Joe Sestak (on left) and Steve Bullock
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania and Montana Governor Steve Bullock ended their bids for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president. The Democratic presidential field drops to 16 candidates.

Sestak, 67, a retired U.S. Navy vice admiral and two-term congressman did not qualify for any of the Democratic presidential debates and did not show any support in national or early state polling.

He made his announcement on Twitter on Sunday afternoon:

Sestak called for a leader who could unite the country.

“A moral compass for our great ship of state is the beacon most needed today. That is necessary for us both at home and abroad, to convene the world to advance our policies and commitment to democratic values for our collective good,” he said.

Bullock, 53, serving his second term as Governor and is term-limited announced that he would drop out of the race on Monday.

Considered a moderate, he attempted to convince voters than a Democrat who could win in a red state would be the best candidate to defeat President Donald Trump. Trump won Monday in 2016 by 20 points while Bullock won re-election by 3.8 points.

“Today, I am suspending my campaign to become the Democratic Party’s nominee for President. 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 released statement.

He qualified to participate in only one debate after joining the presidential race in May, later than most of the field.

“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. 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,” Bullock said in a message to supporters.

Bullock will not challenge U.S. Senator Steve Daines, R-Mont., in 2020 according to his spokeswoman. He had dismissed the idea in previous interviews.

“Governor Bullock will continue to faithfully and effectively serve the people of Montana as their Governor. 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 US Senate,” Galia Slayen, Bullock spokeswoman, said.

Bullock is the third western governor to drop out of the Democratic presidential race. Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced he would run for re-election. Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper left the race to run for U.S. Senate.

The Democratic presidential field has not retracted much since the race began. Former Massachusetts Governor Duval Patrick and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg entered the race in November.

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