BY SHERRY DEVLIN
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock dropped out of the race for the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential nomination early Monday.
In a statement released to the media, Bullock said: “While there were many obstacles we could not have anticipated when entering this race, it has become clear that in this moment, I won’t be able to break through to the top tier of this still-crowded field of candidates.”
And while Montana Democrats have urged Bullock to instead challenge Republican Sen. Steve Daines’ re-election bid, an aide told the New York Times he will not enter the Senate race.
Last May, Bullock became the 22nd Democrat to enter the free-for-all for that party’s presidential nomination. He delayed entering the race until after the 2019 Montana Legislature adjourned, he said, but never overcame the slow start – and never topped 1 percent in the polls.
In Monday’s announcement, Bullock hit on the themes that propelled his presidential campaign:
“I entered this race as a voice to win back the places we lost, bridge divides and rid our system of the corrupting influence of dark money,” he said. “While the concerns that propelled me to enter in the first place have not changed, I leave this race filled with gratitude and optimism, inspired and energized by the good people I’ve had the privilege of meeting over the course of the campaign.”
That message failed to resonate with voters, nationally or in Iowa, where he devoted the bulk of his campaign efforts. Even the endorsement of Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller failed to move the needle for Bullock, who also struggled to raise the kind of money needed for a presidential run.
Bullock’s second – and final, by virtue of term limits – term as Montana governor ends in 2020. In 2016, he won re-election despite Donald Trump carrying the state by 20 percentage points – a feat he drummed home on the presidential campaign trail, to no avail.
Bullock’s was the second Democratic campaign to close in as many days, with former Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania ending his bid on Sunday.
Early Monday, Bullock spokeswoman Galia Slayen told the New York Times that he will now devote himself to campaigning for other Democrats seeking state and national offices.
“While he plans to work hard to elect Democrats in the state and across the country in 2020, it will be in his capacity as a governor and a senior voice in the Democratic Party — not as a candidate for U.S. Senate,” Slayen told the Times.