Diversity of Democratic field shrinks as Cory Booker suspends 2020 campaign

"I will carry this fight forward," Booker says. "I just won’t be doing it as a candidate for president this year"

By Igor Derysh

Senior News Editor

Published January 13, 2020 12:58PM (EST)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., waits to be introduced during a campaign stop in Nashua, N.H., Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., waits to be introduced during a campaign stop in Nashua, N.H., Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., announced that he has suspended his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination Monday.

Booker was part of the most diverse Democratic field in history, but his departure leaves former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick as the lone black candidate who remains in the party's nominating contest. Booker’s announcement came after he struggled to move above 2 percent in polls and failed to qualify for the last debate.

"Nearly one year ago, I got in the race for president, because I believed to my core that the answer to the common pain Americans are feeling right now — the answer to Donald Trump’s hatred and division — is to reignite our spirit of common purpose to take on our biggest challenges and build a more just and fair country for everyone," Booker said in an email to supporters. "I’ve always believed that. I still believe that. I’m proud I never compromised my faith in these principles during this campaign to score political points or tear down others."

"And maybe I’m stubborn, but I’ll never abandon my faith in what we can accomplish when we join together," he added. "I will carry this fight forward. I just won’t be doing it as a candidate for president this year. Friend, it’s with a full heart that I share this news: I’ve made the decision to suspend my campaign for president."

Booker said in the email that he was unable to raise enough money to grow his campaign.

"It was a difficult decision to make, but I got in this race to win, and I’ve always said I wouldn’t continue if there was no longer a path to victory," he said. "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 and because the urgent business of impeachment will rightly be keeping me in Washington."

Booker’s campaign reported raising $6.6 million in the last quarter of 2019, while candidates at the top of the pack touted hauls of more than $20 million.

Booker, whose Senate term is up this year, will instead run for re-election.

Hes is the latest candidate of color to drop out after failing to garner enough money and support. His departure comes days after former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro announced he would suspend his campaign and support Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., dropped out last month after also struggling to raise enough money to sustain her campaign.

Booker, who launched his campaign on the first day of Black History Month, touted his record as mayor of Newark, N.J., and his calls for racial justice as the centerpiece of his campaign. But he also drew criticism for his support of charter schools and his ties to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley.

Booker told The Atlantic that he could not spend as much time as he would have wanted in Iowa because of his obligations in the Senate.

“We would have run away with this,” he lamented.

Fellow candidates praised Booker on his way out.

“I will miss my friend Cory Booker so much on the campaign trail,” tweeted Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. “We were friends before this started and are even better friends now. The one thing about Cory—he never stops standing up for what is right...so, the best is yet to come!”

“Cory Booker - my friend, my brother,” wrote entrepreneur Andrew Yang. “Running alongside you has been one of the joyous parts of this race. You inspire me and millions of other Americans to be better and do better. I will miss seeing you and Rosario on the trail, but not for long. The fight continues.”

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, fired off a sarcastic tweet suggesting that he was not worried about facing Booker in the general election.

“Really Big Breaking News (Kidding): Booker, who was in zero polling territory, just dropped out of the Democrat Presidential Primary Race,” he tweeted. “Now I can rest easy tonight. I was sooo concerned that I would someday have to go head to head with him!”

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's senior news editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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