LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. — Fred Karger, the first openly gay presidential candidate from a major political party in American history — ended his campaign on Friday.
“It’s been one hell of a ride, and I want to thank the thousands of people across this country who volunteered, contributed, opened their homes, came to our events and cheered me on,” Karger said in a statement announcing the end of his campaign.
It’s been the experience of a lifetime. I’ve made many new friends and undoubtedly picked up a few more detractors. I hope and trust that my discussion of the key issues helped to open dialog on fixing the economy, balancing the federal budget, creating jobs, education reform, the environment, immigration reform, ending the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and fighting for full equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. We must move forward on these issues and many more.
I plan to rest up for awhile and then I will be back at it to help in the fight for LGBT equality. We will let you know as soon as our exact course is determined.
Karger, 50, is a retired political consultant and, although he never held elected or public office, worked on nine presidential campaigns and served as a senior consultant to the campaigns of Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Gerald Ford.
He officially announced his candidacy on March 23, 2011.
Karger was not present at the debates during 2011 and 2012, and appeared on the primary or caucus ballot in only five states — Michigan, Iowa, New Hampshire, Maryland, and California — and one territory, Puerto Rico.
In a 2011 profile, Karger told the Los Angeles Times that he never believed he could win, but hoped to take part in at least one presidential debate, to offer an example to gay young people that they do not need to hide and can reach for their ambitions, including running for the highest office in the land.