Kamala Harris ends presidential bid, becoming first top-tier candidate to leave Democratic race


Updated

December 04, 2019 07:57:19

California senator Kamala Harris has ended her 2020 Democratic presidential campaign after failing to garner support in key states despite an early rise in the polls.

Key points:

  • Ms Harris was expected to unite progressive and moderate Democrats amid a crowded race
  • In a public statement, she cited a lack of campaign finance for her departure
  • Critics of Ms Harris slammed her record as California’s former state prosecutor

“I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life,” Ms Harris wrote in a public statement.

“My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”

Ms Harris would have struggled to spend competitively against her rivals. She finished September with $US9 million ($13 million) in cash, according to finance disclosures her campaign filed.

By comparison, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren had nearly $US26 million at that point.

In a thinly veiled swipe a new Democratic contender and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, Ms Harris added that she was “not a billionaire” and could not fund her own campaign.

Mr Bloomberg is a late entrant in the 2020 Democratic race and is expected to spend big on his campaign as he is one of the world’s richest people.

So far he has pledged $US150 million to his campaign — an amount greater than the campaign totals of all other Democratic contenders combined.

Senator Harris held a conference call with staff on Tuesday afternoon to inform them of her decision, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Her campaign recently began showing signs of trouble, including stagnant fundraising and public complaints by former staff that her workers were being treated poorly.

“She just hasn’t quite satisfactorily answered the ‘what makes you better than the other candidates question,'” said a longtime aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“That’s the underlying biggest thing. She hasn’t quite sufficiently explained her rationale for herself.”

Harris dogged by record as Californian prosecutor

Ms Harris, 55, positioned herself as a unifying candidate who could energise the party’s base of young, diverse progressives while also appealing to more moderate voters.

Critics of Ms Harris — including fellow Democratic 2020 contender Tulsi Gabbard — had slammed her record as a Californian state prosecutor.

Ms Gabbard cited Ms Harris’s previous opposition to the introduction of advanced DNA testing into the Californian judicial system, which Ms Gabbard claimed could have “freed” Kevin Cooper, an African-American man on death row.

While the testing — which has since been implemented in California — has not yet exonerated Mr Cooper, Ms Harris later told the New York Times she felt “awful” about opposition to the testing.

Her departure from the race is the first of a top-tier candidate from the crowded nominating contest, and leaves a forthcoming December 19 Democratic debate without any candidates from non-white backgrounds.

Ms Harris entered the race as an immediate front-runner but then struggled to capitalise on momentum, which critics said was fuelled by her inability to articulate policy positions and the backlash of an attempt to attack rival former vice-president Joe Biden.

ABC/Reuters

Topics:

us-elections,

prisons-and-punishment,

leadership,

united-states

First posted

December 04, 2019 07:44:44





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