U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet ended his presidential campaign Tuesday night after early primary election results from New Hampshire showed him earning less than 1% of the vote.
Bennet and his campaign team spent a lot of time in New Hampshire over the past few months, holding more than 50 town halls and attending events like a reproductive rights rally on Monday.
“Celebrity politics creates real challenges, but we’ve tried to overcome that by campaigning all across New Hampshire in the old-fashioned way,” Bennet said early Tuesday in Manchester.
The Colorado Democrat said he was hopeful he could place third or fourth in a state like New Hampshire given his success in a swing state like Colorado. But early results as of 9 p.m. had Bernie Sanders in the lead with 26%, Pete Buttigieg in second with 24% and Amy Klobuchar in third with 20% of the vote.
His agenda included moderate policies compared with other Democratic candidates in areas like health care. He favored an alternative approach that allows people to keep their private insurance while making a government plan available to anyone who preferred it.
“We built the campaign so we would make it until New Hampshire made up their mind,” Bennet said. “It’s been a great privilege for me and my family to spend the time that we have in New Hampshire.”
I love our country. I love the idea of democracy. And I want to pass it on to the next generation.— Michael Bennet (@MichaelBennet) February 12, 2020
I feel nothing but joy tonight as we conclude this campaign and this chapter.
Tonight wasnt our night. But New Hampshire, you may see me once again.
Bennet previously served as superintendent of Denver Public Schools, and proposed strong education policy in his Real Deal campaign agenda, ideas that remaining Democratic candidates may adopt moving forward.
John Hudak, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, has said even if Bennet’s campaign is not successful, it has raised his profile, and a higher appointment, like secretary of Education, is a possibility for the senator.
“One way or another, whether this goes forward or it doesn’t go forward, I’m going to keep fighting for our democracy,” Bennet said Tuesday before results began trickling in. He also emphasized that any of the Democratic candidates running will be better than President Donald Trump.
Bennet announced his candidacy May 2, joining a crowded field of 2020 Democratic candidates. He shared a national debate stage with former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper before missing the cut for further debates by failing to recruit enough donors or scoring above 2% in the polls. Bennet then turned his attention to the state of New Hampshire, where he held town halls across the state.
Colorado’s first Super Tuesday primary vote is March 3, and politicians like Colorado Gov. Jared Polis expect a higher turnout than the caucuses. The remaining Democratic candidates are more likely to be engaged with Colorado voters because of the Super Tuesday primary election. An endorsement from Bennet will be “highly sought after,” Hudak has said.
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg opened two campaign offices in Colorado, one in Aurora and one in Colorado Springs. Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg is planning a town hall in Aurora later this month, and former Vice President Joe Biden is set to visit Denver on Feb. 17.
In the meantime, Bennet said early Tuesday that he will “keep fighting until my last breath” for the next generation of Americans.
Bennet and other U.S. senators introduced new legislation Tuesday morning that would put the United States on track to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and he is working on other legislation that would conserve land in Colorado for recreation and protect ecosystems.
In a speech late Tuesday, Bennet said, “I think it’s fitting for us to end the campaign tonight.”
But he ended by saying, “New Hampshire, you may see me once again.”
American University student Sarah Duval contributed to this report.Emily Hayes is a graduate student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald.