Rep. Eric Swalwell of California is ending his presidential bid, becoming the first candidate in the crowded 2020 Democratic primary to exit the campaign.
Swalwell announced his decision on July 8.
Swalwell, 38, announced his exit in his home district, describing his decision as “the beginning of an opportunity in Congress with a new perspective” influenced by his 3-month-long presidential bid.
The four-term congressman’s White House effort never progressed significantly with voters, a fact Swalwell acknowledged on Monday in saying that “polls have had their way” in determining his viability. He had signaled before departing the race that he would consider bowing out if he was in danger of missing the cutoff for the next nationally televised Democratic debate, which is based on separate polling and donor qualifications.
“So I have no regrets. I’m excited about what we’ve done,” says Rep. Eric Swalwell as he announces that he is dropping out of the 2020 race for president at a press conference Monday. https://t.co/I01LwycZf1 pic.twitter.com/xnMp4SUQNa
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 8, 2019
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock missed the threshold for last month’s debate but was ahead of Swalwell in the competition for this month’s televised Democratic faceoff before the four-term California congressman exited the primary.
Asked about whether other candidates with similarly lackluster success so far in the packed Democratic primary should also consider dropping out, Swalwell demurred, describing the abandonment of a campaign as “really a personal decision.” He also declined to indicate which of his onetime presidential rivals he might endorse in the primary and said he had not planned to seek the presidency as “a vanity project” or “to write a book.”
As Swalwell prepares to seek another term in Congress, he said that he would not “take anything for granted.” Indeed, he already has a challenger in his liberal-leaning district: Democrat Aisha Wahab, a city councilwoman in Hayward.
NEW: Rep. Eric Swalwell thanks the media in presser ending 2020 presidential campaign, for trying “to ask the tough questions that we expect in a democracy.”
— ABC News (@ABC) July 8, 2019
Swalwell, 38, of California, was one of the more aggressive candidates on the debate stage last month, challenging former Vice President Joe Biden to “pass the torch” to a younger generation. But the attack did little to improve Swalwell’s standing in the crowded field vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. He is in jeopardy of falling short of the qualification requirements for the next round of debates.
Swalwell has consistently trailed in 2020 presidential polls.
Swalwell is among the youngest candidates vying for the Democratic nomination, along with Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and Representative Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii, both of whom are 37. The minimum age to serve as U.S. president is 35.
Swalwell said tackling student debt and gun violence were among the reasons he jumped into the race.
Reuters contributed to this report.