Lawrence Lessig Drops Out Of The 2016 Presidential Race

MANCHESTER, NH - SEPTEMBER 19: Democratic presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig speaks on stage at the New Hampshire Democratic Party State Convention on September 19, 2015 in Manchester, New Hampshire. Five Democratic presidential candidates are all expected to address the crowd inside the Verizon Wireless Arena. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Source: Scott Eisen/Getty Images News/Getty Images

After a short-lived candidacy that many people might not have even known about, Lawrence Lessig dropped out of the presidential race for the Democratic nomination. If you hadn't heard of Lessig, that will quickly explain to you why he has decided to withdraw from the race. In a YouTube video announcing his withdrawal, Lessig said, "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 was, as he pointed out, known to some. He was the candidate who wanted to run for president, achieve a series of governmental reforms regarding campaign finance and corruption, and then resign and hand the job over to his vice president. Because of this — as well as his lack of being a household name — it's not overly surprising that Lessig has withdrawn from the race. Had he made it into the first Democratic debate, things might have gone a little differently for Lessig, but as he said in his video, entitled "The Democrats have changed the rules," it became impossible for him to qualify to participate.

Now from the start it was clear that getting into the Democratic debates was the essential step in this campaign. ... Our only chance to make this issue [political corruption] central to the 2016 presidential election was to be in those debates. But last week we learned that the Democratic party has changed its rules for inclusion in the debate. And under the new rule, unless we can time travel, there is no way that I will qualify.

"Until this week, the rule was three polls finding me at 1 percent in the six weeks prior to the debate," Lessig said, adding that he was close to reaching that goal. "But under the new rule, the standard is three polls at least six weeks before the debate." If this sounds confusing, that's because it is. According to Lessig, these new rules mean that he would have had to qualify with having hit 1 percent in three polls at the beginning of October, so "nothing that happens now could matter."

Steve Jarding, the general consultant for Lessig's campaign, penned an article for the Huffington Post, asserting that the Democratic National Committee's new rules essentially forced Lessig out. The key difference is in the slight wording change — "in the six weeks prior to the debate" vs. "six weeks prior to the debate." Lessig and his team thought they had until a couple of days before the debate to qualify, but the clarified rule states that Lessig had to have qualified six weeks ago. Plus, as Jarding wrote, Lessig's name often wasn't even included on polls, making it even more difficult for him to reach the criteria to participate.

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Lessig says he wanted to run as a Democrat because his policies align with the party, but said, "It is now clear that the party won't let me be a candidate." He said he's optimistic that they'll win the fight against campaign corruption, if leaders will push for it: "I will never give up in this fight."

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