After receiving intense backlash for attacking two survivors of the Parkland shooting, a Republican candidate for Maine’s 57th District has called it quits. Leslie Gibson made the announcement on Friday after discussing the matter with family and friends. Gibson decided that dropping out of the previously-uncontested race is “the best thing for everybody.”
The former candidate was under fire for Twitter remarks where he called Emma Gonzalez a “skinhead lesbian” and David Hogg a “bald faced liar.” Both students have emerged as outspoken figures in the push for more gun control. Gibson, who is a veteran, is a proponent of the Second Amendment and stands by his impassioned defense of the constitutional right to bear arms. According to the Portland Press Herald, he is walking away from the campaign with his “head held high.”
Gibson’s apology to Gonzalez wasn’t enough to calm the public’s outrage regarding his hateful attack. The February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School rocked the nation as one student took the lives of 17 people and injured several others using an assault rifle. Not only did Gibson attack Gonzalez’s appearance and sexuality, Gibson also insinuated that Gonzalez wasn’t a true survivor because she was “in a completely different part of the school” when the shooting took place.
The military veteran used Twitter to reach out to Gonzalez and acknowledged that the way he addressed her was “wrong and unacceptable.” He tweeted that he understood how important her work is to her. Gibson then offered his hand in “friendship and understanding.”
But Hogg took to the social media platform on Wednesday calling for other candidates to oppose Gibson in the upcoming election. The teen tweeted that he didn’t care if the contender is a Democrat, Republican, or an Independent. Hogg just wanted someone to “run against this hate-loving politician.”
So far, two people have heeded the call. Republican Thomas Martin Jr. and Democrat Eryn Gilchrist have thrown their hats into the ring. Both candidates were appalled by Gibson’s actions and neither could stand by and do nothing. Gilchrist said that she was “horrified and embarrassed” by the possibility of being represented by a man like Gibson. Martin pointed out that “our words and actions have consequences,” hence the fate of Leslie Gibson.