(CN) – Floundering in the polls and hindered by infighting and campaign missteps, California Senator Kamala Harris announced Tuesday she is dropping her upstart presidential bid due to a lack of funding.
The freshman senator rose near the top of polls this summer after a viral exchange with former Vice President Joe Biden on race during a Democratic debate, but she failed to capitalize on the momentum. The former DA and state attorney general cast herself as the “progressive prosecutor” best fit to take down President Donald Trump in November 2020.
Harris, 55, had switched her focus to Iowa in recent weeks in hopes of rescuing her campaign, but said Tuesday that a lack of cash is making it hard for her to compete with the remaining Democratic candidates.
“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 said in a blog post. “In good faith, I can’t tell you, my supporters and volunteers, that I have a path forward if I don’t believe I do.”
Once viewed by pundits as a “top-tier candidate” – something the Oakland, California, native called herself in the early days of her compaign – Harris struggled to gain traction in the crowded Democratic field. Critics said her campaign didn’t move forward after her viral moment with Biden and she was widely criticized for not championing a particular issue.
Despite appearances in each of the Democratic debates, Harris ultimately couldn’t cut through the political noise and separate from the field over the summer and fall.
Fundraising dollars slowed as poll after poll pinned the Californian in single digits and well behind Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Just 3% of likely voters in a national poll released before Thanksgiving supported Harris, the same as Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and the newest candidate to enter the race, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
After spending Thanksgiving with her family in Iowa, Harris said she decided it was time to suspend her campaign.
“I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life,” Harris said to her supporters and staffers. “My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”
Harris’ exit means there are no candidates of color qualified for the next Democratic debate on Dec. 19 in Los Angeles, though New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and businessman Andrew Yang say they are close.
The remaining candidates lavished praise on Harris through social media on Tuesday.
“Thank you Kamala Harris for running a spirited and issue-oriented campaign. I look forward to working with you to defeat the most dangerous president in history and ending the hatred and divisiveness that he has created,” Sanders said in a tweet.
Julian Castro, the former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, said Harris ran her campaign with class but was partly undone by unfair media coverage that held her to a “different standard.” Castro said he was thankful for Harris’ leadership and friendship.
“As a child of immigrants, she’s been a lifelong fighter for opportunity and justice for all Americans, and I’m glad she’ll keep fighting for an America where everyone counts,” Castro said.
Harris joins New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee, Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke, and California Congressman Eric Swalwell in exiting before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.
A graduate of Howard University and University of Hastings College of the Law, Harris served as a local prosecutor before being elected as California’s first female, black and Asian American attorney general. California voters overwhelmingly sent her to the U.S. Senate in 2016, where she became the state’s first black senator and just the second black woman to serve in the chamber.
Harris launched her campaign last January in Oakland, where she ripped into President Donald Trump and promised a crowd of about 20,000 that she would overturn his tax cuts and “giveaways” to corporations.
Over the next several months on the campaign trail, Harris introduced plans to end the death penalty and money bail, close the gender pay gap, major raises for teachers and limits on pharmaceutical profits. She scored noteworthy endorsements from California politicians such as Gov. Gavin Newsom and Rep. Salud Carbajal, as well as the United Farm Workers union.
But as momentum waned, Harris had to cut staffers in crucial early voting states like New Hampshire and South Carolina, instead going all in in Iowa. Bad press followed as a senior campaign official said in a leaked resignation letter that she didn’t have confidence in the campaign’s leadership and lamented the sudden layoffs.
Nonetheless, Harris promised Tuesday to continue pushing back against the president and return to the Senate.
“And I want to be clear: although I am no longer running for president, I will do everything in my power to defeat Donald Trump and fight for the future of our country and the best of who we are,” Harris said.