(CN) — After making strong headway in initial state caucuses, Pete Buttigieg is quitting the Democratic race Sunday on the heels of a devastating loss in South Carolina.
The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, acquired 26 delegates, the most ever gained by an openly gay candidate. Buttigieg canceled a Sunday night rally in Dallas and fundraiser in Austin, instead choosing to make a speech in South Bend, according to media reports.
Buttigieg, 38, was the youngest candidate in the race and was seen as a more moderate Democrat. With a narrow victory in Iowa and second place finish in New Hampshire, he came up in a disappointing third place in Nevada and a distant fourth place in South Carolina.
He received just 3% of the black vote in South Carolina, suggesting that he lacked the ability to broaden his base. Buttigieg received criticism for demoting his city’s black police chief and his handling of a police shooting of a black man by a white police last summer.
The Afghanistan war veteran found more success among older, white and educated voters. His campaign spent more time and resources in the state than anywhere else, but was unable to draw voters away from his fellow moderate former Vice President Joe Biden.
Buttigieg often accused Biden of not understanding modern politics, but later attacked Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders after he took the delegate lead, calling him too liberal for most Americans.
With his departure, the field of candidates has narrowed to six for Super Tuesday. Billionaire activist Tom Steyer announced an end to his presidential bid Saturday night after coming in a distant third place.