Mayor Pete Buttigieg is ending his presidential campaign, the candidate reportedly informed his staff in a conference call on Sunday night. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana won the Iowa caucuses by a hair last month and finished second in New Hampshire, but did poorly in Nevada and South Carolina, where the self-proclaimed moderate won less than 3 percent of black voters — a dismal return from a critical segment of the Democratic electorate nationwide.
Buttigieg, the first openly gay major presidential candidate in American history, became a sensation within the Democratic Party last summer, and went on to raise $76 million before the year was finished. He was also the youngest candidate in the race, at 38, and the only veteran among the major candidates, having served as a naval intelligence officer in Afghanistan.
As far as the timing of his departure from the primary field — just two days before Super Tuesday — an aide who spoke with CNN’s Jake Tapper made it sound like Buttigieg is trying to make sure Bernie Sanders does not win the Democratic nomination. “He’s getting out for the same reason he got in: he believes we need to beat Donald Trump and that we need to make sure we have the strongest candidate possible to do it,” the unidentified aid reportedly said. If Buttigieg is readying an endorsement toward that aim, this may be a signal as to who he’s planning to back:
Intelligencer’s Gabriel Debenedetti noted another possible reason shortly after the news of Buttigieg’s exit broke — protecting his likely bright future in the Democratic Party:
But another issue, looking ahead to Tuesday, is how many early voters have now effectively wasted their votes on the candidate in massive states like California and Texas. FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver quickly pointed out that if Buttigieg’s walk-off is meant to damage Bernie, leaving the race at this point may work:
This is a developing news story and this post has been updated.