Gabbard won't seek reelection to Congress, focuses on presidential bid

Rep. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Gabbard, Buttigieg battle over use of military in Mexico MORE (D-Hawaii) announced early Friday morning that she would not seek reelection to Congress as she continues her bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

The move is likely to increase speculation that Gabbard, who is in single digits in Democratic polls, will run as a third-party candidate.

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She has ruled out that possibility, but the idea was raised by 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonAs Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Harris rips Gabbard over Fox appearances during Obama years Steyer, Gabbard and Yang shut out of early minutes of Democratic debate MORE earlier this month. 

In a series of tweets, the Iraq War veteran who was first elected to the House in 2012 thanked “the people of Hawai'i for allowing me to serve you in Congress” while asking for their support for her White House campaign.

 

Gabbard was facing a primary bid from Hawaii state Sen. Kai Kahele (D), who thanked the congresswoman for her service in a statement while saying that her presidential bid had left her district “without a voice in Washington.”

“Since announcing her Presidential candidacy in January 2019, Congresswoman Gabbard has worked hard visiting towns and cities across the United States,” Kahele said in a statement shortly after Gabbard's announcement. “This dedication, while worthy of admiration, meant that her congressional district was often left without a voice in Washington, D.C. I wholly respect and appreciate the Congresswoman’s decision not to seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives as she pursues the Presidency. I thank her for her service, and I wish her and her family the best going forward.” 

Gabbard has struggled to gain ground in the crowded 2020 Democratic field. In a RealClearPolitics average of polls, she is currently in 10th place with 1.3 percent support.

She has not yet reached the Democratic National Committee qualification thresholds for the debate in November. She has met the threshold in one of four qualifying polls she would need to be on the stage.

In recent weeks, Gabbard has made headlines for feuding with Clinton.

The former secretary of State appeared to suggest last week that Gabbard was a "Russian asset" and was being groomed for a third-party run. The congresswoman has in turn called Clinton the "queen of warmongers."

Updated at 8:08 a.m.