Washington Week

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16 Presidential Candidates Who Dropped Out Before the Primaries Began

Last week, presidential candidates Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee withdrew from the Democratic primary race -- becoming the third and fourth candidates, respectively, to withdraw from the 2016 Election before a single primary vote has been cast.  Republican candidates Rick Perry and Scott Walker, who were fighting for the GOP nomination in a crowded field, ended their campaigns last month.

These four candidates are hardly the first presidential hopefuls to drop out before the voting even started.  Here are 16 other candidates who have dropped out before the primaries began.

NOTE: Candidates like Gary Johnson in 2008 and Pat Buchanan in 2000 who withdrew from the Republican Party primary but continued their campaigns as third-party candidates are not included. Other candidates like Evan Bayh in 2008 and John Kasich in 2000 who formed exploratory committees but never actually declared their candidacies are also not included.

1) Herman Cain, business executive and Tea Party activist
2012 Republican Primary
Exploratory Committee Formed: January 12, 2011
Official Campaign Declaration: May 21, 2011
Withdrew from Race: December 3, 2011
Official Days in the Race: 196 days

2) Thaddeus McCotter, former U.S. Representative from Michigan
2012 Republican Primary
Official Campaign Declaration: July 2, 2011
Withdrew from Race: September 22, 2011
Official Days in the Race: 82 days

3) Tim Pawlenty, former Governor of Minnesota
2012 Republican Primary
Exploratory Committee Formed: March 21, 2011
Official Campaign Declaration: May 23, 2011
Withdrew from Race: August 14, 2011
Official Days in the Race: 83 days

4) Tom Vilsack, former Governor of Iowa
2008 Democratic Primary
Official Campaign Declaration: November 30, 2006
Withdrew from Race: February 23, 2007
Official Days in the Race: 85 days

5) Tom Tancredo, former U.S. Representative from Colorado
2008 Republican Primary
Exploratory Committee Formed: January 16, 2007
Official Campaign Declaration: April 2, 2007
Withdrew from Race: December 20, 2007
Official Days in the Race: 262 days

6) Sam Brownback, Governor of Kansas, former U.S. Representative
2008 Republican Primary
Exploratory Committee Formed: December 4, 2006
Official Campaign Declaration: January 20, 2007
Withdrew from Race: October 19, 2007
Official Days in the Race: 272 days

7) Tommy Thompson, former Governor of Wisconsin and HHS Secretary
2008 Republican Primary
Exploratory Committee Formed: December 15, 2006
Official Campaign Declaration: April 1, 2007
Withdrew from Race: Aug 12, 2007
Official Days in the Race: 133 days

8) Jim Gilmore, former Governor of Virginia
2008 Republican Primary
Exploratory Committee Formed: December 19, 2006
Official Campaign Declaration: April 26, 2007
Withdrew from Race: July 14, 2007
Official Days in the Race: 79 days

9) Carol Moseley Braun, former U.S. Senator from Illinois
2004 Democratic Primary
Official Campaign Declaration: September 22, 2003
Withdrew from Race: January 15, 2004
Official Days in the Race: 115 days

10) Elizabeth Dole, former U.S. Representative from North Carolina, wife of 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole
2000 Republican Primary
Exploratory Committee Formed: March 10, 1999
Official Campaign Declaration: June 30, 1999
Withdrew from Race: Oct 20, 1999
Official Days in the Race: 112 days

11) Bob Graham, former U.S. Representative and former Governor of Florida
2004 Democratic Primary
Paperwork Filed: February 27, 2003
Campaign Kickoff Speech: May 6, 2003
Withdrew from Race: October 6, 2003
Official Days in the Race: 221 days

12) Dan Quayle, former vice president and former U.S. Representative and Senator from Indiana
2000 Republican Primary
Exploratory Committee Formed: January 21, 1999
Official Campaign Declaration: April 14, 1999
Withdrew from Race: September 27, 1999
Official Days in the Race: 166 days

13) Lamar Alexander, U.S. Senator and former Governor of Tennessee
2000 Republican Primary
Exploratory Committee Formed: January 8, 1999
Official Campaign Declaration: March 9, 1999
Withdrew from Race: August 16, 1999
Official Days in the Race: 160 days

14) Douglas Wilder, former Governor of Virginia
1992 Democratic Primary
Exploratory Committee Formed: March 27, 1991
Official Campaign Declaration: September 13, 1991
Withdrew from Race: January 8, 1992
Official Days in the Race: 117 days

15) Joe Biden, Vice President and former Senator from Delaware
1988 Democratic Primary
Official Campaign Declaration: June 9, 1987
Withdrew from Race: September 23, 1987
Official Days in the Race: 106 days

16) Gary Hart, former U.S. Senator from Colorado
1988 Democratic Primary
Official Campaign Declaration: April 13, 1987
Withdrew from Race: May 8, 1987
Official Days in the Race: 25 days


For comparison, the 2016 campaign dropouts: 

Lincoln Chafee, former Governor and U.S. Senator from Rhode Island
2016 Democratic Primary
Exploratory Committee Formed: April 9, 2015
Official Campaign Declaration: June 3, 2015
Withdrew from Race: October 23, 2015
Official Days in the Race: 142 days

Jim Webb, former U.S. Senator from Virginia
2016 Democratic Primary
Exploratory Committee Formed: November 20, 2014
Official Campaign Declaration: July 2, 2015
Withdrew from Race: October 20, 2015
Official Days in the Race: 110 days

Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin
2016 Republican Primary
Exploratory Committee Formed: June 18, 2015
Official Campaign Declaration: July 13, 2015
Withdrew from Race: September 21, 2015
Official Days in the Race: 70 days

Rick Perry, former Governor of Texas
2016 Republican Primary
Official Campaign Declaration: June 4, 2015
Withdrew from Race: September 11, 2015
Official Days in the Race: 99 days