Wayne Messam, probably the least known of the 26 Democrats who have visited Iowa in pursuit of the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, has dropped out of the race. Messam, the mayor of Miramar, Florida, announced he was running in March.
“Although the campaign goal of becoming President was not realized at this moment, I could not be more thankful for the many supporters including my family, friends and so many Americans I have had the awesome opportunity to meet on the campaign trail all over this nation,” Messam wrote in a post on Medium on Wednesday. “We have impacted this 2020 campaign in significant ways by challenging the status quo and not waiting our turn to make difference and to spark change.”
It’s unlikely Messam had any discernible impact on the 2020 campaign, and certain he did not have a significant one.
During the eight months of his candidacy, Messam didn’t qualify for any of the candidate debates. He was seldom included in lists of candidates in stories on the 2020 campaign. His fundraising was negligible, according to FEC filings. Messam’s campaign activies were almost entirely limited to Florida, and his fellow candidates never mentioned him.
Messam’s greatest moment of national attention came in September, when Buzzfeed profiled his presidential campaign, which it reported “appears to be in near-total disarray.”
[Internal campaign] documents as well as staffers, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect future employment prospects, depicted a no-hope campaign that nonetheless was embroiled in bitter disputes over money and control — a ‘D-list version of The Sopranos,’ in one description. In particular, staff members claim that Wayne and his wife, Angela Messam, have refused to pay them for their work… In some instances, staffers were told by the Messams that the couple believed them to be “volunteering” for the campaign, despite emails from senior staff to the Messams telling them about start dates for employees, and what staff members say were verbal agreements and offer letters from the campaign for their positions.
The campaign told Buzzfeed those problems were the fault of a contractor it had relied on for human resource services.
Messam did make one trip to Iowa. In May, he held a campaign event at Fox Brewing Co. in West Des Moines. He told the audience he was motivated to run for president because of the “dysfunction” in Washington D.C., and that being an outsider to national politics was actually an advantage.
“What does Washington experience have to do with meeting the needs of the American people?” Messam said at the event. “Because the mayors are closest to the American people. We don’t have the luxury to run away from our constituents in the grocery store. Whether we get enough support from the federal government, I have to make sure all the water is clean. I have to make sure our streets are clean.”
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is very similar to Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s explanation of how being the mayor of a minor city prepares someone to be president of the United States.
Like Buttigieg, Messam is in his second term as mayor, and like Buttigieg, he was reelected easily. Miramar, it should be noted, has a population of more than 140,000, while Buttigieg’s South Bend, Indiana, only has approximately 102,000 residents.
In his Medium post, Messam said he intends to remain mayor of Miramar.
“I will continue to be engaged during this 2020 cycle to ensure that we defeat Donald Trump,” Messam wrote. “My state of Florida will be ground zero and I intend to be a factor to mobilize our state for the Democratic Party Nominee. The stakes are too high and the American people cannot afford four more years of tyranny and disrespect of our Constitution.”
With Messam’s departure from the race, the number of Democrats seeking the nomination drops to 17.