AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas House Republican Rick Miller announced he would not seek re-election after comments he made about two people running against him sparked controversy.
He told the Houston Chronicle that his two competitors, Jacey Jetton and Leonard Chan, were running just because they were Asian.
“(Jacey Jetton) has decided because, because he is an Asian that my district might need an Asian to win,” Miller told the Houston Chronicle. “And that’s kind of racist in my mind, but anyway, that’s not necessary, at least not yet.”
Miller is the representative for District 26 in the Texas House. The district includes most of Fort Bend County near Houston. About a quarter of the population is Asian.
Other Republicans have condemned Miller’s comments, and Governor Greg Abbott pulled his endorsement.
Miller apologized saying he used a “poor choice of words” that did not reflect his character. He also said he will end his re-election campaign because he does not want to be a distraction to the party.
The area has been a Republican stronghold in the past. However, the population is changing, and Democrats hope to gain ground.
“Demographically it’s becoming one of the most diverse counties in the United States,” Texas Tribune reporter Ross Ramsey said. “They have 178 different languages spoken in the Fort Bend ISD. People from all over the world. And politically this used to be one of the reliably red counties.”
In 2018, Beto O’Rourke beat Ted Cruz by a narrow margin in the county. Ramsey said they are seeing Republicans becoming sensitive to a changing election.
“Whatever else you can say about politicians, they’re responsive,” Ramsey said. “The voters have moved. The Republican electorate has changed in Fort Bend County, and the people those people elect have changed with them. Or are trying to.”
Ramsey said right now both parties want to reflect the electorate, particularly the Republicans.
“And if you’re in a place like Fort Bend County, Republican voters no matter what the voters background and demographics are,” Ramsey said. “And Rick Miller found that out the hard way.”