Everything You Need To Know About Who Dropped Out Of The 2020 Presidential Race

Bernie Sanders joins over a dozen other former contenders

A lot of people are running for President in 2020. And we mean, a lot. In many ways, that is emblematic of a larger theoretical creed: That anyone can aim for the big, boss-of-America position if you're at least 35 years old. In practice... well, sometimes it can be a bit of a headache, especially if you can no longer keep track of who, exactly, is running and why.

The lead-up to the 2020 race has seen Senators, Congresspeople, Governors, former politicians, novelists, and businesspeople all throw their proverbial hats into the ring. Many of those people are vying for the Democratic nomination, which will be decided in July of next year. Yet while there is still plenty of road left in 2020, some hopefuls are already bowing out of the competition, and are setting their eyes on other prizes.

Who has decided to drop out? What will they do next? And what impact did they have on the 2020 race overall? Here's your guide to the former contenders.

Michael Bennet

The Colorado senator ended his bid on Tuesday (February 11) as votes were being counted in the New Hampshire primary. He didn't receive a single delegate in the Iowa caucuses and, according to CNN, was heavily focusing his campaign on New Hampshire — but after receiving just 0.3 percent of the vote with one-fifth of precincts reporting, he announced his departure from the race.

Michael Bloomberg

The former New York City mayor was perhaps the shortest-lived candidate: After announcing his campaign in November 2019, he suspended it on March 4, the day after Super Tuesday. His showing there was notable in how lackluster it was. He came in first in American Samoa, likely because he was one of the only candidates to devote any spending in the territory. In total, he spent an estimated $500 million on his campaign, largely from his own astronomical fortune. (Seriously: He's really, really, really rich.)

Axios first reported the news of his campaign suspension, followed by a statement and Biden endorsement tweeted by New York Times reporter Katie Rogers.

Bill De Blasio

The New York City mayor announced the end to his campaign on Friday (September 20), during an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe. "It's clearly not my time," he said about the effort. He added in an essay he wrote for NBC News, "After several months of campaigning, I have reached the point where I feel I have contributed all I can to this Democratic primary. Today, I’m ending my campaign for the presidency." Instead of campaigning, he says he'll return to New York City to pick his day job back up for the more than two years until term limits end his time as mayor.

Cory Booker

On  January 13, one day before the seventh Democratic primary debate, the New Jersey senator announced he was suspending his campaign. He did so in a tweet that promised to campaign for the eventual Democratic nominee.

"Our campaign has reached the point where we need more money to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win — money we don’t have, and money that is harder to raise because I won’t be on the next debate stage and because the urgent business of impeachment will rightly be keeping me in Washington," he said in a statement to supporters, per the New York Times.

Steve Bullock

The Montana governor announced he was suspending his campaign on December 2; he had only ever qualified for one Democratic primary debate since announcing his bid for the nomination in May. He cited an inability to "break through to the top tier of this still-crowded field of candidates" as a reason for his departure. "I entered this race as a voice to win back the places we lost, bridge divides and rid our system of the corrupting influence of Dark Money," he added. "While the concerns that propelled me to enter in the first place have not changed, I leave this race filled with gratitude and optimism, inspired and energized by the good people I’ve had the privilege of meeting over the course of the campaign." Per Vox, he plans to resume his duties as Montana's governor and has expressed a disinterest in running for Senate in 2020.

Pete Buttigieg

The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, suspended his campaign on Sunday, March 1, after coming in a distant fourth place in the South Carolina primary, per the New York TimesAs recently as that morning, he was marching in Selma, Alabama, with Black political leaders, in order to commemorate the 55th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

A millennial who was seen as a moderate wunderkind, Buttigieg was the first openly gay major Democratic presidential candidate. A strong showing in the Iowa caucuses wasn't enough to propel his campaign; his campaign especially faltered after he came in third in Nevada.

Julián Castro

On January 2, the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and only Latino candidate for president announced that he would be dropping out of the presidential race, the New York Times first reported. He stayed in the race after failing to reach high enough polling numbers to make the November and December debate stages, but said in a video posted to his Twitter that he would suspend his campaign for president because this "simply isn’t our time." While the former San Antonio mayor didn't say what he would be doing next, he said he was "not done fighting" and added that he would "keep working towards a nation where everyone counts, a nation where everyone can get a good job, good health care and a decent place to live."

John Delaney

After campaigning for two and a half years, the former Maryland representative announced he would be dropping out of the Democratic presidential primary race on January 31. Delaney, who didn't qualify for any of the Democratic primary debates after July, was polling at one percent.

"I'm announcing this morning that I'm withdrawing from the 2020 race," he told CNN just days before the Iowa Caucuses. "I've campaigned harder than anyone in Iowa through all 99 counties. I've done hundreds of events across this great state, but it's clear to me on Monday, on caucus night, I will not have sufficient support to get to the 15 percent viability threshold."

Tulsi Gabbard

Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination on Thursday (March 19). In her announcement video, she talked about how Americans came together after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and how "likewise, today, as Americans and all of humanity, we face a common enemy" in the novel coronavirus.

"I feel that the best way that I can be of service at this time is to continue to work for the health and well being of the people of Hawaii and our country in Congress and to stand ready to serve in uniform if the Hawaii national guard should be activated," she said. She added that she is suspending her candidacy and endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden.

Kirsten Gillibrand

The New York Senator announced her departure from the race on August 28, which coincidentally marked the last day to qualify for the third and fourth Democratic primary debates. (She didn't make it.) In an interview with the New York Times, she said that while "a woman nominee would be inspiring and exciting," she is committed to the Democratic nominee, whomever they are. “I will support whoever the nominee is, and I will do whatever it takes to beat Trump," she said.

Mike Gravel

The teen-led Twitter account for former Senator Mike Gravel announced they were ending the campaign on August 6 (RIP to the #Gravelanch.) In closing the often viral, humorous effort, Henry Williams and David Oks reminded readers: "This was not a 'campaign' in the strict sense: we never wanted to win, and always made that clear. The campaign wasn’t about Mike as much as it was in his honor —nit was a crowdsourced and intimately democratic project, about ideas rather than individuals." They highlighted the resonance the campaign had with young people before formally endorsing Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination.

Jay Inslee

On August 21, the governor of Washington told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that he was officially dropping out of the Presidential race, but will continue to be vocal on a national level about his number one priority: the climate crisis. "I’m going to help all the other candidates raise their level of ambition on this. We need all of them to raise their game," he said.

Inslee campaigned on a platform that focused almost entirely on the climate crisis, so once he dropped out, other candidates thanked him for prioritizing the environment and promised to pick up where he left off.

Kamala Harris

The California Senator suspended her campaign on December 3, after a last hard push in Iowa. "I want to be clear with you: I am still very much in this fight," she said in an e-blast to supporters sent after several outlets reported she was dropping out. "And I will keep fighting every day for what this campaign has been about. Justice for the people. All the people."

She also promised to "do everything in my power to defeat Donald Trump and fight for the future of our country and the best of who we are," though there is currently no indication of what her next steps in 2020 might be. As Senator, she is slated to weigh in on President Trump's impeachment, should the House of Representatives vote to impeach.  

"Let’s keep fighting for the America we believe in, an America free of injustice," she added. "An America that we know can be unburdened by what has been."

John Hickenlooper

A week after his August 15 announcement that he was no longer running for President, the former governor of Colorado revealed his bid for Senate against Republican Cory Gardner. (The state's other Senator, Democrat Michael Bennet, is currently running for President.) "I know changing Washington is hard, but I want to give it a shot," he said when announcing his new campaign. "I'm not done fighting for the people of Colorado."

Amy Klobuchar

On Monday (March 2), Sen. Amy Klobuchar dropped out of the presidential race, the Associated Press first reported. According to the New York Times, she is endorsing former Vice President Joe Biden and will be at his rally in Dallas Monday night. She left the race the day before Super Tuesday, in which her home state of Minnesota and a slew of other states will pick their primary winner. She had amassed just seven delegates and was in fifth place, behind Sen. Bernie Sanders, Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren; the announcement came just one day after Buttigieg dropped out of the race.

Wayne Messam

The mayor of Miramar, Florida, announced he was dropping out of the race on November 20. He had first announced his candidacy in March, but failed to qualify for any of the Democratic primary debates. In a Medium post, he highlighted the small gains his campaign had made, but conceded that "in the end, it was not enough to continue this current race as a candidate." He says he will continue to serve as Mayor for a city of around 122,000 people, just north of Miami.

Seth Moulton

The Massachusetts Representative dropped out on August 23, just two days after Inslee. He will run for reelection in Massachusetts's sixth district instead. Per the New York Times, he already believes that the race for the Democratic nomination is much smaller than the pool of over 20 candidates would lead you to think: "I think it’s evident that this is now a three-way race between Biden, Warren and Sanders, and really it’s a debate about how far left the party should go," he said.

Beto O'Rourke

On November 1, the former Texas Congressman officially dropped out of the race via a tweet and a post on Medium, saying that his campaign doesn't "have the means to move forward successfully." He has not said what's next for him — or if it includes a race for Senate or the House of Representatives in his home state — but he did throw his support behind whoever wins the Democratic nomination. "I can tell you firsthand from having the chance to know the candidates, we will be well served by any one of them, and I’m going to be proud to support whoever that nominee is," Beto wrote. "And proud to call them President in January 2021, because they will win."

Deval Patrick

The former Governor of Massachusetts announced the end to his campaign on February 12. According to NPR, he cited the New Hampshire primary as the functional end point to a bid that started months later than those of many of his contemporaries. "The vote in New Hampshire last night was not enough for us to create the practical wind at the campaign's back to go on to the next round of voting. So I have decided to suspend the campaign, effective immediately," he said. He earned less than one percent of the vote Tuesday night.

Tim Ryan

The Democratic representative for Ohio's 13th district officially ended his bid on October 24. He's pivoting instead to run as an incumbent in the House of Representatives, NBC News reports; it's a seat he's held since 2003.

In a video announcing the end to his presidential candidacy, Ryan said, "I got into this race in April to really give voice to the forgotten people of our country: the workers who have been left behind, the businesses who have been left behind, the people who need health care or aren’t getting a quality education, or are saddled by tremendous debt. I'm proud of this campaign because I believe we’ve done that. We’ve given voice to the forgotten communities and the forgotten people in the United States."

Bernie Sanders

One of the last remaining candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), announced on Wednesday (April 8) that he is dropping out of the race for the Democratic nomination, NBC News reported. His team said that he would be addressing supporters during a livestream later on Wednesday. It's unclear if he'll throw his support behind the last standing democratic candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Joe Sestak

The former Representative announced he was dropping out on December 1, CBS reported. In a letter to supporters he posted on Twitter, he pointed to a lack of "national press" as a key reason why he was ending his campaign; Politico notes he frequently polled at zero percent and did not qualify for any of the Democratic primary debates. "I know there is a tear in that fabric [of America] right now; but it can be repaired by someone who can lead, and therefore unite, all Americans," he said in his letter.

Tom Steyer

The businessman ended his campaign after finishing third in South Carolina. "I said if I didn't see a path to winning that I'd suspend my campaign," he said to supporters in a speech that was broadcast on Facebook Live. "And honestly I can't see a path where I can win the presidency. So am I gonna continue to work on every single one of these issues? Yes, of course I am, because I've never stopped. That's what I'm here for."

Eric Swalwell

The Democrat, who is currently serving as a Representative for California's 15th district, announced the end to his campaign on July 8. Swalwell plans to run as an incumbent for his seat in the 2020 election.

He had entered the race by focusing on his gun-control policies, which included a call to close the loopholes that activists say contribute to gun violence as well as implementing a federal gun buyback program for assault weapons. He received national attention during the first Democratic primary debates in late June when he targeted Joe Biden with a speech the former Vice President had given decades ago: "A presidential candidate came to the California Democratic convention and said it's time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans. That candidate was then-Senator Joe Biden. He was right when he said that 32 years ago. He is still right today."

Joe Walsh

After receiving 1 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses, the former right-wing radio host and congressman from Illinois announced he was suspending his campaign on February 7. "I got into this because I thought it was really important that there was a Republican — a Republican — out there every day calling out this president for how unfit he is," Walsh told CNN's New Day about his campaign.

He added that he believes the Republican party is a "cult" and that President Donald Trump "literally is the greatest threat to this country right now. Any Democrat would be better than Trump in the White House."

Walsh's campaign was considered a long-shot from the start; while plenty of incumbent presidents have faced primary challengers in the past, none have formally stolen the party nomination away (Harry Truman opted not to seek reelection in 1952, making the Democrats' decision for them). Additionally, wings of the Republican party cancelled primaries in at least four states last September, a move which Walsh loudly criticized.

Elizabeth Warren

The Massachusetts senator and one-time frontrunner ended her campaign on March 5, following a disappointing performance on Super Tuesday. The New York Times first reported the news as coming from "a person close to" the candidate; it was later corroborated by CNN.

"I refuse to let disappointment blind me, or you, to what we’ve accomplished," she told staff in a phone call announcing her decision, BuzzFeed reported. "We didn’t reach our goal, but what we have done together, what you have done, has made a lasting difference. It’s not the scale of the difference we wanted to make, but it matters — and the changes will have ripples for years to come."

Marianne Williamson

In an email sent to supporters on January 10, the self-help guru told supporters she was officially suspending her campaign. The news came a week after she fired her entire campaign staff, but maintained that she was still in the race. "I ran for president to help forge another direction for our country," she said. "I wanted to discuss things I felt needed to be discussed that otherwise ere not. I felt we have done that."

Williamson's campaign was controversial from the jump. For much of it, she proselytized running on something other than policy or plans, given the Donald Trump playbook of things. But her history of fatphobic and ableist teachings, as well as a willingness to provide her platform to medically harmful anti-vaccine activists, controlled much of the conversation.

Andrew Yang

On February 11, as the results from the primary in New Hampshire began trickling in, entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Yang officially dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary race. Yang, who ran on the primary platform of universal basic income, dropped out just days after failing to receive the support of any delegates in Iowa. “I am the math guy, and it’s clear from the numbers we’re not going to win this campaign,” he told supporters in Manchester, New Hampshire, according to the New York Times. “So tonight I’m announcing that I am suspending my campaign.”

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