Montana Gov. Steve Bullock drops out of Democratic presidential race

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced Monday that he’s ending his Democratic presidential campaign, saying it’s become clear that he won’t have a shot at being his party’s nominee.

The two-term governor and former state attorney general tried to make the case that he was the best bet to beat President Donald Trump because he was the only Democratic candidate to win in a state that Trump won in 2016. But he got a late start, announcing his candidacy in May and joining nearly two dozen other Democratic candidates competing for attention and campaign donations.

“While there were many obstacles we could not have anticipated when entering this race, it has become clear that in this moment, I won’t be able to break through to the top tier of this still-crowded field of candidates,” Bullock said in a statement.

Democratic presidential candidate Montana governor Steve Bullock speaks to guests at the United Food and Commercial Workers' (UFCW) 2020 presidential candidate forum on Oct. 13, 2019 in Altoona, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The governor said that he ran to win back places Democrats have lost and end the influence of “dark money” in politics. Those concerns have not changed, he said, but he leaves the race “filled with gratitude and optimism, inspired and energized by the good people I’ve had the privilege of meeting over the course of the campaign.”

The 53-year-old struggled to raise money and register in the polls, managing to meet qualification thresholds for only one Democratic National Committee debate in July.

He’s the third Western governor or former governor to drop out of the 2020 race after struggling to build a national profile and donor base against well-known alternatives like former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper dropped out in August to instead run for the Senate. His departure was followed quickly by that of Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who is seeking reelection.

Democrats had been pushing Bullock to give up his presidential bid and run instead for Senate, where first-term Republican Steve Daines is running for reelection. But Bullock has consistently and repeatedly said he has no interest in the Senate seat and that there are already strong candidates running against Daines.

Bullock’s spokeswoman Galia Slayen reiterated that Monday.