Rep. Swalwell Ends Presidential Bid, First Democrat to Do So

By The Associated Press

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.

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.”

Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Eric Swalwell
Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) speaks during a press conference at his campaign headquarters where he announced that he is dropping out of the presidential race in Dublin, Calif., on July 8, 2019. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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.

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.

Rep. Eric Swalwell
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) speaks as Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) looks on during the second night of the first Democratic presidential debate in Miami, Fla., on June 27, 2019. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Swalwell said tackling student debt and gun violence were among the reasons he jumped into the race.

Reuters contributed to this report.