North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum announced Monday that he's dropping out of the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination after failing to qualify for the most recent debates.
"The RNC’s clubhouse debate requirements are nationalizing the primary process and taking the power of democracy away from the engaged, thoughtful citizens of Iowa and New Hampshire," Burgum said in a statement bashing the rules that kept him out of recent debates.
"The RNC’s mission is to win elections," he continued. "It is not their mission to reduce competition and restrict fresh ideas by ‘narrowing the field’ months before the Iowa caucuses or the first in the nation New Hampshire primary. These arbitrary criteria ensure advantages for candidates from major media markets on the coasts versus America’s Heartland."
Burgum argued that none of the debate criteria are qualifications for serving as president. He said, "This effort to nationalize the primary system is unhealthy for the future of the party, especially for a party that proclaims to value leadership from outside of Washington."
His announcement comes just a few weeks after he said at a stop in Des Moines, Iowa, that he would not suspend his campaign before New Hampshire's GOP primary on Jan. 23.
"We’re going through all the effort to get our name on all 50 state ballots," he said at the time. "Iowa, New Hampshire, absolutely positively. We’re going to be here. We’re going to be campaigning in Iowa; we’re going to be campaigning in New Hampshire."
He reiterated this sentiment later in the month, telling NBC News that staying till New Hampshire was "our plan all along."
Burgum, 67, who has served as governor of North Dakota since 2016, consistently trailed many of the other candidates in the polls for the GOP nomination. Former President Donald Trump is still leading the pack.
To qualify for the last Republican debate in Miami, which Burgum failed to do, candidates had to meet Republican National Committee criteria, including accruing at least 70,000 unique donors and meeting a minimum polling requirement (at least 4% in two national polls or one national and one early-state poll that meet RNC requirements). Candidates were also required to sign pledges, including one in which he or she had to commit to supporting the Republican Party’s eventual nominee.
Burgum had also not qualified for the next debate, set for Wednesday.
A source close to the matter said senior staff members on the campaign found out this weekend that Burgum would be dropping out and the rest of the team found out Monday morning. The source said that Burgum, whose campaign is mostly self-funded, is paying the team through December.
His most recent filings showed that the campaign had raised $12.2 million from Burgum himself out of a total of $15.2 million.
Burgum is eligible to run for a third term as governor. He has until next summer to declare his intention to run for re-election.
There are six remaining candidates: Trump, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.