WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican businessman Perry Johnson suspended his long-shot bid for president on Friday after failing to gain traction in the race.
Johnson said the fact that he wasn’t permitted to participate in the debates played a major role in his decision. He accused the Republican National Committee of using “authoritarian power” to keep him off the debate stage despite the RNC contending he hadn’t met the necessary polling and donor qualifications.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the people should decide the next president of the United States, not the head of the RNC and her cronies,” Johnson wrote in a statement. “With no opportunity to share my vision on the debate stage, I have decided at this time, suspending my campaign is the right thing to do.”
An RNC spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Johnson maintained he was only suspending his campaign, not officially withdrawing, and would keep a small political team on staff in case the trajectory of the race changed.
He is the third Republican candidate to pause or end his campaign in a primary contest in which former President Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in early polling. Miami Mayor Francis Suarez suspended his campaign in August, and former Texas congressman Will Hurd dropped out earlier this month.
Johnson filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission after failing to qualify for the first GOP presidential debate in August, claiming that he was left off the stage not because he hadn’t met the polling and donor qualifications but because he was “a political outsider.”
He also didn’t qualify for the second debate.
This wasn’t Johnson’s first attempt to run for political office. He was considered a top GOP candidate for Michigan governor last year before he and four other Republican hopefuls were disqualified because of invalid signatures.
Johnson spent money earlier this year to run an ad during the Super Bowl targeting voters in Iowa, the first state to vote on the GOP presidential field, touting his plan to cut federal spending by 2% every year. He announced his presidential bid in early March shortly after speaking at the opening day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
The businessman earned a fortune starting Michigan-based Perry Johnson Registrars Inc., which certifies if businesses are meeting industrial standards.
Johnson said in the statement that he is “100% committed to helping Republicans win across the country in 2024” and planned to be active in making sure they do. He did not issue an endorsement of any of his rivals.