Montana Gov. Steve Bullock ends presidential campaign

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Dec. 2 (UPI) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock ended his presidential campaign Monday, departing the Democratic race after struggling to register the required support to participate in recent party debates.

Bullock, who announced his campaign in May, qualified for just one of the five primary debates in July but failed to meet the party’s tightened requirements that followed.

He acknowledged Monday it’s been difficult to break through in a “still-crowded” Democratic field.

“Today, I am suspending my campaign to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for president,” Bullock said in a statement posted to his Medium account. “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.

“Thank you for your belief, your trust, and your support.”

Bullock struggled to gain traction from the beginning in a field that included a number of better-known candidates and better-funded campaigns. He ran partly on the position that he successfully won the governorship in a state that voted for President Donald Trump in 2016.

“I entered this race as a voice to win back the places we lost, bridge divides and rid our system of the corrupting influence of Dark Money,” he added in his announcement Monday. “While the concerns that propelled me to enter in the first place have not changed, I leave this 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.

“To the voters who shared their personal stories, their ideas, their encouragement, and their dreams — you make me hopeful for what our country can still achieve.”

Bullock has faced some pressure to run for the U.S. Senate to increase Democrats’ chances of retaking the chamber.

“Governor Bullock will continue to faithfully and effectively serve the people of Montana as their Governor,” said spokeswoman Galia Slayen. “While he plans to work hard to elect Democrats in the state and across the country in 2020, it will be in his capacity as a Governor and a senior voice in the Democratic Party — not as a candidate for U.S. Senate.”