July 08, 2019
Swalwell announces departure as billionaire Tom Steyer prepares to make late entry into the crowded Democratic field
California congressman Eric Swalwell withdraws from 2020 presidential race
California congressman Eric Swalwell has withdrawn from the 2020 presidential race, ending his longshot candidacy for the Democratic Party’s nomination to instead focus on his re-election to the House of Representatives.
Swalwell suspended his bid in an announcement from his California headquarters on Monday afternoon.
In a written message on his 2020 campaign website, Swalwell said “polling and fundraising numbers weren’t what we had hoped for and I no longer see a path forward to the nomination”.
“My presidential campaign ends today, but this also is the start of a new passage for the issues on which our campaign ran,” he continued.
Speaking later, he added: “We need a candidate who’s tested … because Trump is the best political puncher ever in American politics, so whoever we send to that debate stage … is going to have to take a punch, throw a punch and then unite the country at the end of the campaign.”
News of Swalwell’s departure came as another Californian, Tom Steyer, was poised to enter the crowded Democratic field, which features more than 20 candidates.
Steyer, a billionaire environmental activist, had previously stated he would not run for president in 2020 but reportedly told staffers last week he would formally launch a presidential campaign on Tuesday. Steyer has led the movement to impeach Donald Trump and emerged over the past decade as the top Democratic donor in the US.
The Democratic contenders faced off in the first set of primary debates last month, which for some proved a breakout moment but for others did little to advance their prospects.
Swalwell, who despite being a prominent face in Washington remains virtually unknown on the national stage, has languished in the polls since launching his campaign in April.
Signs of trouble were evident last week when Swalwell canceled a two-day swing through the key battleground of New Hampshire.
The 38-year-old congressman had hoped to cast himself as part of a new generation of leaders; but others, such as South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, have instead claimed that ground in the early stages of the 2020 primary.
Swalwell sought to distinguish himself by making gun control a central plank of his campaign, choosing to launch his bid near the site of the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“I’m just so thankful that he ran, and that he ran on doing something about gun violence,” said Fred Guttenberg, the Parkland father whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was one of 17 students and educators killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school.
Guttenberg, who did not formally endorse any candidates but had praised Swalwell’s focus on gun control, said he was confident that the issue of gun violence would stay at the center of the 2020 Democratic primary campaign.
Among Swalwell’s bolder proposals was a plan to spend $15bn on an Australia-style federal ban and buyback of military-style “assault weapons”.
“We’re not just here to stand up to the NRA,” he said outside the National Rifle Association headquarters in Virginia last month. “We’re here to beat the NRA.”
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