Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), whose White House candidacy has polled at an embarrassing 0% in multiple national public surveys, became the first Democrat presidential hopeful to drop out his 2020 campaign.
“Being honest with ourselves, we had to look at how much money we were raising, where we were in the polls,” Swalwell said at his campaign headquarters, before claiming that he “moved the needle on the debate stage with an issue I was very passionate about.”
Swalwell, 38, announced his exit in his home district.
“So we’ve achieved that,” he said in reference to gun control measures. “But we have to be honest about our own candidacy’s viability.”
Swalwell, who struggled to win even 1 percent among main and caucus voters in latest surveys, said he was leaving his presidential campaign in favor of focusing on re-electing House of Representatives.
“Today ends our presidential campaign, but it is the beginning of a new opportunity in Congress,” he added.
Before leaving the race, he had indicated that if he was in danger of missing the cutoff for the next nationally televised Democratic debate, based on separate polling and donor qualifications, he would consider bowing out.
I want thank my supporters & friends, my staff, & my family for making this journey possible. I’ll never forget the people I met & lessons I learned while traveling around our great nation. Though our campaign is ending our mission to end gun violence is just beginning… pic.twitter.com/voEJRpYd2R
— Eric Swalwell (@ericswalwell) July 8, 2019
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.
But Swalwell is viewed as a rising star in the House Democratic majority, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi lauding him during an appearance in San Francisco on Monday. “He had a message of national security and gun safety that he wanted to convey to the country and he did that,” Pelosi told reporters.
Includes reporting from The Associated Press.