After a hard-fought primary campaign only two candidates remain standing: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. But what happened to the other 17 major candidates? Here is a look at how they bowed out and what they’re doing now.
The former Republican governor of Texas departed from the race on 11 September 2015. According to his Instagram, Perry took some time off to travel the country after his short-lived run for the United State’s most powerful office. He flew to San Jose, California with his fellow Texas A&M alumnus, Tommy Orr, and rented a 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle. From the Silicon Valley hub, the two travelled southeast through the Mojave Desert en route to Las Vegas, Nevada. There Perry and Orr met up with the former’s daughter before doubling back to take the historic Route 66 from California into Arizona and through New Mexico, before returning to his home state of Texas. Perry made one last stop to visit his parents before returning back to his home outside of Austin, Texas.
The Republican governor of Wisconsin dropped out of the GOP primary contest on the 21 September 2015. Since departing the race, Walker, who is in his second term as Wisconsin’s governor has several options in front of him. He is well regarded by many others in the GOP, including Jeb Bush and Senator Marco Rubio. Many believe he could challenge for a third term as governor in two years. Others think he could mount a serious challenge for Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin in the 2018 Senate race. For now, Walker returns to Madison, Wisconsin and will continue to work toward his establishment conservative agenda.
The former Democratic Senator from Virginia dropped out of the race on 20 October 2016, shortly after the first Democratic debate. Since then, Webb publicly declined to endorse Clinton, and instead said he would consider voting for Trump.
On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Webb said: “If you’re voting for Donald Trump, you might be getting something very good or very bad. If you’re voting for Hillary Clinton, you’re going to get the same thing. Do you want the same thing?”
The former Republican senator and Democratic governor from Rhode Island dropped out of the presidential race on 23 October 2015. In the immediate aftermath, he took a six-week trip to Australia in order to visit his son, Caleb, who is studying in Melbourne. Chafee said he enjoyed seeing all the unique wildlife as well as his son. Upon his return to the States, he went down to Florida and watched his daughter, Louisa, successfully qualify for the U.S. Olympic sailing team. Chafee travelled down to Rio de Janeiro in August to watch his daughter compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics. He does not currently have any plans to return to politics.
The Republican Senator from South Carolina ended his presidential bid on 21 December 2015. An adamant Never Trumper, he endorsed Jeb Bush before his bid failed, then Ted Cruz, and now says he will vote for neither Clinton nor Trump on Election Day. Since withdrawing from the race, Senator Graham has returned to his role in the US Senate advocating for support for Israel as well as working on recovering from Hurricane Matthew. All this according to his website.
The former Democratic Governor of Maryland ended his presidential bid on 1 February 2016, after failing to win any delegates in the Iowa Caucus. Since failing to gain traction in the presidential race, O’Malley has become a surrogate for Hillary Clinton. He endorsed Clinton in glowing terms at the Democratic National Convention and has been campaigning for her as well as other down ballot Democrats in the run up to Election Day. He most recently did so in Maine.
The former Republican Governor of Arkansas ended his presidential bid on 1 February 2016, as well after failing to win a single delegate at the Iowa Caucus. Huckabee has since endorsed Trump, while attacking Clinton and Tim Kaine on the campaign trail for both their politics and “insult-driven campaign.”
The Republican US Senator from Kentucky ended his presidential bid on 2 February 2016 after failing to win any delegates at the Iowa Caucus. Since, dropping out of his presidential bid, Paul has returned to Kentucky where he faces Democratic challenger Jim Gray for his Senate seat. Both candidates won with large margins in the primary and most polls predict an Election Day victory for Paul.
The former Republican US Senator from Pennsylvania ended his presidential bid on 2 February 2016, also after failing to win any delegates in the Iowa Caucus. Since dropping out, Santorum has been traveling the country campaigning for Trump and other down ballot Republican candidates, including Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Marco Rubio in Florida.
The Republican Governor of New Jersey ended his presidential bid on 10 February 2016 after failing to win a single delegate in either the Iowa Caucus or the New Hampshire primary. Since dropping out, Christie has become a prominent advisor to Trump and is widely seen as the first establishment Republican to endorse him. Prosecutors have also questioned Christie over his role in Bridgegate. Two of his close political allies were convicted of closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge for five days in order to punish a local mayor who declined to endorse Christie in his gubernatorial race. No charges were filed against Christie in spite of four witnesses testifying that he had given the orders to close the bridge.
The former CEO of Hewlitt-Packard ended her presidential bid on 10 February 2016 after winning no delegates in either the Iowa Caucus or the New Hampshire primary. Since exiting the Republican primaries, Fiorina endorsed Ted Cruz and was set to become his Vice Presidential pick until he dropped out of the race as well in early May. Now Fiorina is eyeing a potential Senate run in Virginia next year, if Kaine were to vacate the seat as a result of Clinton winning the presidency.
The former Republican Governor of Florida ended his presidential bid on 20 February 2016 after poor performances in the first three primaries and caucuses left him well behind the top three candidates. Since his exit from the race, Bush has declined to vote for, let alone endorse, Trump. This has lead to much criticism from the rest of the Republican Party.
Dr. Ben Carson
The former neurological surgeon ended his presidential bid on 4 March 2016 after very a disappointing Super Tuesday. Since then Dr. Carson has been on the campaign trail for Trump, endorsing him a week later. At times, Dr. Carson’s endorsement of Trump has seemed lukewarm, but according to his Facebook page, he has urged voters not to write in his name on the ballot on Election Day and instead, “Please reconsider and make sure you cast a vote that really will count.”
The incumbent Republican Senator of Florida ended his presidential bid on 15 March 2016 after losing by large margins to Trump in his home state. Rubio endorsed Cruz in the aftermath of his loss before deciding to renege on his decision not to run for Senate again. In a landslide victory, Rubio defeated his main primary challenger Carlos Beruff, a wealthy, Trumpesque businessman. Rubio now faces Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy and Libertarian candidate Paul Stanton. The majority of polls predict a Rubio win.
The Republican Senator from Texas ended his presidential bid on 3 May 2016 after losing the Indiana Primary to Trump. Since bowing out, Cruz has refused to endorse Trump. In July, he spoke at the Republican National Convention where he did not endorse Trump, but spoke of the need to defeat Clinton in the general election. He spent the end of October hesitantly campaigning with Trump’s pick for Vice President, Mike Pence, in Iowa and Michigan.
The Republican Governor of Ohio ended his presidential bid on 4 May 2016 after Trump won the Indiana Primary. There was no mathematical way for him to win and once Cruz dropped out the odds of a contested contention were eliminated. Since, Kasich has refused to endorse Trump and is seen by many as preparing for a 2020 presidential bid. In the process of doing so, he went to New York over the summer to pitch a book about the 2016 presidential race.
The Independent Senator of Vermont ended his presidential bid on 12 July 2016, conceding defeat two weeks before the Democratic National Convention. Sanders said that Clinton had fairly won the primaries and the two would stand together to defeat Trump in this month’s election. Since, Sanders has been campaigning around the country for Clinton attempting to appeal to the left wing of the party. He has also spent time in North Dakota protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.