Cory Booker Drops Out of Democratic Presidential Race

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(Bloomberg) -- Cory Booker announced Monday that he is ending his presidential campaign.

“I’ll never abandon my faith in what we can accomplish when we join together,” the New Jersey senator said in a text message to supporters. “I will carry this fight forward -- I just won’t be doing it as a candidate for president this year.”

Booker campaigned as a moderate and the antithesis of President Donald Trump, promising to lead with “radical love.” As the first African American senator from New Jersey, serving his first term, he drew comparisons to former President Barack Obama, though his campaign never caught fire.

From the start, Booker hovered between 1% and 3% as fellow senators such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were strongly embraced by the progressive left. As his campaign languished, Booker added anti-Trump anger to his message of love.

Booker’s departure leaves just one black candidate seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, Deval Patrick. Booker had complained about a lack of diversity in the field, saying it didn’t represent the electorate.

In his announcement, Booker said he would run for re-election to the Senate.

In September, Booker’s campaign manager announced he would be forced to abandon his run if he did not raise $1.7 million by the end of the month. He was able to stay in the race after a nine-day donate-or-I’m-out ultimatum to supporters that produced his best fundraising of his campaign.

Almost from the start, he lagged behind Warren and Sanders in fundraising. He raised $6.6 million in the fourth quarter, bringing his total to $22.3 million for his campaign.

As one of the few black candidates in the race, Booker rebuked Joe Biden after the former vice president made comments about his dealings with two segregationist senators and asked him to apologize. Biden eventually did two weeks later.

Booker also spoke out against the Democratic National Committee’s decision to gradually stiffen the qualifications for debates, which he said hurt candidates of color more than white candidates. He was unable to make the cut for the debates in December and January, which won’t feature any non-white candidates.

“It’s a problem that we find ourselves in a situation where the December debate stage might very well have more billionaires on it than black people,” Booker said in a speech in Des Moines, Iowa days after Kamala Harris dropped out.

Booker might have ended his bid in the red. He told the Federal Election Commission in a filing Monday that he was ceasing all activity, save for retiring debt in accordance with FEC regulations. Candidates who suspend their campaigns, as Booker did, can continue to raise money to pay off debts, but contributions are capped at $2,800. Donations made while Booker was an active candidate count against the cap.

On the trail Booker, 50, often used his personal history to illustrate racial and economic inequality in the U.S. He recounted how his parents were affected by redlining and his experiences living in inner city Newark as mayor.

His policies centered on criminal justice reform, gun control and reducing income inequality through “baby bonds” as well as a tax credit to ensure renters didn’t spend more than a third of their income on rent.

Booker served as a high-profile mayor of inner-city Newark, New Jersey, from 2006 to 2013. He won a special election to the Senate in 2013 after the death of Frank Lautenberg. He won election to a full term in 2014.

Booker played football at Stanford University and went on to complete a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University before graduating Yale Law School.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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