Eric Swalwell’s campaign began on a sound stage inside the Ed Sullivan Theater in New York City and ended 91 days later in a small union hall in Dublin. After canceling two-days of Fourth of July events in New Hampshire last week, the end of Swalwell’s presidential campaign appeared near. The rumors proved correct Monday afternoon when Swalwell became the first of a large Democratic primary field to drop out of the race for president.
“After the first Democratic presidential debate, our polling and fundraising numbers weren’t what we have hoped for, and I no longer see a path forward to the nomination. My presidential campaign ends today,” Swalwell said.
Despite the absence of any type of grassroots support for a run for president, Swalwell began his oddly quixotic campaign on April 8 during a taping of the Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
And even though Swalwell had burnished his nationwide credentials as a strict opponent of President Trump for more than two years through countless cable news appearances, his campaign, instead, chose to focus on ending gun violence. His buyback program for removing assault weapons from the streets appeared to gain little traction, other than to upset conservatives and gun owners.
A tweet exchange last November with a gun rights advocates in which Swalwell jokingly threatened to “nuke” gun owners who might raise a rebellion against his plan to take away their firearms, also highlighted what would be a number of gaffes during the campaign. Mistakes conservatives and gun owners lampooned all over social media.
In a tweet possibly intended to show his support for women’s issues, Swalwell tweeted the word “woman” does not appear in the Constitution. It does not, but neither does “man,” many of social media responded.
Earlier this month, while appearing oblivious to the scorn against Swalwell that exists on social media, the campaign tweeted a poll to gauge support for a assault weapons buyback program. “No. We love guns < kids” won handily. The inability for Swalwell’s campaign to make proper use of social media is a bit surprising, since much of the candidate’s rise since 2012 was attributed to his mastering of the medium.
The Democratic Party’s requirements for qualifying for future debates weighed heavily on Swalwell’s decision to end his campaign. Swalwell made the debate stage in Miami last month solely because he gained at least one percent in three party-sanctioned polls. The second requirement, which would have clinched his inclusion in the debates was 65,000 individuals donors. The threshold for polling is now two percent for the next debates and 130,000 donors, in addition, to candidates now needing to attain both requirements.
During the June 27 debate Swalwell raised his profile by telling former vice president Joe Biden to “pass the torch” to the younger generation. But the exchange did little to improve Swalwell’s campaign going forward, he told reporters Monday, leading to his decision to pull the plug on his bid for the White House.
Polling, though, was a constant problem throughout. Swalwell’s campaign never gained more than one percent in any poll and often failed to register any support. He revealed his campaign only received contributions from roughly 21,000 donors, a number far from even the requirement set for the June debates. Swalwell’s presidential campaign raised about $850,000 since April, he said. A full accounting his campaign finance reports will be available after July 15.
Any leftover proceeds from Swalwell’s presidential campaign can be rolled over to his re-election campaign for the 15th Congressional District, which he confirmed Monday. Hayward Councilmember Aisha Wahab announced her campaign for the 15th District just days after Swalwell began his presidential campaign and indicated he would not run for his seat in Congress.
But in the three months since, Swalwell has hedged on his future strategy several times, telling reporters he had until early December to make a decision before the filing deadline for candidates in the March 2020 primary. Wahab said Monday that she is still weighing her options whether to continue her congressional campaign.
At the moment, Wahab is the only credible candidate in the congressional race. At one point, though, the early race also included state Sen. Bob Wieckowski. But he dropped out last May just three weeks into his campaign. Instead, Wieckowski is running for the now-vacant seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Wieckowski’s abrupt exit may have been the first hint to East Bay politicos that Swalwell’s early exit from the presidential campaign would be far sooner than later.