And then there were 999: Eric Swalwell becomes first Dem to quit presidential race

Congrats, bro, on failing to outlast Marianne Williamson as a presidential candidate.

And yes, unlike Swalwell, she has qualified for a spot onstage at the next debate.


It feels only right that on the day we finally, finally, finally eject someone from the Democratic clown car, a new clown is right there to take his place.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that Swalwell, who is a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and a member of the House Intelligence Committee, is expected to announce he will launch a reelection bid for his fifth term in the lower chamber.

Speculation swirled over the weekend that Swalwell would be putting an end to his campaign after he canceled Independence Day events in New Hampshire last week.

A Washington Post/ABC News poll conducted June 29-July 1 showed Swalwell polling at zero percent among Democratic primary and caucus voters.

Swalwell made gun control the centerpiece of his presidential campaign, calling for legislation aimed at combatting gun violence.

He’s treating his decision with good humor, at least:

It was the coming debate that did him in, it seems. He qualified for the first one, making Joe Biden snicker in who-are-you-again fashion when Swalwell urged him to “pass the torch” and inspiring a classic WSJ headline to Joseph Epstein’s debate recap, “Mrs. Swalwell May Still Be Undecided.” But he’s likely to miss the next one, as both he and Steve Bullock, another ultra-longshot, are essentially tied for the 20th and final spot onstage with Bullock winning on a polling tiebreaker. Initially Swalwell had said he’d make a decision by December about whether to abandon his candidacy and run for the House again, but he may have concluded that whatever thin chance he had of building momentum will evaporate once he’s no longer getting free national television. The whole point of running was to build name recognition ahead of eventually running for statewide office in California, right? Well, now that he’s out of the debates, how’s that name recognition supposed to happen?


Jim Geraghty thinks Swalwell jumped in this year because he’s a young pol who’s had early local electoral success and thus all but genetically predisposed to believe he’s a president in the making. I favor the “name recognition for statewide office” theory, but they’re not mutually exclusive. Swalwell may have run with every expectation that he would fail badly while holding out some small forlorn hope that Dem voters would consider him as a “central casting” option — that is, he’s a white dude with some governing experience and, well, that’s whom we tend to elect to the presidency. He saw an opening by dint of his youth against septuagenarians like Biden, Bernie, and Warren and he wasn’t crazy to see that: Beto filled that niche very early on and had an initial polling bump, then the even younger Pete Buttigieg swooped in and supplanted Beto as the impressive newcomer on the fringe of the top tier. Swalwell thought voters who were in the market for a younger nominee might eventually give him a look too.

Which was silly, because he’s charmless.

But in fairness, it’s rare that someone who’s charmless sees that about themselves, especially someone who’s been validated by election to Congress. I’ll miss him, frankly: Although there are lots of Dems running asterisk-polling campaigns this year, only Williamson has delivered more goofiness than Swalwell has. Remember that time he was going to nuke gun owners who didn’t surrender their weapons as part of President Swalwell’s mandatory buyback program? Remember when he vowed to fire Jared Kushner in case Jared decided he desperately wanted to remain a senior White House advisor in the Swalwell administration?


Instead of getting more of that at the debates we’ll have to sit through Tom Steyer pandering his balls off to the left, droning on about impeachment at every opportunity. Not an upgrade if, like me, you follow politics mainly for the comic moments it provides.

Exit question: Is Swalwell’s failure bad news for Chuck Schumer? What I mean is that there are at least three potentially top-tier Senate candidates in the Democratic presidential field right now, Beto, John Hickenlooper, and … Steve Bullock. If Swalwell had edged past Bullock for that 20th debate slot, Schumer and other Dem leaders would have had an even more compelling case to make to Bullock that he hasn’t a prayer as a presidential contender and should drop out ASAP and run for Senate. As it is, thanks to Swalwell’s dismal performance, Bullock has an incentive to hang in there awhile longer. I think Hickenlooper, at least, isn’t long for this electoral world and that he’ll be a Senate candidate soon enough.

Update: Dunzo.

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David Strom 12:40 PM | July 23, 2024
David Strom 10:30 AM | July 23, 2024