Eric Swalwell Exits 2020 Presidential Race

The California congressman, who tried to distinguish himself in a crowded Democratic primary field, said he'll focus on being reelected to the House.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) is dropping out of the Democratic primary after a three-month campaign that failed to gain traction in a field of more than two dozen candidates.

Speaking from a union hall outside San Francisco on Monday, Swalwell thanked his staff, supporters and family for their efforts, saying he’ll shift his focus to running for reelection to the House.

“Being honest with ourselves, we had to look at how much money we were raising, [and] where we were in the polls,” he said. 

As one of the youngest 2020 election contenders, Swalwell, 38, tried to distinguish himself as part of a new generation of Democratic leaders. 

During the first Democratic debate last month, he invoked an old quote from one of the front-runners, former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, saying that “it’s time to pass the torch.”

But the moment was overshadowed by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), who urged the candidates to focus on other issues, telling them that “America does not want to witness a food fight, they want to know how we’re going to put food on their table.” It became one of the most memorable lines of the night.

Swalwell also was overshadowed by other younger faces in the race, particularly Pete Buttigieg, 37. The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has steadily increased his national profile in recent months, entering the top tier of candidates.

During his brief run, Swalwell tried to make gun violence a prominent issue, and was the only candidate to favor buybacks of assault weapons. 

Swalwell declined to endorse another candidate, but did offer some thoughts on what he thought it would take to successfully debate President Donald Trump in the general election.

“Whoever we send to that debate stage is going to have to be able to take a punch, throw a punch, and then unite the country,” he said.

Ryan Grenoble contributed to this report.