The 2020 Democratic Primary kicked off with a historic record of diverse candidates, including six women, three African Americans, one Latinx, and two Asian contenders. However, just a couple weeks into 2020, the withdrawal of New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker from the race leaves just one other black candidate in the running: former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.
On Monday, Booker suspended his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination after struggling to gain traction in the polls and failing to make the cut for the upcoming debate. In an email to supporters obtained by NBC News, the two-term U.S. senator admitted that his campaign was short on funding and that he had no clear path to victory.
“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,” reads the memo. “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.”
During his run, Booker unveiled a $100 billion plan to invest in HBCUs, an aggressive gun control proposal, and a “baby bonds” program that sought to give every American-born child a $1,000 savings account to reduce the racial wealth gap. He also introduced the first federal bill that bans natural hair discrimination last month. Still, the Yale and Stanford University graduate never picked up steam following the launch of his campaign in February.
It’s with a full heart that I share this news—I’m suspending my campaign for president.
To my team, supporters, and everyone who gave me a shot—thank you. I am so proud of what we built, and I feel nothing but faith in what we can accomplish together. pic.twitter.com/Fxvc549vlJ
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) January 13, 2020
Booker’s exit from the race follows the departure of California Sen. Kamala Harris, former Obama administration official Julian Castro, who was the only Latinx in the field, and Wayne Messam, a black politician that few had heard of. As a result, former Gov. Patrick is now the only black candidate remaining in the 12-candidate race. His campaign, however, entered the race late and has never left the ground.
The only other non-whites still in the field are Andrew Yang, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who is Samoan American. Meanwhile, all of the top-tier candidates are white: former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
From Rise to Fall
Booker was once considered a rising star in the Democratic Party. As mayor of Newark, New Jersey, he made national news for a number of heroic acts, including running into a burning building to save a woman and rescuing a freezing dog. He also gained popularity as one of the early politicians to use social media. As a result, Oprah Winfrey lauded him as the “rock star mayor” and he was often compared to former President Barack Obama.
After serving as a mayor from 2006 to 2013, he won a seat in the Senate. Nevertheless, despite his charm and impressive background, his presidential campaign struggled to connect with voters. Even though he framed himself as an uplifting and unifying figure, he polled around 2% nationally, according to the RealClearPolitics, and failed to qualify for several debates in recent months.