Williamson lays off entire campaign staff, Castro exits race

Former Housing Secretary and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro dropped out of the Democratic race for president Thursday, and spiritualist author Marianne Williamson laid off her entire campaign staff amid rumors she was close to ending her campaign. 

The news from the two low-polling Democrats came on the same day that their top-tier competitors released hefty fourth-quarter fundraising hauls. 

WMUR in Manchester, N.H., reported that Williamson, citing a lack of financial support, had laid off her staff. Sources told the outlet that, at its height, the campaign had a total of approximately 45 paid staffers. Paul Hodes, the candidate’s former state director in New Hampshire, told CBS News he expected Williamson to continue her campaign on her own.

Williamson, known for her offbeat personality and regarded by some as a representation of New Age liberalism, found brief viral fame after her performance at the first two Democratic debates over the summer — so much so that Republicans, ironically or otherwise, donated to her campaign in the hopes that she’d be present for the subsequent debates. Their strategy did not pan out, as Williamson failed to meet the Democratic National Committee’s debate criteria. 

In an interview with Yahoo News this fall, Williamson maintained that her already minuscule campaign apparatus would not suffer as a result of her being left off the debate stage.

“My campaign is like a bonsai tree,” she said. “A bonsai tree has everything that a big tree has. But it’s within the limits of those glass walls. So I have everything every campaign has, just less of it. I’ll have three field organizers, somebody else has 90.”

Despite establishing herself in Iowa, Williamson was unable to raise enough money to compete with her rivals, many of whom were raking in eight-figure sums per quarter. From July through August of last year, Williamson’s campaign raised only $3 million, putting her in the bottom fundraising tier of the primary. 

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SAN ANTONIO, TX - OCTOBER 15: Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro introduces Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at a 'Latinos for Hillary' grassroots event October 15, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas. The event was part of the campaign's ongoing effort to build an organization outside of the four early states and work hard for every vote. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
US Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julian Castro speaks at the National Fair Housing Training and Policy Conference at the Housing and Urban Development Department in Washington, DC, on September 2, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 04: The Honorable Julian Castro and Eva Longoria, actress and co-founder, Latino Victory, attend the Latino Victory Foundation's Latino Talks event at The Hamilton on May 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talks with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro after taking part in a discussion on 'our nation's urban centers,' and 'challenges from housing and transportation to education and workforce accessibility' at the Center for American Progress (CAP) in Washington, DC, on March 23, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MARCH 11: Chairman Susan Collins, R-Me., introduces HUD Secretary Julian Castro, center, to Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., ranking member, before a Senate Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Dirksen Building on FY2016 budget estimates for the Housing and Urban Development Department, March 11, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Julian Castro, secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD), speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015. The hearing was entitled 'The Future of Housing in America; Oversight of the Federal Housing Administration.' Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 18: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (R) swears in Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro (L) as his wife Erica and daughter Carina look on during a ceremonial swearing in ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building August 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. Castro, the former Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, was officially sworn in on July 28. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
U.S President Barack Obama, right, gestures to Julian Castro, secretary of U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as they arrive to speak at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, July 31, 2014. Castro, the former San Antonio, Texas mayor, was sworn in this week and will begin his duties on Monday, Aug. 4. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - JUNE 17: San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro testifies at a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on his nomination to be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, June 17, 2014. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
INDIANOLA, IOWA - SEPTEMBER 15: San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro speaks at the 36th Annual Harkin Steak Fry on September 15, 2013 in Indianola, Iowa. Sen. Harkin's Democratic fundraiser is one of the largest in Iowa each year. (Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 05: First lady Michelle Obama talks with San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (C) and his brother Joaquin Castro during day two of the Democratic National Convention at Time Warner Cable Arena on September 5, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The DNC that will run through September 7, will nominate U.S. President Barack Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE. NC - SEPTEMBER 4: Democratic National Convention keynote speaker San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (D) addresses the 2012 Democratic National Convention at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by /The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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Earlier Thursday, Castro announced that he was ending his campaign. The lone Hispanic candidate remaining in the race, Castro had failed to qualify for the last two debates. He had focused his campaign on issues such as immigration, poverty and police violence against minorities, but drew the ire of some Democrats for his debate attacks on former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas and former Vice President Joe Biden.

“I’m not done fighting," said Castro in a video announcing his decision. “I’ll keep working towards a nation where everyone counts, a nation where everyone can get a good job, good health care and a decent place to live.”

With Castro’s withdrawal, the once overcrowded Democratic field has been whittled to 14 candidates, with the Iowa caucuses just over a month away.

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