Harris Pulls the Plug on Presidential Campaign

Plus, Oakland won't take no for an answer on Measure AA.

Back in January, an estimated 20,000 people braved a brisk January day in downtown Oakland to witness the start of Sen. Kamala Harris’s historic bid for the presidency. Eleven months later, with her campaign in shambles, Harris announced Tuesday that she was withdrawing from the Democratic Party primary.

“Eleven months ago at the launch of our campaign in Oakland I told you all: ‘I am not perfect.’ But I will always speak with decency and moral clarity and treat all people with dignity and respect. I will lead with integrity. I will speak the truth. And that’s what I have tried to do every day of this campaign. So here’s the truth today,” Harris wrote to supporters Tuesday morning. “I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life. My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue.”

The development is an astonishing fall from grace for Harris, who was once heralded as a top-tier candidate in the race for the Democratic nomination. Her campaign’s rollout in Oakland was recognized as perhaps the best opening for any campaign in the extraordinarily large Democratic field. 

Months later, during the party’s first presidential debate, she dominated the night by baiting the then-clear frontrunner Joe Biden into a confrontation over his past support for school busing. Harris, who raised in Berkeley and Oakland, ambushed Biden, saying, “There was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools and she was bused to school every day,” Harris said. “And that little girl was me.” 

But Harris may have peaked too early. The exchange with Biden would be the high point of her campaign. What followed was a series of miscalculations and campaign mismanagement.

In addition, to money woes, Harris’ campaign had been taking on water in recent months. One earlier red flag was polling in Harris’s home state of California that showed her support had dropped into single-digits. In some instances, she was polling below tech entrepreneur Andrew Wang. It got worse for Harris after more recent surveys found her campaign was even failing to attract support in the Bay Area.

In the meantime, Harris’s campaign began reshuffling staff and resources, a sure sign of a presidential campaign in upheaval. Harris declared she was essentially “moving to Iowa” to focus on winning the Iowa Caucus.

Harris made the decision to pull the plug on her campaign over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to Politico. But a scathing profile of her campaign last weekend in The New York Times likely solidified her decision to exit the race without ever appearing on a primary ballot.

In the article, the campaign was portrayed as aimless and lacking direction from the very top, led by its campaign manager and Harris’s own sister. Harris herself appeared unable to form a distinct message for her campaign. She waffled on high-profile issues such as Medicare for All, and never quite figured out how to portray her work as a prosecutor and attorney general in a field that was quickly shifting toward the left. Staff were treated badly, the report continued. In the fallout, a campaign aide jumped ship last weekend and took a job with Michael Bloomberg’s nascent presidential campaign.

With her exit from the race, she is the second candidate with Alameda County roots to drop out of the presidential race earlier than planned. Last July, East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell was the first candidate to end his campaign for president.

In Other News … 

Oakland is appealing a ruling last month in Alameda County Superior Court that invalidated Measure AA, the 2018 parcel tax to fund early education, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The measure was purported to need a two-thirds majority to pass, which it did not get, but the city subsequently embraced a legal interpretation that a mere majority was sufficient. … Nine Oakland parents filed a lawsuit against the Oakland Unified School District alleging its police officers used excessive force during a wild Oct. 23 school board meeting in which protesters attempted to jump a barrier between them and the school board members, EdSource reported. …

A former Oakland police officer and inspector for the Alameda County District Attorney’s office testified that he and another employee accepted bribes from an informant, the East Bay Times reported. … The nine counties that make up the Bay Area are experiencing an overdose epidemic attributed to methamphetamine use, the Chronicle reported. Deaths from fentanyl also are on the rise. … The arrest of an African-American man eating a sandwich at the Pleasant Hill BART station may not have been an isolated incident. The San Francisco Examiner reported that out of 55 riders cited for eating and drinking at BART stations since 2014, 80 percent were African-American. … Brandon Rivera, better known as the Contra Costa County rapper, “B-Dawg” was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for his involvement in the theft of more than 100 firearms and other items from a warehouse in Concord, Mashrival reported. … An Oakland Arena reunion concert featuring MC Hammer, Tony! Toni! Tone!, Digital Underground, En Vogue, and Luniz was cancelled when coliseum officials pulled the plug on the celebration of Oakland music because the concert’s promoters failed to meet unnamed obligations, the Chron reported. …

A federal bankruptcy judge ruled against PG&E’s bid to overturn a state law that puts the utility on the hook for liabilities stemming from the wildfires its equipment started in California, the Associated Press reported. … PG&E told a U.S. District Court judge last Friday that while its widespread power shut-offs have deterred any wildfires from starting, it found 218 instances where damages to its transmission equipment could have ignited fires, the Chron reported. … Oakland International Airport is losing two non-stop summer routes to Denmark and Sweden, SFGate reported. Direct flights on Norwegian Air to Copenhagen and Stockholm will cease next summer. Oakland recently lost non-stop flights to London and Barcelona. …

With Thanksgiving behind us, it’s time to buy a Christmas tree. But you might find the price of Douglas Firs and other species has continued to rise. The AP explained that the issue is dwindling supply in Oregon. More than 400 fewer suppliers exist in Oregon than 15 years ago. … Last week’s hard rain was too much for the new $1.4 billion Chase Center in San Francisco. “Light flooding” occurred at the arena in a few rooms because of a broken pipe, the Chron reported. That noise was the sound of thousands of Oaklanders snickering.

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