US Senator Cory Booker, the last African-American candidate with a realistic shot at the Democratic presidential nomination, dropped out of the race Monday, blaming a lack of funds and saying he saw no path to victory.
“It’s with a full heart that I share this news” to suspend his campaign, Booker said in a statement on the eve of the last Democratic debate before Iowa kicks off the nomination voting on February 3.
“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,” Booker said.
The New Jersey senator, a skillful orator, said his role as a juror in the upcoming impeachment trial of President Donald Trump would further cramp his fundraising abilities, “because the urgent business of impeachment will rightly be keeping me in Washington.”
The crowded Democratic field had been praised for being the most diverse in history, but the departure of Booker, 50, now leaves just one black candidate in the race, Deval Patrick, among the dozen candidates.
But the former Massachusetts governor is barely registering in the polls.
All six candidates who qualified for Tuesday’s debate — former vice president Joe Biden, senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg and billionaire activist Tom Steyer — are white.
Booker, an effervescent presence on the trail, had called for a revival of civic grace, saying moral clarity was necessary in trying times.
He earned praise from Democratic voters for advocating for criminal justice reform, called for raising taxes on the wealthy, and sought reforms to the health care system.
But his campaign never caught fire, and in recent months he languished at around two percent support nationally.
Trump adopted his typical derisive tone against the latest Democrat to exit the race.
“Now I can rest easy tonight,” the president tweeted. “I was sooo concerned that I would someday have to go head to head with him!”
Booker earned praise and gratitude from fellow Democratic candidates. “You made our politics better just by running,” Biden said.