Texas Republican state Rep. Rick Miller has opted out of his reelection bid after his derogatory comments about his primary challengers lost him the governor’s endorsement and attracted national attention.
Miller said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle that two of his opponents were only running because they are “Asian” in a heavily Asian district, a move which he called “racist.”
He announced his impending resignation to the Texas Tribune.
“During a recent interview with the Houston Chronicle I made some statements that were insensitive and inexcusable,” Miller said in a statement. “In trying to make a point about the campaign I used a poor choice of words that are not indicative of my character or heart. I do not want to be a distraction for my party or my constituents, and therefore I have decided not to seek re-election.”
During the interview, Miller went after Jacey Jetton, a former chairman of the Fort Bend GOP, and Leonard Chan, a Houston Fire Department analyst.
“He’s a Korean,” said Miller of Jetton to the Houston Chronicle. “He has decided because he is an Asian that my district might need an Asian to win. And that’s kind of racist in my mind, but anyway, that’s not necessary, at least not yet.”
Miller said that Chan “jumped in probably for the same reason,” adding that he has “no idea who he is. He has not been around Republican channels at all, but he’s an Asian.”
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) withdrew his endorsement Tuesday after previously calling Miller a “principled conservative.”
Democrats were already targeting Miller’s seat in the 26th District, which includes most of an ethnically diverse county that Hillary Clinton won in 2016. The filing deadline to run for the seat is December 9.
One of Miller’s Democratic competitors reacted to the resignation on Twitter:
Thank you for your service, @vote4rick, we’ll take it from here. It’s time for Fort Bend to have a representative who knows diversity is our greatest strength.
— Rish Oberoi (@RishOberoiTX) December 3, 2019
It’s been a turbulent year for the Texas House of Representatives, as Speaker Dennis Bonnen also opted out of his own reelection after being clandestinely taped saying derogatory things about Democrats and members of his own party alike.
And just last week, Texas Republicans accidentally blasted their 2020 game plan into Democratic inboxes, outlining strategies to hold on to the majority. Democrats are aiming to win the House for the first time since 2003, after making appreciable gains during the 2018 blue wave.