- Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg will announce he is leaving the 2020 presidential primary on Sunday after a disappointing fourth place finish in the South Carolina primary, his campaign confirmed to Insider.
- Buttigieg leaves the race after an unexpectedly strong bid that included winning the Iowa caucuses and coming in second in the New Hampshire primary.
- His candidacy began gaining traction last spring with his near-constant appearances on television and interviews with print and digital publications.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg will drop out of the 2020 race on Sunday night, his campaign confirmed to Insider. He’s scheduled to make the announcement in a speech scheduled to begin at 8:30 on Sunday night in his hometown of South Bend, Indiana.
The news comes just a day after Buttigieg’s disappointing fourth place finish in the South Carolina primary, where he won the support of just three percent of the state’s black voters.
Buttigieg’s candidacy began gaining unexpected traction last spring as he blanketed national media with near-constant appearances on television and interviews with print and digital publications. The early coverage of the then-mayor was overwhelmingly positive as he carved out a place in the race as a new voice and a fresh face.
His campaign raised an astounding $76 million last year as Buttigieg built a strong following among white Democrats looking for a fresh, young face and an articulate, even-keeled presence in a race dominated by veteran politicians and septuagenarians.
While Buttigieg had impressive showings in the the first two primary contests, winning the Iowa caucus and finishing second place in New Hampshire, his support didn’t translate to the more diverse electorates in Nevada and South Carolina, where he failed to gain traction among Hispanic and black voters.
Just two days out from Super Tuesday, the campaign was running low on cash and facing tough contests all across the country.
Buttigieg tangled with his competitors, accusing the more progressive candidates in the race of offering too radical of an agenda on healthcare, college affordability, and climate change. Buttigieg was adamant that Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are offering too progressive of a policy agenda to win over key swing state voters in a general election.
He called Sanders, the primary frontrunner, “polarizing” and argued his policies would “go beyond reform and reorder the economy in ways most Democrats — not to mention most Americans — don’t support.”
He ran on a public option — or “Medicare for all who want it” — as an alternative to single-payer healthcare, more conservative approaches to student debt and taxes, and controversially lamented the national debt.
A Midwestern moderate
Buttigieg told Insider in a March interview that he hoped to reframe the policy debate around values and make pragmatic the new progressive.
The then-second term mayor was slow to put forward policy proposals and spent the first several months of his campaign focused on broad arguments about values. He argued that conservatives had coopted concepts like freedom, security, and democracy, while liberals buried values-based messaging in 14-point plans.
“We often convey our positions and our values in a way that would make it almost psychologically impossible for a conservative person who might be open to what we have to say, for the first time in a long time, to actually get there,” he told Insider.
He accused his party of ignoring the industrial Midwest and deprioritizing local and state races, which he said led Democrats to lose hundreds of seats during Obama’s eight years. But he did offer a few progressive proposals, including abolishing the electoral college and packing the Supreme Court, in the first months of his campaign.
A former Navy Reserve officer who was deployed to Afghanistan, a Harvard-educated Rhodes scholar, and a gay millennial mayor in a deep-red state, Buttigieg has “a bio that reads like it was written by Aaron Sorkin,” as the MSNBC host Chris Hayes put it. He regularly emphasized that he was the only 2020 candidate living a “middle-class lifestyle in middle America” and wasn’t a millionaire or billionaire.