Republican candidate Leslie Gibson has dropped out of the race for Maine’s House of Representatives following backlash from controversial comments he made about two student survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.
“I am not walking away with my head hung low. I am walking away with my head held high,” Gibson told the Portland Press Herald on Friday, saying he had made the decision after conversations with family and friends.
“It’s the best thing for everybody,” Gibson added.
The Maine candidate drew outrage after posting insulting tweets about two Parkland students — Emma González and David Hogg — in light of their national gun control efforts.
“There is nothing about this skinhead lesbian that impresses me and there is nothing that she has to say unless you’re a frothing at the mouth moonbat,” Gibson tweeted of González, according to the Press Herald. He reportedly called Hogg a “bald-faced liar.” The Twitter account used to make the remarks appears to have been deactivated and Gibson’s campaign account has been set to private.
Gibson later apologized to González, the Press Herald reports.
“I would like to extend to you my most sincere apology for how I addressed you,” he said. “It was wrong and unacceptable. You are doing work that is important to you. I would like to extend my hand in friendship and understanding to you.”
Attempts by CNN to reach Gibson for comment were unsuccessful.
Republican state Sen. Amy Volk and a number of Maine Democrats had called on Gibson to end his campaign. The comments also prompted two opponents — one Republican and one Democrat — to enter the race for Maine’s 57th district.
“I never thought I would run for office, and I was perfectly content with just remaining a member of the community, but after reading Mr. Gibson’s comments I thought that the people of Greene and Sabattus deserved a representative who will respect people and try to work through their differences to make our lives better,” Eryn Gilchrist said in a statement from the state Democratic Party.
“After those recent unfortunate comments, I couldn’t sit back,” Republican candidate Thomas Martin Jr. said, according to the Press Herald.