” Abbott is seen saying in the ad, which featured surveillance footage of Ramos walking in the school hallways. The campaign ad also featured a 911 call made by a student inside the school.
A separate $6 million advertisement, purchased by a dark money group, highlighted Abbott saying the shooting “coulda been worse” against criticisms that police did not do enough to stop it.
O’Rourke also made gun control a major cornerstone of his 2020 presidential bid following a 2019 shooting in El Paso, the community that he represented in Congress from 2013 to 2019.
Uvalde has a history of voting for GOP candidates. It backed Abbott by about 21 percentage points during his 2018 gubernatorial bid and former President Donald Trump by about 20 points in 2020. O’Rourke lost by about 10 points in Uvalde to Senator Ted Cruz in his 2018 Senate race.
Polls indicated that Abbott was likely to win reelection in the traditionally GOP-leaning state that shifted toward Democrats during the Trump era.
“We need change, governor,” one man shouted while others could be seen giving him a thumbs down.
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