Moulton drops out of presidential race after struggling to gain traction

Moulton drops out of presidential race after struggling to gain traction
© Greg Nash

Rep. Seth MoultonSeth MoultonYoung insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Wall Street ends volatile month in major test for Trump The Hill's Morning Report — Hurricane headed for Florida changes Trump's travel plans MORE (D-Mass.) announced Friday he will drop out of the 2020 presidential contest, making him the third candidate in a little more than a week to exit the Democratic primary.

"Today, I want to use this opportunity, with all of you here, to announce that I am ending my campaign for president," Moulton is expected to say later in the day at the Democratic National Committee’s summer meeting in San Francisco.

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"Though this campaign is not ending the way we hoped, I am leaving this race knowing that we raised issues that are vitally important to the American people and our future."

Moulton, a Harvard-educated Marine veteran, launched his bid for the Democratic nomination in April. But his candidacy never gained traction and he failed twice to make the debate stage. With the deadline to qualify for the third primary debates in September fast approaching, Moulton was almost certain to fall short once again. 

His exit from the race was first reported on Friday by The New York Times.

He’s the third candidate since last week to exit the nominating contest. On Aug. 15, former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperLeft off debate stage, Bullock all-in on Iowa Yang says he would not run as a third-party candidate The Hill's Morning Report - Hurricane Dorian devastates the Bahamas, creeps along Florida coast MORE ended his presidential bid, and on Wednesday, Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeOvernight Energy: Trump officials formally revoke California emissions waiver | EPA's Wheeler dodges questions about targeting San Francisco over homelessness | 2020 Dems duke it out at second climate forum Yang floats nominating Inslee as 'climate czar' The Hill's Campaign Report: Democrats clash over future of party in heated debate MORE did the same, saying in an appearance on MSNBC that he no longer saw a viable path to the nomination.

All three men will seek other offices in 2020. Moulton said on Friday that he will run for reelection to his House seat. Inslee is expected to seek a third term as governor, while Hickenlooper announced on Thursday that he would mount a Senate bid in Colorado. 

Moulton, who won his House seat in 2014 after ousting Democratic incumbent John TierneyJohn F. TierneyYoung insurgents aren't rushing to Kennedy's side in Markey fight Moulton drops out of presidential race after struggling to gain traction Stanley McChrystal endorses Moulton for president MORE in a primary, made a name for himself in Congress as a kind of maverick willing to criticize his own party’s leadership, most notably Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPatagonia says to shut stores for a few hours during Global Climate Strike Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Progressives push for changes to Pelosi drug pricing plan MORE (D-Calif.).

Prior to announcing his White House bid, speculation swirled that he could seek to challenge Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeySanders defends job losses from ending use of fossil fuels The Hill's Morning Report - Pompeo condemns Iran for 'act of war' while Trump moves with caution Defense bill talks set to start amid wall fight MORE (D-Mass.) for his seat in 2020. He opted instead to enter the already-crowded Democratic presidential field.

Throughout his campaign, he struggled to break out in polls and in fundraising. Most surveys showed him lingering at around 1 percent support or less. And in the second quarter of the year, his campaign reported a $1.2 million fundraising haul, putting him among the race’s lowest fundraisers.

In a memo sent to reporters on Friday, Moulton’s campaign acknowledged that he “always faced long odds” in his bid for the Democratic nomination, citing the congressman’s relatively late entrance into the race and low name recognition in the race of high-profile rivals.

In an interview with the Times, Moulton said he had no immediate plans to endorse another candidate in the race, but noted that three candidates — former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGiuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it Trump whistleblower complaint involves Ukraine: report MORE, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Krystal Ball calls on Sanders to follow Yang's lead on war on drugs Buttigieg calls Warren 'evasive' on Medicare for all MORE (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Buttigieg calls Warren 'evasive' on Medicare for all Sanders hits 1 million donors MORE (D-Mass.) — were on track to dominate the field.

“I think it’s evident that this is now a three-way race between Biden, Warren and Sanders, and really it’s a debate about how far left the party should go,” Moulton, 40, said.

In a separate interview with The Washington Post, Moulton spoke fondly of Biden, who like Moulton represents a more centrist-minded wing of the Democratic Party. Biden, he said, “would make a fantastic president.”

“He’s a mentor and a friend, and I’ve been impressed by the campaign he has run so far,” Moulton said.