WASHINGTON — After launching her presidential campaign with a splash in Oakland, Calif., less than a year ago, California Sen. Kamala Harris made an equally stunning exit, telling supporters Tuesday that she did not have the resources to continue her 2020 bid.
“I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete,” Harris wrote in an email.
An early favorite in the race, she drops out two weeks before her home state is slated to host the sixth presidential debate in Los Angeles and exactly two months before the Iowa caucuses, where her campaign had increasingly focused its efforts.
Although Harris was lagging in polls in California, her departure from the race is likely to shake up the primary contest in the state, which votes on March 3, also known as Super Tuesday. She had the majority of endorsements from political officials in California and close ties to the state’s vast donor network.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom was slated to campaign for Harris in Iowa next weekend. On Tuesday, he tweeted, “@KamalaHarris is exiting the way she entered — with grace, grit & a love for America.”
Harris’ establishment support could now fall to some of the more moderate candidates in the race, like former Vice President Joe Biden, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, or South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg — the only candidate to outraise Harris in California in any quarter of 2019.
Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is also targeting California as part of a campaign strategy focused on Super Tuesday states.
Harris’ relationship with California’s Democratic donor base makes her financial troubles even more startling. And it underscores how important it is in the 2020 race to build a small-dollar online donor base, the way Democratic primary rivals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have.
Initially, Harris’ campaign was focused on South Carolina, the first state with a large African American population to vote in the Democratic primary. But Harris failed to make a dent in Biden’s lead with African American voters in the state. As her funds dwindled, her campaign laid off staff in its Baltimore headquarters, New Hampshire and other states.
— McClatchy Washington Bureau