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 MoultonIt's time for Congress to establish a national mental health crisis number Bill introduced to give special immigrant visas to Kurds who helped US in Syria Tim Ryan drops out of 2020 presidential race 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 HickenlooperKrystal Ball dismisses Rahm Emanuel's 'Medicare for All' criticism as a 'corporatist mantra' Trump says remark about Colorado border wall was made 'kiddingly' Colorado governor mocks Trump for saying he's building wall there MORE ended his presidential bid, and on Wednesday, Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeO'Rourke ends presidential bid Sunrise Movement organizer: Sanders, Warren boast strongest climate change plans Overnight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at 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 PelosiImpeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Klobuchar: 'I have seen no reason why' Hunter Biden would need to testify Johnson dismisses testimony from White House officials contradicting Trump as 'just their impression' MORE (D-Calif.).

Prior to announcing his White House bid, speculation swirled that he could seek to challenge Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDemocrats unifying against Joe Kennedy Senate bid States, green groups challenge rollback of Obama-era lightbulb rules Overnight Energy: Dems ask Trump UN ambassador to recuse from Paris climate dealings | Green group sues agencies for records on climate science | Dem wants answers on Keystone oil spill 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 BidenImpeachment week: Trump probe hits crucial point Trump DACA fight hits Supreme Court Juan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete MORE, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race Democrats debate how to defeat Trump: fight or heal MORE (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJuan Williams: Honesty, homophobia and Mayor Pete Trump DACA fight hits Supreme Court Democrats on edge as Iowa points to chaotic race 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.