Sen. Cory Booker LAW ’97, D-N.J., dropped out of the 2020 presidential race on Monday morning after his campaign failed to gain widespread support.

Booker broke the news just before noon on Monday via tweet. In both a Medium post and an email to supporters, Booker cited a lack of financial resources as the primary reason for his decision. Despite several standout moments in previous debates, the former mayor’s campaign struggled to gain much-needed momentum. He consistently polled in low single digits and failed to qualify for both the December Democratic debate and Tuesday evening’s debate.

“We may have not reached our ultimate goal, but over the last year I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many incredible, inspiring, engaged people all over this country, and I am more confident now than ever that together we will rise,” Booker wrote in his Medium post.

According to his campaign website, Booker ran on a platform dedicated to justice, opportunity and American leadership. As president, Booker pledged he would protect democracy as well as advance voting rights, criminal justice, reproductive rights and climate change reform — among other initiatives.

RealClearPolitics projected that Booker’s national polling average was 1.5 percent. This figure put him below the necessary criteria for qualifying for the Jan. 14 debate. Candidates looking to face off at the CNN and Des Moines Register debate needed to receive over 5 percent support in at least four separate national polls or early primary state polls, or alternatively receive over 7 percent support in two early state polls. Further, candidates needed to garner donations from at least 225,000 distinct donors, securing at least 1,000 donors from 20 states. Booker also failed to meet these thresholds.

Businessman Andrew Yang was the only candidate of color to qualify for December’s Democratic debate. Following the withdrawal of Booker and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Yang is also currently the only candidate of color left in the race. Both campaign suspensions came on the heels of the decision of Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., to drop out of the race in December. Their departures have sparked renewed debate over campaign finance reform.

While Garrett Frye-Mason ’23, who identifies as a Democrat, said Booker was not his preferred candidate, he praised the senator for his progressive policies on gun violence, racism and poverty. Beyond valuing Booker’s presence in the presidential race, Frye-Mason described Booker as a “wonderful, kind and compassionate person in his campaign and career.”

“His candidacy also reveals important issues within the Democratic Party… [as] the field that was once hailed as the most diverse in history is now overwhelmingly white,” wrote Frye-Mason in an email to the News. “I believe Democrats must consider the biases and double standards that paved the way to this progressively less diverse field and start to address them.”

Previous News coverage of Booker’s time at the Yale Law School reported that as a student, Booker was a vocal supporter of Israel and an “outspoken advocate of diversity.” He commuted weekly from New Haven back to Newark, New Jersey. He later served as a city councilperson and the mayor of Newark. The Law School’s Office of Public Affairs declined to comment.

At Yale, Booker helped found the Yale-based global Jewish leadership society Shabtai, although the senator himself is not Jewish.

“Cory ran on a platform of love and dialogue,” said Rabbi Shmully Hecht, who co-founded Shabtai with Booker. “[My] hope is that our leaders assume his vision and begin the healing process.”

Before attending Yale, Booker earned a B.A. from Stanford and studied at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship.

 

Julia Bialek | julia.bialek@yale.edu

Olivia Tucker | olivia.tucker@yale.edu