Montana Gov. Steve Bullock drops out of race for president

Steve Bullock has served as Montana governor since 2013.

Cowboy boot-wearing Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has dropped out of the 2020 presidential race.

Struggling to gain traction at the national level, the red-state Democrat failed to reach 2% in any of the Democratic National Committee qualifying polls, graced the Democratic presidential debate stage only once and raised just $4.36 million during his 202-day campaign.

"Today, I am suspending my campaign to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for President," Bullock said in a statement. "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."

The governor entered the 2020 presidential race with a proven bipartisan record and was quick to pick up a sought-after endorsement from Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, the longest-serving statewide-elected Democrat.

Bullock’s pitch to America was that he was the only candidate who could beat President Donald Trump because he won statewide reelection the same year that Trump won Montana by 20 percentage points in the 2016 presidential race.

In July, on the Democratic presidential debate stage, Bullock warned the other candidates, "I come from a state where a lot of people voted for Donald Trump. Let's not kid ourselves. He will be hard to beat."

At the center of the Bullock campaign was getting rid of "dark money" in politics -- donations where the names of donors are not disclosed -- and overturning the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, which allowed unlimited spending in elections by corporations and unions.

"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 wrote in announcing his suspension. "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."

As Montana’s attorney general, Bullock gained national attention by bringing Citizens United back to the Supreme Court. He challenged the 2010 decision on the grounds that it infringed on his state’s longtime ban on corporate money in politics, but the court rejected his argument, writing, "There can be no serious doubt that Citizens United applies to Montana law."

Bullock’s campaign did bring a sense of humor to the race. His team launched a website to help everyone figure out if Greenland was for sale in the wake of reports Trump wanted to purchase it; got former Trump communications director Anthony Scaramucci to send Bullock a personalized video through Cameo saying, “We support you Steve B. ... I’m behind you 100%. See you at the finish line!"; and most recently, released a video of Bullock telling Thanksgiving-themed dad jokes.

Bullock's term as governor of Montana ends in 2020. He has previously said that he will "absolutely not" run for the U.S. Senate because he likes to bring people together and wants to have dinner with his kids.

"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," Galia Slayen, the Bullock campaign's communications director, said in a statement.