Democratic presidential candidate, and four-term Congressman, Eric Swalwell (D-CA), announced the end of his brief campaign on Monday. The 38 year-old, who called on former Vice President Joe Biden to “pass the torch” during his lone debate performance, never came close to grabbing it, or any traction in the race. Swalwell becomes the first Democratic candidate— “major” or otherwise— to drop out. There are several others, polling at 1% or less, who should probably stop wasting their time and follow suit.
“Today ends our presidential campaign,” he said, “but it is the beginning of an opportunity in Congress, with a new perspective shaped by the lives that have touched mine and our campaign throughout these last three months, to bring that promise of America to all Americans.” As he alluded, Swalwell’s announcement ending his campaign came just three months after it began. He will return to his safe, Dublin-based 15th congressional district, to run for a fifth term next year.
Swalwell ran ostensibly on the need for “generational change,” in contrast to the septuagenarians leading the field. However, it was ultimately only ever a single-issue campaign, on the need for more gun control legislation. If he or his campaign were known for anything at all, it was an unfortunate Twitter spat with a gun rights enthusiast last November. In a column for the USA Today, Swalwell suggested a mandatory buy-back program for “military-style semi-automatic assault weapons,” and criminally prosecuting those who refused to give them up. When one user suggested such gun confiscation would result in a war, Swalwell joked that “it would be a short war my friend. The government has nukes.” Ultimately, and unsurprisingly, it was his presidential campaign that ended up being short.
The first and second round of Democratic debates were criticized for, essentially, letting everybody in. Of the 25 major candidates, only five missed the stage last month. Swalwell himself only qualified by hitting 1% in three separate polls, not donor or grassroots support. Fourteen candidates appear to have already qualified for the second round of debates later this month, and the DNC may need to rely on tiebreakers to decide who will get left out. By the fall, however, the DNC will winnow the field with stricter
requirements: 130,000 unique donors and 2% in four qualifying polls. As of last week, only five candidates have qualified: Biden, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
That leaves an entire crop of candidates and 1 percenters who should start looking for something else to do. For some, particularly westerners in red states, late night TV host Samantha Bee has some friendly advice: “run for Senate!” It’s no secret the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee would much rather see Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) and (perhaps until recently) former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) take on freshmen Republicans, Steve Daines and Cory Gardner, respectively. Even one of the Texans— probably former Congressman Beto O’Rourke— might be better suited for a somewhat shorter shot against John Cornyn than a run for the White House, or a cabinet post. The race is still long, but even with Swalwell’s departure, the field doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller.