Kirsten Gillibrand Drops Out Of Presidential Race

Kirsten Gillibrand has dropped out of a Presidential race few people realized she was in.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who entered the race for the Democratic nomination back in September, announced late yesterday that she was dropping out of the race:

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand dropped out of the presidential race Wednesday evening, pledging to help the eventual Democratic nominee beat President Donald Trump next year.

The New York Democrat, who ran a distinctly feminist campaign, failed to meet the Democratic National Committee’s criteria for the committee’s September presidential debate. A statement released by her campaign cited her lack of “access to the debate” stage as a reason she decided to end her run.

“We wanted to win this race,” Gillibrand said in a video posted on her Twitter account. “But it’s important to know when it’s not your time, and to know how you can best serve your community and country.”

Gillibrand championed women and families in her bid, becoming the first candidate to call for a pro-abortion rights litmus test for federal judicial nominations. She held rallies in Georgia and Missouri, after Republican state lawmakers passed a string of rigid anti-abortion laws. She was also one of the earliest and most vocal critics of President Donald Trump on the campaign trail, formally launching her campaign, after a brief exploratory period, at the foot of one of the president’s hotels in Manhattan.

But Gillibrand struggled to stand out of the sprawling, diverse Democratic primary field, which included five other women. Like other candidates languishing at single or near zero digits in national polling, Gillibrand was not able to pull off a breakthrough moment. Instead, she received her first and only 2-percent poll earlier this month. She needed to get at least four such polls and accrue 130,000 donors to make the September debate stage.

Gillibrand’s fundraising also lagged behind her rivals, despite becoming one of the top online fundraisers in the Democratic Party at the beginning of Trump’s presidency in 2017.

One of the senator’s most memorable moments came on the debate stage last month, when she confronted former Vice President Joe Biden’s record on paid family leave, citing an editorial he wrote that said working women would “create the detoriation of the family.” But her attack failed to land, after she hinted at the line earlier that weekend. Biden, for his part, punched back at Gillibrand, recalling a time she commended him for his advocacy for equality.

“I don’t know what’s happened except that you’re now running for president,” Biden said.

Still, Gillibrand built a reputation as a creative campaigner who showed up at unconventional locales. She bartended at Iowa’s oldest gay bar, arm-wrestled college students and appeared at a drag show in Des Moines. She also appeared on Fox News — a controversial choice that some 2020 Democrats declined to follow. Her appearance elicited a memorable line from Fox host Chris Wallace, who called her “not very polite” when she pushed back on the network’s coverage.

Not surprisingly Gillibrand’s announcement came less than an hour after it became apparent that she was among those candidates who failed to qualify for the third debate in mid-September. Indeed, unlike arguably lesser candidates such as billionaire Tom Steyer and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Gillibrand ended up being not even close to qualifying for this debate and seemed unlikely to qualify for the fourth debate in October as well. Additionally, as noted, her fundraising has been disappointing, to say the least, and was only likely to get more difficult as she faded from the national stage. Given all of that, pulling the plug at this point was probably the best thing for her. She has a Senate seat in New York that will likely be safe for as long as she wants to keep the job, and could be a potential contender for a Cabinet position or, perhaps even a candidate as running mate for whoever the Democratic nominee turns out to be.

In dropping out Gillibrand jons a number of other candidates who have ended their campaigns over the past six weeks or so. This includes California Congressman Senator Eric Swalwell, former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, who has become something of a Democratic Harold Stassen, Washington Governor Jay Inslee, former Colorado Congressman John Hickenlooper, and Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton. It’s likely we’ll see other candidates drop out as well, perhaps over the next several days and most certainly over the next several weeks. The Democratic field, once the biggest in history, is slowly, but surely, winnowing down to the real contenders. It’s about time.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    Gillibrand screwed herself when she was first out of the gate baying for Al Franken’s blood. That was the first time most Democrats outside of New York were introduced to her. There was an ethics process in the Senate that would have parsed Franken’s alleged misdeeds, but that wasn’t good enough for Gillibrand. Verdict first, trial never.

    She was a leader, but it’s funny how when a leader leads people to do something they later regret, the followers will turn on that leader.

    You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. She was doomed before she started. It’s a pity, she’s a real political talent.

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  2. Guarneri says:

    “….she’s a real political talent.”

    Apparently not.

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  3. Kathy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    She was a leader, but it’s funny how when a leader leads people to do something they later regret, the followers will turn on that leader.

    A lesson Mussolini literally paid a high price to learn.

  4. Kylopod says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Gillibrand screwed herself when she was first out of the gate baying for Al Franken’s blood.

    I think an underrated factor was not the Franken episode itself, but her op-ed in which she argued that Bill Clinton should have resigned during the Lewinsky scandal. Since she wasn’t making a bid for the Bernie wing of the party, the last thing she could afford to do was alienate the Clintons and their allies, a faction she’d been close with in the past.

    I realize she didn’t see it that way. She was attempting to build a brand for herself as the candidate of women’s rights. She’s done some good work in the Senate on sexual assault in the military and similar topics. But she never found an effective way to navigate the competing party factions, and she ended up burning bridges with both the establishment that had nurtured her and the progressive left.

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  5. michael reynolds says:

    @Kylopod:
    That’s a very useful reminder. Yeah, Franken plus Clinton? The funny thing is she’s more right about Clinton than about Franken.

    The ‘women’s vote’ is a bit of a misnomer. There’s the black women’s vote, which is one thing, and the white women’s vote which is a different thing. I think there’s a tendency even on the part of pols who should know better to imagine that the women’s vote will be a reliable thing, the way the black vote is. But blacks are an oppressed minority which never has the numbers to enforce an agenda, while women are a majority who to the extent they remain second-class citizens do so despite having the power to enforce whatever agenda they choose.

    The civil rights paradigm – minority gains support of sufficient numbers of the majority – applied to gay rights, but doesn’t apply to Latinos or women. Apples and oranges. An oppressed 52% majority with complete access to the ballot box and impossible to gerrymander, is nothing at all like the experience of African-Americans.

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  6. Jay L Gischer says:

    @michael reynolds: Interesting that you should bring up Al Franken, because that’s exactly what I’ve been wondering about with regard to her. She looks strong on paper, but never went anywhere.

    Still, I don’t know that I’d trust my feelings, or, no offense intended, yours. Is there any polling on this?

  7. Kylopod says:

    @michael reynolds:

    An oppressed 52% majority with complete access to the ballot box and impossible to gerrymander, is nothing at all like the experience of African-Americans.

    We’ve discussed here before the flawed analogy between vote by gender and vote by race or ethnicity. When blacks, Latinos, and Asians vote Democrat, it’s not just based on some abstraction that the GOP is racist. They tend to live in the same communities, which reinforces group identity and makes them likelier to vote the same. There are no “women communities” the way there are African American communities. Even gay people tend to have more of a sense of forming a community, even if it isn’t a residential one. But when women go out to vote, they aren’t necessarily voting as women; they’re likelier to be voting as white or black or Asian, rich or poor or middle class, Christian or Jewish or Muslim. Those sorts of identities tend to override gender in the political-cultural hierarchy.

    Progressives often underestimate how many women there are out there who hold relatively “traditional” views of gender roles. If you look at polling on abortion, for example, while there’s definitely a gender gap, it’s not a huge one. Millions of women are fervently anti-abortion. I remember reading a study from the 1980s that concluded that the activist wing of the pro-life movement was comprised predominantly of Catholic housewives.

    A lot of pundits were baffled over exit polls showing that a majority of white women voted for Trump. But he got a smaller share of that bloc than Romney, McCain, or Bush. It shouldn’t be too surprising that an already Republican-leaning demographic would continue voting Republican, just as it shouldn’t be surprising that a sexist pig and self-confessed sexual assaulter like Trump would cause more defections from that group than usual.

    Still, the 2018 midterms indicated that one of the prime groups that has been turning against Trump is suburban white women. So gender can have a real effect on voting–we just shouldn’t expect there to be some kind of mass defections anytime soon.

  8. Pylon says:

    I think the Franken thing was less a factor than just being in the crowded field with not a lot to distinguish her. She needed a strong start to get out on front (like, for example, Harris) and didn’t do it.

  9. michael reynolds says:

    @Jay L Gischer: @Pylon:
    Read the comments on the WaPo announcement. WaPo subscribers – a Democratic-leaning group – just keep saying the same thing: Franken…Franken…Franken.

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  10. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: There’s a group of people, the Franken Stans, who are really mad at her. Largely because they are misogynistic douche nozzles who want to punish a woman for taking a stand against harassment.

    They’re scum.

    But they aren’t 99% of the party. Let’s estimate misogynistic douche nozzles at 40% of the party, just to pick a number. That still leaves a winnable 60%, and she was polling at… 1%.

    Gillibrand didn’t catch on. Period.

    It’s not that the misogynistic douche nozzles won, but that she was another Hickenlooper, Inslee or Stalwell. The misogynistic douche nozzles are doing an unearned victory lap.

    Unless maybe the misogynistic douche nozzles had a Hickenlooper problem?

    Speaking of misogynistic douche nozzles taking unearned victory laps, Trump had this to say:

    A sad day for the Democrats, Kirsten Gillibrand has dropped out of the Presidential Primary. I’m glad they never found out that she was the one I was really afraid of!

    That’s the company you keep, Micheal.

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  11. charon says:

    @Gustopher:

    Speaking of misogynistic douche nozzles taking unearned victory laps, Trump had this to say:

    A sad day for the Democrats, Kirsten Gillibrand has dropped out of the Presidential Primary. I’m glad they never found out that she was the one I was really afraid of!

    Pure bullsh!t, the guy always finds a way to troll.

  12. michael reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    Bullshit. She defined herself with that move, and once an unknown is defined it’s damned hard to change the perception. That’s Politics 101.

    And it is nonsense to claim this is misogyny. It’s women as well as men who were put off by her zeal, women who focus on the fact that Franken was a strong advocate for everything they care about. He was an ally. And even if he had not been an ally, he deserved a chance to defend himself.

    There was a process in place to look at charges against Franken, Gillibrand’s ambitious rush short-circuited that process. There was no pressing need to eject Franken before the facts could be brought out. I’ve been trying to tell you, unjust means do not yield just results and the perception of injustice is fatal to a movement that rests on a bedrock of belief in justice.

    It is characteristic of many progressives that any disagreement is immediately interpreted as heresy. I’m sick of it, a lot of us are sick of it. This is not the medieval church and you’re not the pope. Take the time to do the work. Take the time to get the facts. Throwing an ally under the bus before he’s even had a chance to sit before a committee and explain his acts is the kind of intolerant, bullying, totalitarian behavior that weakens us and undercuts the cause.

    Now you’re engaging in McCarthyite tactics trying to smear me as a misogynist by association. Why don’t you toddle off and do some reading on HUAC and Joe McCarthy before you try peddling that crap.

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  13. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    A sad day for the Democrats, Kirsten Gillibrand has dropped out of the Presidential Primary. I’m glad they never found out that she was the one I was really afraid of!

    He must have been watching the “chicken” scene from Schindler’s List.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WyLMvX2uPQ

  14. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: Bullshit yourself. Basically no one heard of Gillibrand or knew she was running. Even the dreaded SJWs never heard of her, which is why she was polling below 1%. No one defined her, not even her.

    She set out to change the world by running for President, and discovered she was a Hickenlooper.

    And, Bullshit yourself again when you (again) place all the blame on Gillibrand. Most of the Democratic Senators were calling for Franken to resign, including the Senate Minority Leader, as well as Warren, Booker, and Harris.

    I’ve been trying to tell you, unjust means do not yield just results and the perception of injustice is fatal to a movement that rests on a bedrock of belief in justice.

    And, again, the focus on Gillibrand is bullshit. When I see people furiously angry that Schumer couldn’t hold his caucus together and go through an ethics committee investigation, then I will start seeing this as something other than angry mostly men (both that it is largely males pushing this, and that they are mostly manchilds) angry that some woman wanted a man held accountable.

    Gillibrand has basically no power. If you want to hold someone accountable for what happened, at least fucking include Schumer. He’s the one who told Franken that he was going to strip him of committee assignments.

    Now you’re engaging in McCarthyite tactics trying to smear me as a misogynist by association. Why don’t you toddle off and do some reading on HUAC and Joe McCarthy before you try peddling that crap.

    No, I’m saying you are keeping shitty company for your own reasons, and assuming that the shitty company’s fervor means that they agree with you and that you’re right.

    As a horrible human being once said “there are good people on both sides.” There are also a whole bunch of obviously misogynistic douche nozzle manchilds on your side.

    (I mean that in the best of all possible ways)

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  15. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: This conversation is one of the kind where I just sigh and mumble “meh, this is just Reynolds being Reynolds.” Don’t personalize the insult; you only diminish yourself.

  16. Jim Brown 32 says:

    Good. Anyone that would lead the charge to shitcan a “friend’s” career to virtual signal a group isn’t fit to lead. Her interview with the NYT Daily Podcast regarding Franken was embarrassing. She built a lot of smoke but can’t stoke a fire.

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  17. michael reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:

    Basically no one heard of Gillibrand or knew she was running. Even the dreaded SJWs never heard of her, which is why she was polling below 1%. No one defined her, not even her.

    The donor class didn’t know who she was? Politically involved Democrats didn’t know who she was? The influential pols and media who might have promoted her didn’t know who she was? How is it I knew who she was? And how come every time she did a public event someone asked her about Franken?

    You don’t like reality. Neither do I sometimes. That’s irrelevant to analysis. She had few contributors and she had no endorsements and she got nothing much from liberal media. Maddow took her apart over her former conservative stands, and that didn’t help, either. The roll-out matters, and when every interview involves explaining why you leapt at the chance to destroy a good Democratic senator, that’s what you’d have to call a bad roll out.

    Let me explain something to you. When I analyze politics or anything else, I do everything I can within human limitations to exclude my own personal likes or dislikes. Data that’s been leaned on his of no value to me. Group consensus is nothing. The opinions of the bien pensants is nothing. The party line is irrelevant. Analysis is sacred to me. I just want to try and see what is there to be seen.

    I originally liked Klobuchar until the stories came out about her treatment of staff. I stopped giving her money and unsubscribed from her emails. I thought she’d make a good president, but the analysis was easy: we’d be dealing with Klob’s bitch eruptions every few weeks and that would kill her candidacy. My own affection for her was irrelevant, it was just analysis.

    You don’t seem able to make that separation. You can’t seem to understand that analysis is not attack. 1 + 1 = 2, there’s no my math or your math, there’s just math. Here’s the math: a new candidate needs friends in the party. Gillibrand had no friends because no one trusted her. Progs because she hadn’t been pure all the way back to the womb, liberals because of Franken and Clinton. No money and no party love = dead on arrival.

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  18. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: I think you’re entirely right that Franken should have gotten his hearing before the ethics committee. Schumer was in the wrong for not taking a strong stand against the Senators calling for Franken to resign.

    And I would go further and say that Franken should have made an impassioned speech to that effect rather than resigning.

    But… you are celebrating Gillibrand’s demise with people who actually don’t share your beliefs. The majority of the “Franken Was Wronged” crowd aren’t making a principled stand for some semblance of due process, they’re just happy that bitch failed.

    The lack of attacks on Schumer shows their motivations.

    And you are proudly pointing to them, and saying that they all support your principled belief. You are embracing horrible people.

    Gillibrand’s favorables were good. Double digits good. And her name recognition always low. She just didn’t resonate with a bit and important message that no one else did better. She was Harris The Lesser. And that’s before the baggage.

    Party donors is less of an issue than you expect. Buttigieg has shown that nearly anyone can be moderately successful. Andrew Fucking Yang has made the third debate, despite being a waste of floor space.

    She failed because she was a Hickenlooper.

    But further, I would argue that Franken’s fate was sealed when he could no longer represent his constituents effectively, and his replacement would be better. And, for politicians, I’m ok with that standard. Politicians are disposable.

    Franken got a raw deal. Not because of Gillibrand, but because of Schumer. Schumer should have gotten ahead of the backlash to the scandal, and kept his caucus in line, or at least reacted immediately with a statement that Senators should wait for the ethics committee.

    But, when I say that politicians are disposable, I include Gillibrand. If the greatest tragedy in her life is that she is unfairly unable to gain support to run for President, she’s doing pretty good.

    But that doesn’t mean that the people dancing upon her political grave aren’t mostly horrible, misogynistic douche nozzles.

    You are embracing them. You’re the guy at Charlottesville who just really likes country music and has missed the whole point of it.

    You’re the guy who would walk through a modern Krystalnacht while singing Nick Lowe’s “I Love The Sound Of Breaking Glass” and miss the point.

    Hopefully, you are arrogant/naive enough that you haven’t noticed or picked up anything from this crowd, and now that Gillibrand is gone and a pound of flesh has been delivered unto your noble belief (even if it is the wrong pound of flesh), and will go on with a normal life, taking pride in being in the right.

    But not everyone who appears to agree with you does. And not everyone who appears to disagree with you does. Some of us just don’t like the crowd you’re hanging with.

    At least you’re not a Bernie Bro.

    ——
    Apparently, there is no real filter for most comments, if douche nozzles gets through. Go figure. I promise to use it in only the most respectful ways.

  19. Gustopher says:

    @michael reynolds: Also, bra-ha-ha-ha-ha:

    Let me explain something to you. When I analyze politics or anything else, I do everything I can within human limitations to exclude my own personal likes or dislikes. Data that’s been leaned on his of no value to me. Group consensus is nothing. The opinions of the bien pensants is nothing. The party line is irrelevant. Analysis is sacred to me.

    People just don’t work that way.

    I had a boss once that was pushing me to use New Framework Y rather than Old Framework X for some big project. He created a spreadsheet of rationale, assigned values to each rationale, and declared whether X or Y best met that rationale. I added more to his spreadsheet.

    It was a preposterous exercise in bullshit, that showed both X and Y would do the job, but X allowed me to ask the guy one office over for help.

    He had intended it as an objective, perfect analysis, but I have been referring to it as the “Spreadsheet of Subjectivity” for a decade. People do what they want to do, and believe what they want to believe, and the best you can ever do is try to ask the questions that prevent you from making an irreversible mistake.

    Ironic Postscript: That boss is doing much better in his career than I am. “Do Y” is a much better statement than “Well, both X and Y would work, so do whichever strikes your fancy, but watch out for A, B and C.”

    More Ironic Postscript: I’ve gotten more projects finished than he has, including one that he failed at.

    Ironicest Postscript: The people who have worked with me are doing better than either that boss or me…

  20. Blue Galangal says:

    I saw on TPM that Tiger Beat on the Potomac has a story up that Gillibrand had not been able to get away from Franken.

    “Franken was definitely a problem in terms of fundraising,” a person familiar with the Gillibrand campaign told Politico. “He just kept coming up, over and over again.”

    I would have voted for her, had she won the nomination (hell – I’ll vote for Sanders if it comes to it), but it certainly seemed to me she wasted no time stabbing Franken in the back, and it’s interesting that that perception has stayed with her and that she cannot shake that opportunistic reputation. Add to that the fact that she is also perceived as throwing the Clintons under the bus, and she had to be pressured to ask the staffer who sexually harassed the young woman on her campaign to resign, and I think it’s unsurprising that the perception of her is that she doesn’t walk the walk.

  21. al Ameda says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Gillibrand screwed herself when she was first out of the gate baying for Al Franken’s blood. That was the first time most Democrats outside of New York were introduced to her. There was an ethics process in the Senate that would have parsed Franken’s alleged misdeeds, but that wasn’t good enough for Gillibrand. Verdict first, trial never.

    I believe that her candidacy, with close to zero probability to begin with, was DOA and locked into One Percent territory precisely because of Franken.

    Also, and this is anecdotal, my wife is very liberal and Kirsten Gillibrand was dead to her from the beginning because of her role in the take down of Al Franken. Maybe Gillibrand was going nowhere anyway but I have feeling that her negatives among Democratic women are higher than people would expect.