Francis Suarez ends his presidential bid, the first GOP candidate to drop out of the race

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez ended his long-shot presidential bid Tuesday after failing to qualify for the first Republican primary debate last week in Milwaukee. He is the first GOP candidate to drop out of the race.

“Running for President of the United States has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” Suarez wrote in a lengthy statement on his X account. “While I have decided to suspend my campaign for President, my commitment to making this a better nation for every American remains.”

Suarez centered his campaign on his record of success in Miami, winning re-election as a Republican in one of Florida’s bluest cities. But his candidacy struggled to gain momentum as he campaigned in early states only a handful of times —making only three trips to Iowa and two to New Hampshire since announcing his bid in June.

On the stump in early voting states, the mayor honed his message on his economic and policing record in Miami, railing against the “defund the police” movement and highlighting his family’s history migrating from Cuba to the United States.

Prior to the debate, Suarez suggested to reporters that he would drop out if he didn’t make the stage.

“If you can’t meet the minimum thresholds, you shouldn’t be trying to take time and volume away from people that do,” he said during a news conference at the Iowa State Fair, adding, “I don’t think candidates should just sort of linger around if they don’t have a credible path.” 

Suarez’s campaign announced in early August it had met the 40,000 unique donor threshold — one of the three benchmarks candidates must reach before being given a lectern on the stage in Milwaukee. 

The Miami mayor also believed he met the RNC’s polling requirement, thinking that three polls in which he’d hit the necessary 1% would be counted and that he would be allowed to debate. Suarez prematurely celebrated making the stage, posting a video that’s since been deleted, before learning one of those polls wasn’t counted by the RNC. 

Polling was an obstacle for the Suarez campaign from the start. Since launching his campaign at the beginning of the summer, the Miami mayor barely registered in polls, struggling to attract attention as he competed with two better-known Florida men. 

“The people who I’m running against right now are national figures for many, many years. I’ve been a national figure for 60 days,” said Suarez on Aug. 11.  “There’s a lot of polls that I haven’t been in.” 

Suarez, the only Latino candidate in the Republican primary, sought donations in a variety of ways since launching his campaign in June — at times soliciting donations via the mobile payment app Venmo and offering one lucky donor tickets to soccer superstar Lionel Messi’s debut with MLS’s Inter Miami last month.  

On the campaign trail, Suarez highlighted how crucial getting on the debate stage was for his long-shot candidacy. 

“Our next goal has been to make the debate stage, which we believe we will make and that’ll be my first opportunity to really introduce myself to the country,” Suarez told host Chuck Todd in an interview on Meet the Press NOW. 

Controversy swirled around Suarez’s campaign from the start after the Miami Herald reported he had doubled his net worth to $3.4 million during his time as mayor, leading critics to question if he was using his political standing for personal gain. Speaking to NBC News in July, Suarez was unapologetic.

“I’ve done well, and I’m not going to apologize for doing well,” Suarez said. 

Suarez, who makes $130,000 in salary as mayor, also had additional sources of income, including as an attorney and a corporate consultant.