Government

Kamala Harris drops out of presidential race

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris arrives at the Finkenauer Fish Fry at the Hawkeye Downs Expo Center in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris arrives at the Finkenauer Fish Fry at the Hawkeye Downs Expo Center in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris suspended her presidential run Tuesday, according to two sources close to the campaign, marking a lackluster end to an initially soaring presidential bid premised on her personal biography and prosecutorial acumen. Ultimately, her run foundered with a muddled purpose, campaign infighting and an inability to sustain support from vital Democratic voting blocs, particularly African Americans.

In an email to supporters, Harris blamed her campaign’s end on a lack of money.

“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,” she wrote. “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. So, to you my supporters, it is with deep regret — but also with deep gratitude — that I am suspending my campaign today.”

Harris, a freshman senator from California, was seen as a rising star, representing the more youthful and diverse voters that have become the base of the Democratic Party. Her high-profile interrogations of Trump administration officials in Senate hearings rocketed her to national acclaim, and her dazzling campaign launch established her in the top-tier of a crowded Democratic field.

But Harris, 55, struggled to articulate a distinct reason for her candidacy, and the campaign attempted to reroute midway through the year for a last-ditch effort to win over Iowa, a state she had initially placed little emphasis on in her primary strategy.

Born in Oakland and raised mainly in Berkeley, Harris is the daughter of immigrants: Shyamala Gopalan, who was a breast cancer researcher from India, and Donald Harris, a Jamaican economist who taught at Stanford University.

Her biracial background was initially seen as a major asset at a time when African Americans, Latinos and Asians are major blocs in the Democratic coalition. But Harris’ uneven performance in the campaign, especially her fumbling on health care, drove her poll ratings downward and she never recovered.

Harris has never lost an election. A career prosecutor, she was elected San Francisco district attorney in 2003, then state attorney general in 2010. She won her U.S. Senate seat six years later and quickly made a name for herself as a sharp interrogator of Trump administration appointees, including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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