The Fallen: 15 Democrats Who Dropped Out Before a Single 2020 Vote Was Cast

MIAMI, FLORIDA - JUNE 26: Chuck Todd of NBC News greets Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), former housing secretary Julian Castro, former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke and other candidates after the first night of the Democratic presidential debate on June 26, 2019 in Miami, Florida. A field of 20 Democratic presidential …
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The Democrat primary race started with an impressive number of candidates vying to take on President Trump and ultimately defeat him in the 2020 election, but one by one, some of the president’s fiercest critics have dropped out of the race, unable to garner support to take on the man they believe is public enemy number one.

Twenty-seven candidates have launched campaigns to defeat Trump, and less than half of those remain. The start of the primary saw passionate resistance warriors who were confident in their individual ability to defeat the president — warriors who included Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX). Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is the latest to drop his White House bid.

Here are some of the most significant resistance warriors who have failed in their attempts to take on the president.

1. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA)

Swalwell, the first candidate to drop out of the presidential race after weeks of abysmal polling numbers (he failed to garner more than zero percent nationally) — ran his short-lived campaign primarily on the issue of gun violence. He proposed a ban and buyback of “assault” weapons and floated limits on ammunition ownership. He also repeated false narratives about the president, claiming that Trump’s attempt to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census was an effort to “erase the existence of Hispanic families in America”:

2. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) 

The Massachusetts lawmaker followed suit, dropping out of the presidential race in August. He once described Trump as a domestic enemy of the Constitution:

3. Gov. Jay Inslee

The Washington governor, who focused his campaign almost entirely on the issue of climate change, also ended his bid in August. He echoed the sentiment of many of his competitors, calling Trump a “white nationalist”:

4. John Hickenlooper

The former Colorado governor left the race in August as well. He faced immense backlash for attempting to position himself as a more “moderate” candidate and was booed by Democrat activists at the California Democrat Convention after exclaiming that socialism is not the answer to defeat Trump.

He described Trump as “malpractice personified” during CNN’s debate over the summer. He is now running for Senate:

5. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Gillibrand dropped out of the presidential race in August after failing to meet the requirements to participate in the third Democrat debate.

She made waves after admitting in an interview that she harbored anger against family members who voted for Trump in 2016.

“I hate to admit this fact, but I have uncles who voted for Trump,” Gillibrand told the Washington Post.

“I have not spoken to them about it so I can’t tell you why. I’m still angry,” she added.

She also frequently accused Trump of fueling white supremacy, telling Face the Nation in August that Trump “truly emboldened white supremacy and hate crimes across this country.”

She said in another interview with MSNBC in August:

He has created a national emergency of rampant white nationalism across the country. And I think white national terrorism is a national emergency I think we need to blame President Trump and the rhetoric he’s used since he got elected.

6. Mayor Bill de Blasio (D)

The New York mayor folded up his presidential bid in September after failing to see over one percent support in the polls.

“The tall candidate almost always wins,” the mayor said during an appearance on The Daily Show in August. “And I’m taller than Donald Trump. Do the math.”

That same month, de Blasio only managed to draw 15 people during a campaign stop in Iowa.

A poll released by Siena College in August showed Trump having a higher favorability rating than the mayor in New York:

7. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH)

The Ohio lawmaker, who was also considered a more “moderate” candidate, announced his withdrawal from the race in October. He suggested that “white supremacists think that Donald Trump is a white supremacist” during an appearance on Fox News Sunday in August.

He also suggested that Trump is “incapable of feeling empathy for people” and accused him of being “vicious” and “crude” in the aftermath of the shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas:

8. Beto O’ Rourke (D)

The former Texas lawmaker, who spent $14 million on his failed White House bid, dropped out of the race in November, conceding that his campaign did not have the “means to move forward successfully.”

“I want to be in it. Man, I’m just born to be in it,” an eager O’Rourke told Vanity Fair prior to announcing his presidential bid.

He made headlines for frequently posting videos of his everyday life, live-streaming a dentist appointment, his trip to the barber, and his flu shot.

He also generated controversy after proclaiming, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.”

O’Rourke frequently accused Trump of inciting violence and promoting racism and compared the president to Hitler.

“This idea from Goebbels and Hitler that the bigger the lie and the more often you repeat it, the more likely people are to believe it,” he said in an interview with MSNBC’s Al Sharpton. “That is Donald Trump to a T”:

9. Mayor Wayne Messam

Perhaps one of the lesser-known candidates, the mayor of Miramar, Florida, ended his presidential bid in November, bragging about “nearly making the first debate and polling just behind the top four candidates in my battle ground state of Florida in a recent Florida Atlantic University Poll.”

He contended the Trump administration was racist in regard to its positions on immigration and backed impeachment proceedings against the president as early as April:

10. Joe Sestak

The former Pennsylvania congressman and Navy veteran, another lesser-known candidate, dropped his presidential bid in December after failing to make it into a single Democrat debate.

He too has suggested that Trump has set a bad tone in terms of rhetoric and has, therefore, fueled an atmosphere of hate:

11. Gov. Steve Bullock

Bullock, Montana’s governor who told voters in Iowa that only he would be able to win over Iowa, Montana, Pennsylvania, and Michigan in 2020, ended his campaign in December after failing to garner national attention.

He stated in September that he saw “no other option” than to impeach Trump.

He has also said that Trump is “using immigration to not only rip families apart but this country apart.”

12. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)

The California senator ended her presidential bid in December after failing to maintain the support she gained after attacking Joe Biden (D) during the summer. She also failed to see significant support in her home state.

She tried a variety of methods to generate enthusiasm, from preparing suppers in Iowans’ homes to posting multiple cooking videos to social media.

The former presidential hopeful inadvertently touted her most significant failures in a campaign hype video in November, writing:

It’s been three years to the day since our national nightmare was elected president. Since then, I’ve taken on Jeff Sessions, Bill Barr, Brett Kavanaugh, and more in the Senate. And I’m ready to defeat Trump in 2020.

All three were ultimately confirmed.

During an appearance on MSNBC’s Hardball in November, Harris referred to Trump as “a criminal living in the White House”:

13. Julián Castro (D)

The former HUD secretary dropped out of the presidential race at the start of the new year, vowing to “keep fighting for an America where everyone counts.” He suggested during an appearance on MSNBC in December that Republicans “get off” on Trump’s “cruelty” and asserted that Trump’s critique of climate activist Greta Thunberg, who was named TIME’s Person of the Year, made him “unfit” for office”:

14. Marianne Williamson

The author and self-help guru suspended her presidential campaign last week with a final word to supporters and the declaration that “love will prevail.”

She was also a strong critic of the president, famously accusing Trump of bringing about a “dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred.”

She also addressed Trump directly during the Democrat debate in June, warning that she was going to “harness love for political purposes.”

“I will meet you on that field and, sir, love will win,” she added:

15. Cory Booker (D)

Booker, also known as “Spartacus,” is the latest Democrat candidate to drop his White House bid, announcing the end of his campaign on Monday. He once claimed he was the “only person” who could “turn out the vote and win in a heavily black electorate.”

He also failed to garner significant support in the polls and had failed to qualify for Tuesday’s debate in Des Moines, Iowa.

Booker had long warned of the danger of a Trump re-election, telling MSNBC in October that it “means our chances of dealing with global climate change have been dramatically reduced.”

He also said that “We have become so much more of a fear-based culture because of a president from his immigration policies” and touted the false Charlottesville narrative, proclaiming that the president failed to condemn Nazis.

Only six candidates — none of whom exhibit racial diversity, which is something the party championed and even bragged about months ago — will participate in Tuesday’s debate.


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