Kamala Harris drops out of 2020 presidential race: ‘I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign’

Chris Riotta
AFP/Getty

Kamala Harris is dropping out of the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries amid a wave of negative press surrounding her bid for the White House.

"'I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign," the California senator wrote in an email to supporters. "And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete."

Ms Harris said she could not “in good faith” continue running since she no longer believed there was a “path forward” for her in the crowded primary elections.

The former attorney-general skyrocketed in the polls following the first primary debate, in which she took on then-frontrunner Joe Biden and defended her record as a career prosecutor.

But she fell from grace after failing to maintain that support along the campaign trail, as other candidates developed strong ground games in key primary states, including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg.

The news came after reports indicated her campaign abruptly cancelled a fundraising event scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in New York. The announcement also followed reports of division within the ranks of her campaign, with one staff member writing in a resignation letter obtained by the New York Times they had "never seen an organisation treat its staff so poorly".

Kelly Mehlenbacher, who served as Ms Harris’ state operations director, wrote in her resignation letter: “While I still believe that Senator Harris is the strongest candidate to win in the General Election in 2020, I no longer have confidence in our campaign or its leadership.”

The resignation letter came amid a wave of layoffs throughout the campaign that were reportedly announced abruptly to aides who moved across the country to work for towards the senator’s election.

“It is not acceptable to me that we encouraged people to move from Washington, DC to Baltimore only to lay them off with no notice, with no plan for the campaign, and without thoughtful consideration of the personal consequences to them or the consequences that their absence would have on the remaining staff,” wrote Ms Mehlenbacher, who had worked on two previous presidential campaigns, in her letter. "It is unacceptable that we would lay off anyone that we hired only weeks earlier. It is unacceptable that with less than 90 days until Iowa we still do not have a real plan to win."

Ms Harris wrote in her email to supporters that it was “with deep regret – but also with deep gratitude – that I am suspending my campaign today”.

She added: “But I want to be clear with you: I am still very much in this fight. And I will keep fighting every day for what this campaign has been about. Justice for The People. All the people.”

The senator also said she would continue to do “everything in my power to defeat Donald Trump” and fight “for the future of our country”.

Her former fellow contenders quickly praised the senator’s campaign, including Mr Buttigieg, who wrote on Twitter that Ms Harris “has spent her career advocating for the voiceless and the vulnerable”.

“I am grateful for her leadership and the courage she brings to the Senate and the national debate,” he wrote. “I know she will continue to fight fearlessly on behalf of the American people – and our democracy.”

Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York senator who also ran for president in 2020 and has since dropped out of the race, described Ms Harris as a “friend” and “fearless champion for justice”.

“She and her team accomplished so much and I know she’s not done yet,” Ms Gillibrand wrote.

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