A Texas state GOP lawmaker who suggested his primary opponents were running because they are “Asian” announced Tuesday that he will retire from politics after being criticized by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and other state lawmakers.
Texas state Rep. D.F. Rick Miller (R), who represents Fort Bend County, said one of his opponents, Jacey Jetton, is running to get “an Asian to win” the district, accusing Jetton’s reasoning of being “kind of racist” on Monday. Jetton formerly served as the chairman of the Fort Bend GOP.
“He has decided because, because he is an Asian that my district might need an Asian to win,” said in an interview with Hearst Newspapers. “And that’s kind of racist in my mind, but anyway, that’s not necessary, at least not yet.”
Miller said another GOP candidate, Houston Fire Department analyst Leonard Chan, “jumped in probably for the same reason.”
“I have no idea who he is. He has not been around Republican channels at all, but he’s an Asian,” Miller said.
Miller on Tuesday apologized for the “insensitive an inexcusable” comments and announced his retirement.
“I do not want to be a distraction for my party or my constituents, and therefore I have decided not to seek re-election,” Miller said, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Abbott withdrew his endorsement of Miller on Tuesday. Abbott spokesperson John Wittman told the Dallas News that “Representative Miller’s comments are inappropriate and out of touch with the values of the Republican Party.”
In an Oct. 15 video with the state lawmaker, Abbott called Miller “a strong conservative leader who worked to rein in your property taxes, increase teacher pay and improve education for Texas students” in a video shared to Facebook endorsing him, the Dallas Morning News reported. The video has since been removed.
The county is made up of 35 percent white residents, 24 percent Hispanic, 21 percent Asian or other and 20 percent black, the Houston Chronicle reported, citing data from the Kinder Institute for Urban Research.
Fort Bend County Republican Party Chairwoman Linda Howell called Miller’s remarks “out of step” and urged him to drop out of his reelection campaign Tuesday.
“Derogatory comments such as the ones made by Rep. Miller are completely out of step with my beliefs and the beliefs of our party,” Howell said, according to the Morning News.
Texas Democratic Party spokesman Abhi Rahman called Miller a “racist candidate.”
“It’s a sad reflection of their values and the reason why Republicans will continue to lose elections in the increasingly diverse Fort Bend County and across the state,” Rahman said, the Morning News reported.