Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand dropped out of the presidential race on Wednesday, abruptly ending a campaign that once looked poised to ride strong #MeToo credentials to formidability but instead collapsed amid surprisingly low polling and major fundraising struggles.
“I know this isn’t the result that we wanted,” the 52-year-old New York Senator said in an online video, in which she did not endorse any other 2020 Democratic White House hopeful. “But it’s important to know when it’s not your time.”
The decision came as Ms. Gillibrand failed to qualify for a debate coming next month in Houston by not hitting 2% in at least four approved public opinion polls while securing 130,000 unique donors despite spending millions on online and TV ads to woo people contributing as little as $1. That proved especially embarrassing since candidates who began the race with far lower national profiles, including businessman Andrew Yang, made it.
On the eve of Wednesday’s qualifying deadline, Ms. Gillibrand sat down with her family and decided that if a pair of polls set to be released the following morning didn’t help her meet the polling threshold, she’d drop out. Both ultimately showed her at 0%.
To get to the U.S. House, Ms. Gillibrand had topped an incumbent Republican in a conservative part of upstate New York in 2007, and she was appointed to the Senate two years later, filling the seat vacated by Hillary Clinton.
She later retained the seat during a 2010 special election, as well as in 2012 and 2018.
Vocal in the Senate on curbing sexual harassment and military sexual assault, and promoting equal pay for women and family leave, Ms. Gillibrand made those and her staunch defense of abortion rights the core of her presidential bid.
She stood out in the packed Democratic presidential field by becoming the first to declare she’d only appoint judges to the Supreme Court who consider the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalising abortion nationwide settled law, though most of her competitors quickly followed suit.