By Cristina Goerdt
Former South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar ended their presidential campaigns on Sunday and Monday evening and endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden.
Billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg, as well as Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, also suspended their presidential campaigns. Steyer dropped out on Saturday, while Bloomberg and Warren ended their campaigns after Super Tuesday. Bloomberg quit the race on Wednesday and endorsed Biden, while Warren dropped out on Thursday.
Buttigieg ended his bid to become the country’s first openly gay president on Sunday night, after a dismal performance in the South Carolina primary. Fashioning himself as a younger moderate alternative to Biden, Buttigieg came in as fourth in the polls of the battleground state, trailing behind Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, and billionaire Tom Steyer with only 8.2% of the vote.
Despite winning the Iowa caucuses and coming in a narrow second in New Hampshire, Buttigieg struggled to earn the trust of the African-American and Latinx communities. Buttigieg finished third in Nevada, where at least 27% of the state’s population identifies as LatinxIn South Carolina, African-Americans make up 56% of the voting population, but only 3% of American-Americans voted for Buttigieg.
During his campaign, Buttigieg came under fire for his relations with South Bend’s police department and the African-American community. In June of 2019, a white police officer in South Bend fatally shot a black resident, causing a massive uproar and breaking open a dam of discontent about Buttigieg’s attitude toward the police department. Buttigieg also demoted the city’s first black police chief after the F.B.I. began investigating the police department for wire-tapping police officer’s phone calls, damaging relations between Buttigieg and minorities.
A senator known for her work on bipartisan issues, Klobuchar also grappled with obtaining support among minorities. Frequently considered as a “middle of the pack” candidate until surprise surges in voting numbers from Iowa and New Hampshire, Klobuchar presented herself as a unifying, moderate force, who could defeat Donald Trump and become the country’s first female president to boot.
Similar to Buttigieg, Klobuchar’s record as a prosecutor for Hennepin County, Minnesota’s most populous county, was criticized. Just days before the Iowa caucuses, a coalition of African-American rights organizations in Minneapolis called on Klobuchar to suspend her campaign due to her involvement in the case of Tyesha Edwards, an 11-year-old girl who was killed by a stray bullet in Minneapolis.
Corresponding to her lack of minority support, Klobuchar finished sixth in the South Carolina primary.
Klobuchar ended her campaign in a last-minute announcement at a Biden rally on Monday, just hours before Super Tuesday voting began. Her announcement followed Buttigieg’s, who made the decision on Sunday to suspend his campaign.
Buttigieg also formally endorsed Biden at a rally in Dallas, Texas on Monday night. Former Congressman and presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke joined Klobuchar and Buttigieg, endorsing Biden in his home state on Monday night.
Following Biden’s landslide win in South Carolina on Saturday, the flurry of moderate Democratic endorsements could give Biden the boost he needs to keep his “Joe-mentum” going and bolster support among swing voters on the eve of Super Tuesday.
The loss of Buttigieg and Klobuchar also underscores the glaring ideological split in the Democratic Party, shifting the race to become a battle between self-proclaimed socialist Sanders and moderate Biden.
President Trump has already made claims that the Democratic National Convention is conspiring with Mike Bloomberg, a late entry to the race, to rig the nomination process against Sanders in favor of the establishment favorite Biden.
Klobuchar denied that her endorsement of Biden is an effort to block Sanders, but rather, a measure to defeat Trump in November.
“Joe Biden doesn’t excite me,” said freshman Molly DiMaria.
DiMaria says that she supported Buttigieg because he represented the “in between” the two wings of the party.
However, she said that she will shift her support to Biden after Buttigieg’s endorsment. “I lean more more moderate, so he’s just what makes the most sense for me at this point.”
DiMaria is not alone in shifting her support to Biden in the wake of Buttigieg and Klobuchar’s sudden exit.
According to the Associated Press, Biden holds 596 delegates, a narrow lead over Sanders’ 531.
Biden won 10 states on Super Tuesday, including Texas, although Sanders took the delegate-heavy state of California.