California Senator Kamala Harris has ended her bid for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020.
The move comes shortly after Harris cancelled a major fundraiser that was set to take place in New York City, as a result of internal chaos at the campaign; this dysfunction was highlighted by one of the campaign’s top aides in a resignation letter that was published last month, in which the aide said she had “never seen an organization treat its staff so poorly.” Harris made the announcement of the suspension of her campaign early Tuesday.
Harris was widely seen as one of the top candidates for the nomination in the early stages of the primary season. As the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, and the second African-American woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate, Harris even drew comparisons with former President Barack Obama. Harris was one of a handful of senators who used her seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee to build up a national profile during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and had staked out hard-left positions on numerous key issues such as healthcare and immigration.
After initially trailing behind other top candidates such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Harris skyrocketed in the polls after the first Democratic primary debate, when she clashed with Biden over his work with segregationists in contrast to her childhood, where she allegedly grew up during segregation.
She quickly rose to second while Biden’s numbers plummeted, until Harris herself faced a similar onslaught at the second debate, when Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) criticized her overly-strict record as California’s Attorney General. Harris’s momentum from the first debate was blunted and she fell again in the polls, as others like Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Ind.) rose to surpass her.
Harris is the third Democratic candidate to drop out in as many days; former Congressman Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) dropped out on Sunday, and Governor Steve Bullock (D-Mont.) withdrew on Monday. But Harris’s withdrawal marks the first exit of a major candidate since former Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) in early November, and further reflects the growing uncertainty of the Democratic field. Fourteen candidates have dropped out overall, and fifteen candidates remain.
Harris started out as an attorney and quickly rose her way through San Francisco politics, eventually becoming District Attorney in 2003 and re-elected in 2007. She was then elected Attorney General of California in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, before running for the U.S. Senate to succeed the retiring incumbent Barbara Boxer in 2016.