Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) became the latest 2020 Democrat to drop out of the presidential race Tuesday, ending a campaign that struggled to develop momentum with voters and donors.
“My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue,” Harris’ campaign email said. “I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete.”
Harris and her fellow former Democratic 2020 presidential candidates have spent at least $74 million, a number sure to rise as year-end campaign finance reports reveal their total spending, and as others abandon their flailing campaigns.
Harris spent the most among the departed presidential contenders, shelling out nearly $26 million through September.
Harris is the highest-profile — and the most well-funded — candidate to drop out of the race so far. The timing of Harris’ decision to drop out came just as a super PAC emerged to buoy her sinking Iowa effort with TV ads. The California senator, like former Vice President Joe Biden, initially expressed opposition to super PAC support but began to soften her stance as her campaign experienced financial troubles.
Harris was one of several 2020 Democrats to spend more than she raised in the most recent three-month fundraising period. Harris relied heavily on big-dollar donors, but even some of her top supporters weren’t all-in on her campaign. OpenSecrets found that nearly half of Harris’ bundlers were contributing to other 2020 Democrats in addition to backing her campaign.
Former Harris aides said the campaign was disorganized and without a clear strategy, according to a report from the New York Times. Her polling numbers in Iowa steadily dropped throughout September and October as better-funded candidates bombarded the airwaves with TV ads. One of Harris’ top aides recently left her campaign to work for Bloomberg.
Campaign Spending by Former 2020 Democrats
Democratic presidential candidates that dropped out of the race spent $74 million through September.
Kamala Harris $25,877,003
Kirsten Gillibrand $14,269,235
Beto O’Rourke $13,965,478
Jay Inslee $6,152,053
John Hickenlooper $3,319,140
Steve Bullock $2,949,946
Eric Swalwell $2,533,897
Seth Moulton $2,146,370
Bill de Blasio $1,343,060
Tim Ryan $1,138,535
Joe Sestak $166,724
Mike Gravel $93,298
Wayne Messam $62,666
The unsuccessful effort did net Harris increased national recognition and an influx of contact information for potential donors. In addition, the campaign still had $10.5 million cash on hand through September, money Harris may transfer back to her Senate account or use for other political efforts at the federal level.
The 13 former Democratic candidates may have spent a ton of money on unsuccessful efforts, but presidential dropouts often benefit from building up a wealth of new contacts. Just after dropping out of the presidential race, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee sent out fundraising emails to supporters on behalf of his 2020 reelection campaign. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), who spent $14 million on his failed presidential bid and has $3.3 million in the bank, is leaning on his newly expanded donor base to boost an effort to flip the Texas House from red to blue, the Texas Tribune reported.
As Democrats spend millions in the presidential primary, President Donald Trump continues to amass a sizable war chest while raising big money for the Republican National Committee and vulnerable GOP senators.