Wieckowski drops out of congressional race after less than a month

State Sen. Bob Wieckowksi’s campaign for Congress is over before it even started after he announced his exit on Friday from the race for Rep. Eric Swalwell’s seat in the 15th Congressional District.

Wieckowski told The Mercury News, “After much thought and review of the political landscape, I know I can best serve our community closer to home.”

Wieckowski filed an intent to run for the Tri-Valley, Hayward, and Tri-Cities seat on May 15.

The timing of the move increases speculation that the continuing struggles of Swalwell’s presidential campaign led Wieckowski to the conclusion the congressman will run for re-election to his seat for another term next March.

Wieckowski had previously indicated he would drop out of the race if Swalwell chose to return to the district. The other main candidate in the race, Hayward Councilmember Aisha Wahab, has never publicly articulated how she would proceed if Swalwell ultimately runs for re-election, a scenario that would immediately make him the overwhelming favorite, as it stands today.

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Wieckowski’s announcement also hints at a dilemma East Bay insiders have alluded to in recent weeks. Swalwell’s repeated hedging over his political future has effectively served as a potent block against donors pledging support for any of the early field of candidates hoping to replace him next year.

Just this week, Swalwell followed up a CNN town hall on Sunday with appearances on the Daily Show and The View. He also continued his efforts to secure 65,000 campaign donors to clinch a guaranteed spot in two Democratic presidential debates at the end of this month. The deadline for reaching this threshold is June 12. Swalwell has already reached another requirement by posting at least one percent in three national polls approved by the Democratic Party.

But Swalwell also reiterated to The Hill on Tuesday that he would consider running for re-election to Congress if his campaign fizzles. He would have until early December to make the decision in order to file for re-election in the 15th District.

Wieckowski’s future in government now appears uncertain. He is termed out of his state Senate seat in 2022. Last January, Wieckowski opened a campaign account for California secretary of state for 2022. The committee, however, likely serves as a placeholder account, a move often used by long-time elected officials to park campaign funds for another election cycle.

How much Wieckowski has transferred or raised for the secretary of state account is unknown. He is not required to file a full finance report until the end of this month, but the account show significant expenditures, including more than $70,000 to various functions within the state Democratic Party.