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WASHINGTON — Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is continuing her trend of placing last in Democratic primary elections.
Six states went to the polls Tuesday, including Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota and Washington.
In each case, Gabbard received the fewest votes — by far — of the three candidates remaining, not surprising in an election that has come down to a two-way race between former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
She performed so poorly she even finished behind candidates who have already dropped out of the race.
Gabbard did not rise above 1% in any of the six states. Meanwhile, Biden and Sanders continued their fight to be the one to rack up enough delegates to take on President Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
Gabbard’s refusal to drop out has many mystified about what she’s hoping to accomplish. The congresswoman has no foreseeable pathway to the nomination, yet her campaign continues to plead with her supporters to keep sending her money.
But her spending is also raising eyebrows. Federal Election Commission records show Gabbard has sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to people affiliated with the Science of Identity Foundation, a fringe sect of Hare Krishna that Gabbard grew up in and that former members describe as a cult.
She’s performed poorly in nearly every contest and poll that’s been conducted since entering the race. Gabbard so far has only earned two delegates after coming in second on Super Tuesday in American Samoa — her birthplace — to former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
Her total is 0.1% of the delegate share that’s been awarded so far, mostly to Biden and Sanders. It’s also less than the share claimed by other candidates, such as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, all of whom already bowed out of the race.
“At this point I can’t even speculate as to why she would still be running for president,” said Colin Moore, director of the Public Policy Center at the University of Hawaii. “I have no clue. I’m dumbfounded.”
Equally as perplexing, Moore said, are her calls to be on the next Democratic debate stage in Arizona on Sunday. The Democratic National Committee recently announced that in order to qualify a candidate needs to capture at least 20% of the total number of delegates that have been awarded so far, which would leave Gabbard and her 0.1% delegate share well below the threshold.
Gabbard blasted the decision, implying it was part of a conspiracy to keep her off the debate stage. She even called on Biden and Sanders to stand with her in her protests.
The campaign continued the criticism Monday in an email to supporters that included photos of Gabbard with UFC fighter Zhang Weili after she successfully defended her title.
“This rigged election is proving to be far from a fair fight, but our Champion for the people is no stranger to long odds,” the campaign wrote.
“The DNC can change the rules to let billionaires in, while shutting grassroots candidates out. The corporate media can pretend we don’t exist, while lamenting the lack of diversity. The pundit elite can continue to discount Tulsi’s historic candidacy … but with your help, they will NOT knock us out.”
Moore said he doesn’t buy into Gabbard’s peddling of conspiracy theories, especially given her consistently poor showings.
The voters have spoken, he said, and maybe it’s time for Gabbard to listen. Gabbard still represents Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District although she hardly shows up to vote anymore. Even though she’s said she has no intention to run for reelection she refuses to give up her seat despite calls for her to resign, meaning she’s still allowed to collect her $174,000 a year salary.
“Frankly, I think the voters of Hawaii should be angry,” Moore added. “She should probably go back and do the job that she’s paid to do. I usually don’t speak so bluntly, but I think this is just absurd for her to continue participating in what is now a vanity exercise at taxpayer expense.”
Gabbard has said she plans to stay in the race until the July Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee. Moore, however, said he doesn’t think that’s a good idea if she wants to maintain her credibility moving forward.
While she performed well in some of the debates and brought a unique voice into matters of foreign policy, Moore said, the longer she stays in races the more likely it is people will take her less seriously.
“I think she’s doing a lot of damage to her reputation,” Moore said. “I just don’t understand it.”
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