Yes, you read it correctly. Bill Richardson, the Governor of New Mexico, and candidate for the Democratic nomination, has ended his race for the ticket spot. After receiving 2% in Iowa and 5% in New Hampshire, I guess he realised what everyone else knew – that he had no chance of winning. While being the most qualified and ‘best dressed’ of the Democrats running, for some reason he never managed to burst into the polls and attract the attention of the voters (the opposite of what Mike Huckabee has managed to do).
Facing facts, he never had enough money or enough ‘fingers in pies’ (like Clinton) or that certain impressive and charismatic personality (like Obama).
Being Hispanic (and the only Hispanic running in either race), it’s somewhat surprising that he dropped out before states voted which have a high Hispanic population. The first one that springs to mind is Nevada – only 9 days away. Maybe back-room deals?
Anyway, it will be extremely interesting to wee who his supporters (and his 19 delegates – all superdelegates) flock around. I said in a previous post that I expect them to go Obama’s way. I also expect Richardson to go Obama’s way. Not only in endorsement, but in terms of running mate position too. Yes, some of us (the Pope and myself) have speculated that of all the candidates from this primary season, Obama would most likely pick Richardson. I think this is true – but it doesn’t mean I think he is the best choice. Al Gore is the best choice for Obama, though that certainly isn’t the most likely selection to happen.
It would benefit Obama is he could sweep up the 19 delegates, and all the supporters of Richardson, himself. If the spread evenly between Obama/Clinton/Edwards, then Clinton doesn’t get hurt and Edwards benefits at the expense of Obama. So Obama loses. I will be watching what happens closely.
Anyway, I’d like to say a final word about Richardson’s candidacy. It’s important, for the early stages of the primary race (before voting begins) that the ‘fringe’ candidates are there. They keep the ‘real’ candidates honest, in question, and sweating. Also, the ‘fringe’ candidates are free to say what they want. They can make the outlandish claims and the crazy remarks without fear of losing – because they will no matter what. It’s important to have the ‘fringe’ because without them, the ‘real’ candidates get a free pass.
However, they should all drop out before voting begins. They take away votes from people when they were never going to finish in a competitive position anyway. That 5% vote in New Hampshire could have boosted Obama into a tie, or better, a 1% lead had they all gone Obama’s way. The ‘fringe’, while helpful before the voting starts, only hinder the ‘real’ candidates’ chances after the process really begins.