As was widely rumored Monday morning, Rep. Eric Swalwell — a 38-year-old Democratic congressman whose district is in the far East Bay — used a press conference today to bow out of the 2020 presidential race.
"After the first Democratic presidential debate, our polling and fundraising numbers weren't what we hoped for," Swalwell said in a statement. "I no longer see a path forward to the nomination." Swalwell had already canceled campaign appearances in New Hampshire that had been scheduled for last week. You can see his televised remarks via NBC Bay Area.
He adds on Twitter, "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..."
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
The move will come as no great shock to those watching the already crowded field of candidates as it begins to whittle itself down to a manageable size. But what is rather surprising is news, via inside sources, that California billionaire Tom Steyer now intends to enter the race, at this late date. As the New York Times reports, Steyer has apparently reconsidered the decision he made six months ago not to run, and this may be of some concern to Democratic candidates and PACs who were hoping for some of his money.
Steyer has reportedly funded some polling on his own behalf, and recorded a TV spot that's ready to roll out announcing his candidacy in early-voting states. That ad, and a campaign announcement, could reportedly be coming as early as this week.
Per the Times:
Since breaking onto the political scene by backing several high-profile statewide initiatives in California in 2010, Mr. Steyer has engaged in a series of heavily funded, attention-grabbing crusades, most recently spending tens of millions of dollars to promote a campaign demanding President Trump’s impeachment. That effort has flagged over the past few months, frustrating Mr. Steyer, according to people familiar with his thoughts.
Meanwhile, Steyer is coming up against a deadline of July 16, by which point he would need to have attracted 65,000 donors in order to qualify for the second round of debates.
And as the Times notes, even landing on television in the debate wasn't enough for Swalwell to gain any traction — he was polling at or below 1 percent before and after the debate. Add to that the pitfall of populist candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders attacking Steyer as being part of the "the 1 percent," and likely bringing up his past as a hedge fund manager who invested heavily in fossil fuels, who's now had a reawakening as an environmentalist.
A second round of campaign fundraising reports are due next week from all 23 remaining candidates in the Democratic field, which will be a telling statement of where things stand for each campaign's viability. The Associated Press reports that former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has pledged to remain in the race (for now), despite a couple of departures from his campaign staff.
Related: Local Billionaire Drops $10 Million On 'Impeach Trump' TV Ads [SFist]