By Arturo Castañares
(Story updated March 2, 2020 @ 12:01 pm)
Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg was scheduled to hold a rally at San Ysidro High School on Monday, March 2, but, instead, announced he will be suspending his campaign on Sunday.
The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, 38, is the youngest of the Democratic candidates for president and is currently a distant third in the delegate count so far after four states have voted.
Buttigieg has gained 26 delegates, former Vice-President Joe Biden holds 53, and Vermont US Senator Bernie Sanders holds 57 delegates. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has 8 delegates and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has only 7.
“At this point in the race, the best way to keep faith with those goals and with the ideals our campaign has been built around is to step aside and help bring our party and our country together,” Buttigieg wrote in an email to supporters on Sunday night. “So tonight I am making the difficult decision to suspend my campaign for the presidency.”
Buttigieg decided to end his campaign after a disappointing finish in Saturday’s South Carolina primary election where he came in fourth place after having won the Iowa caucuses, finished second in New Hampshire, and came in second in Nevada behind Bernie Sanders. One especially troubling sign for Buttigieg’s chances in upcoming primaries in more ethnically diverse states was that he only won about 3% of the African-American vote in South Carolina.
While he is ending his own campaign for president, Buttigieg encouraged his supporters to remain active in the presidential elections.
“And I urge everyone who supported me or ever even considered it, to be prepared to do everything we can to support the eventual nominee — and the absolutely critical down-ballot races playing out across the country. There is simply too much at stake to retreat to the sidelines.”
Tuesday will be what is called ‘Super Tuesday’ when 14 states, including California, hold their primary elections. 1,357 delegates will be up for grabs in one day, accounting for nearly half of the total delegates awarded during the primaries. After Tuesday, the remaining 32 states represent the remaining 2,467 delegates.
California will allocate 415 delegates or 30% of Super Tuesday’s delegates. Political polls in California heading into the weekend showed Buttigieg only polling at about 9%, compared to Bernie Sanders leading with 34.3%, Elizabeth Warren at 17.3%, Joe Biden at 13%, and Michael Bloomberg at 10.5%.
The battle for delegates in important for candidates to win the Democratic nomination. A total of 1,991 delegates are needed to clinch the nomination outright. If no candidate reaches that number by the last primary election on June 2, then the candidate will go to the Democratic Convention in July without a presumptive nominee. In that case, delegates at the convention will vote on the floor through successive rounds of voting until a nominee is chosen in what is known as a contested convention. No Democratic convention has gone to a floor vote to chose its nominee since 1952.
Buttigieg had positioned himself as a moderate candidate and was competing with Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, and Amy Klobuchar for votes as alternative candidates to more liberal Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
Latinos in California make up about 40% of the population and about a third of all eligible voters. A recent poll commissioned by the Latino Community Foundation found that 74% of registered Latino voters say they plan to vote in the March 3 primary.
At the time of the poll, 31% of those Latinos surveyed said they planned to vote for Bernie Sanders, 22% for Joe Biden, and 11% for Elizabeth Warren. Buttigieg remained in single digital among Latino voters.
Buttigieg’s departure from the race will most likely help Joe Biden more than any other candidate. Many political observers predict Buttigieg would be considered for a Vice-Presidential running mate for Biden if Biden is able to win the nomination, or as a cabinet-level appointment under a Democratic president.
At 39 years old (b. Jan 19, 1982), Buttigieg may be a more viable candidate for president in future elections in 2024 and beyond.