Kamala Harris, the senator of Indian heritage, has pulled out of the race for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination as she tumbled in the polls despite a strong start and was running short of campaign finance.
“It is with deep regret – but also with deep gratitude – that I am suspending my campaign today,” she tweeted on Tuesday.
She said in a message to her supporters that the “truth today” is “my campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”
“I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life,” she added.
Harris, who is from California is of partial Indian descent – her mother is the late cancer researcher Shyamal Gopalan and her father, Donald Harris, is African Jamaican.
Now there are only six serious candidates left to participate in the upcoming debate – all of them white in a party that trumpets its diversity and its caring for minorities – after Harris, who qualified for it dropped out.
She is the second candidate of Indian heritage to try for a major party’s presidential nomination.
Bobby Jindal, the former governor of Louisiana, ran against President Donald Trump in 2015 for the Republican Party nomination for the 2016 election.
But unlike Harris who was initially a strong contender getting as much as 15 per cent support in polls, he polled only about 1 per cent and quit the race in less than six months. Memorably he had called Trump a “narcissist” and his campaign a “carnival” act, shutting him off from any administration position.
Harris started out strong holding the third spot in the polls behind former Vice President Joe Biden and the socialist Bernie Sanders from December last year through April.
After a powerful showing in the Democratic Party debate in June she surged to the second spot in July behind Biden with 15 per cent support in the RealClear Politics aggregation of polls.
By this week she had tumbled to the fifth place with 3.4 per cent support.
However, a Survey USA poll showed her beating Trump 47 per cent to 42 per cent if she ran against him.
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who owns a news and financial information company, and former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, an African American, joined the race only last month but have yet to make an impact and have not qualified for the debate.
Two other candidates, Joe Sestak and Joe Bullock also quit the race over the last two days, but unlike Harris they were not considered top tier and had not qualified for next weeks debate.
Harris has identified primarily with the African American community, an influential segment of the Democratic Party base. Lately though, she had stepped up her outreach to Indian Americans, who are a rich source of campaign contributions, even creating a video of her making masala dosa with Mindy Kaling, an actress and writer, while discussing their shared Chennai heritage.
Biden told reporters that he had “mixed emotions” about her quitting the race, calling her a “first-rate intellect, a first-rate candidate and a real competitor.”
But he did not answer a reporter who asked if he would consider her for vice president on his ticket.
Harris’s sudden surge in the polls in July came after she confronted Biden in the June debate over his opposition to busing, the transporting of children across school areas to desegregate them which is an issue of importance to African Americans.
Her decline started after Tulsi Gabbard, the Hindu American candidate, challenged her role as prosecutor in the next debate in July accusing her of locking up people for the minor marijuana offences and insisting on cash bail – both of which affected African American and Latino communities disproportionately.
Harris had earlier served as the attorney general of California and as the local prosecutor in San Francisco.
Biden has the most support among African Americans – about 40 per cent in several polls – and neither Harris nor Booker could dent it. Harris had only 8 per cent support among African Americans according to an October poll.
She and Gabbard carried on their feud into the November debate.
When Gabbard criticised the party leadership and called Hillary Clinton the “personification of the rot” in the party, Harris accused her of buddying up to a Trump adviser to meet him and attacked her for meeting Syrian leader Hafez al Assad. Gabbard retorted she was trafficking in “lies and smear.”
Gabbard has not qualified so far to participate in next week’s debate.