Swalwell Becomes First Democrat to Quit 2020 Presidential Race

U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., a 2020 presidential hopeful, speaks at an event hosted by San Francisco-based Scoop and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group on June 14, 2019. (Nick Cahill / CNS)

(CN) – And then there were about 24: Congressman Eric Swalwell of California announced the end of his 2020 presidential campaign Monday, becoming the first major candidate in the crowded Democratic field to drop out.

The 38-year-old Swalwell said he had no regrets and is excited about what he accomplished. He said stagnant polling numbers and funding goals that were not met after the first round of Democratic debates last month led to his decision.

“I promised my family, constituents, and supporters that I would always be honest about our chances,” Swalwell said. “After the first Democratic presidential debate, our 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.”

Swalwell estimates his campaign generated $850,000 from donors – not enough to continue moving forward.

“We didn’t want to just screw around here,” Swalwell said during a Monday press conference in his hometown of Dublin, California, east of San Francisco.

Swalwell will instead seek re-election to the U.S. House, where he currently serves on the House Judiciary and House Intelligence committees.

He leaves behind a crowded Democratic field vying to challenge President Donald Trump and was one of few candidates who has called for Trump’s impeachment over Russian interference in the 2016 election.

On Monday, he urged his constituents to view national policies like student loan debt, climate change and gun violence as issues that affect them locally.

“I entered this race determined to elevate the issue of gun violence, and at the debate, three top-tier candidates embraced my idea to ban and buy back every single assault weapon in America,” said Swalwell, noting Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden also support stricter gun policies.

He said he was glad to have moved the needle on issues he believes need more attention, like the gun buyback program he proposed.

Biden and another Democrat vying for the White House in 2020, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, took to Twitter on Monday to applaud Swalwell’s effort to raise the national conversation about gun violence.

“@ericswalwell, you’re a great fighter for the people of California. We are a stronger nation because of your work to protect our children and our communities from gun violence,” Harris tweeted.

Swalwell said whoever makes it to the general election would have to be able to take a “punch” from Trump on the national stage.

During the first Democratic debate, Swalwell took a swing at Biden, pulling a quote from the then-senator’s 1987 run for the White House in which he said it was “time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans.”

Swalwell said he does not know which of the candidates will get his endorsement at this stage.

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