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What does it mean when a candidate “suspends” a campaign as opposed to ending it?

Popel Arseniy, Shutterstock

Two Republican presidential candidates have suspended their campaigns following the Iowa caucuses, including Ohio’s Vivek Ramaswamy. But what does it mean to “suspend” a campaign?

University of Cincinnati political science professor David Niven said most candidates suspend, rather than end, campaigns.

“If you actually said, ‘I’m dropping out. You won’t have me to kick around anymore’ — which no one does — you would forfeit delegates so you would have less of a role at the party’s convention and in terms of raising money, you would be much more strictly limited from raising money to retire any debt that your campaign accumulated,” Niven said. “Whereas, in suspending, you really are still campaigning legally so you can continue to raise money, continue to hire consultants, or pay staff. It’s really a great deal of flexibility because suspend does not mean end."

Niven said by suspending a campaign, candidates are allowed to use money from their coffers to pay for consultants that can advise on future political efforts, or for polling to determine the viability of the candidate for other offices later.

And Niven, who worked for Democratic officeholders before coming to academic work, said Ramaswamy might be back in some capacity.

“He could take campaign money right now and poll Ohio to see if there is an appetite for him maybe running for governor or some other statewide office. He can take that money that he still has in his campaign, continue to have consultants and other professional staff to help him plot out the future," Niven said.

Ohio voters will decide the presidential primary on March 19.


Contact Jo Ingles at
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