Republican drops out of race after viciously smearing shooting survivors


GOP candidate Leslie Gibson's attacks on the Parkland shooting survivors brought his campaign to an abrupt end Friday.

Republican candidate Leslie Gibson, who came under fire recently for launching a series of vicious verbal attacks against two of the Parkland shooting survivors, is dropping of the race for a seat in Maine's House of Representatives.

According to the Sun Journal, Gibson said he made the decision to end his campaign "after talking with his family, praying and discussing it with friends and colleagues."

“It’s the best thing for everybody,” said Gibson.

Gibson's decision to drop out comes just a day after two challengers — a Democrat and a Republican — jumped into the race to ensure that Gibson did not run unopposed in November.

The two new candidates put their names on the ballot after Gibson drew national ire for his insulting remarks about Parkland shooting survivors Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg.

In a series of tweets last week, Gibson singled out the teen survivors, referring to Hogg as a "bald-faced liar" and calling Gonzalez a "skinhead lesbian."

He even argued that Gonzalez, who has emerged as a powerful advocate for gun violence prevention, should not be considered a survivor because she was "in a completely different part of the school" when the shooting took place.

Gibson's remarks sparked outcry from both sides of the aisle.

Amy Volk, a Republican state senator from Maine, urged Gibson to drop out of the race and called for "respect and kindness" from lawmakers.

Maine Democratic Party Chairman Phil Bartlett also said Gibson should withdraw from the race, calling his comments "disgusting and not representative of Maine values."

On Wednesday, Hogg took to Twitter to urge other candidates to challenge Gibson.

"Who wants to run against this hate-loving politician?” asked Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “I don’t care what party. JUST DO IT."

Hogg's challenge did not go unanswered, as just a day later Democrat Eryn Gilchrist and Republican Thomas Martin Jr. both jumped in to oppose Gibson's bid for a state House seat.

And now, Gibson is out of the race altogether.

While the NRA and its allies may want not to admit it, the Parkland survivors are emerging as a powerful force on the political stage. Right now, they're using their voices to fight back — but before long, they'll be using their votes, too.