WASHINGTON (CNN) — Larry Lessig is ending his presidential bid, blaming Democratic debate rules for locking him out of high-profile opportunities to make his pitch for campaign finance reform.
The Harvard professor and constitutional lawyer was using his long-shot campaign to call for stricter limits on money in politics and laws that would make voter registration automatic and curb gerrymandering.
He raised $1 million through a Kickstarter crowd-funding effort before Labor Day — but said, 12 weeks in, he’d decided that he couldn’t effectively make his case under tweaked Democratic debate rules restricting the stage to contenders who those who earned at least 1% support in three polls prior to the first debate — which Lessig didn’t do.
“It is now clear that the party won’t let me be a candidate — and I can’t ask people to support a campaign that I know can’t even get before the members of the Democratic Party; or to ask my team or my family to make a sacrifice even greater than what they’ve already made,” Lessig said in a four-minute video posted on YouTube Monday.
He said that the debate stage was the key way he had hoped to pitch his platform, which is contained within a proposal called the Citizen Equality Act.
“From the start, it was clear that getting into the Democratic debates was the essential step in this campaign. I may be known in tiny corners of the tubes of the Internets, but I am not well-known to the American public generally,” Lessig said.
“Our only chance to make this issue central to the 2016 presidential election was to be in those debates,” he said. “But last week, we learned that the Democratic Party has changed its rules for inclusion in the debates, and under the new rule, unless we can time-travel, there is no way that I will qualify.”