Sen. Kamala Harris of California dropped out of the Democratic presidential race on Tuesday after months of low poll numbers, a deflating comedown for a campaign that began with significant promise.
The decision came after upheaval among staff and disarray among Harris’ own allies. She told supporters in an email on Tuesday that she lacked the money needed to fully finance a competitive campaign.
“My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue,” Harris wrote.
The announcement is perhaps the most sudden development to date in a Democratic presidential campaign where Harris began in the top tier.
A pair of California-based Democratic strategists, Dan Newman and Brian Brokaw, had just secured the money and the implicit sign off from Harris’ campaign to begin a super PAC in support of her candidacy. The group, named People Standing Strong, was to begin a $1 million ad buy in Iowa on Wednesday in hopes of boosting her chances. Her campaign itself had been unable to afford ads in the state since September.
Over the holiday weekend, after a New York Times story detailed her campaign’s unraveling, Harris did a financial audit of her operation, according to a senior aide. She also held conversations with her advisers, before deciding to drop out late Monday night, according to campaign officials.
One of Harris’ aides, who spoke with her about her decision, said her instinct was to keep fighting but that she was told she’d have to go into debt to sustain her campaign.
Harris, the barrier-breaking prosecutor and second black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate, had been trending downward for months. After her launch rally, she almost immediately faced questions about where she fit on the party’s ideological spectrum.
Still, Harris had already qualified for the next presidential debate, scheduled for later this month, the only non-white candidate to do so thus far. Without her, Democrats may have an all-white debate stage after beginning the primaries with the most racially diverse field in history, though candidates like Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and businessman Andrew Yang may still qualify in the coming weeks.