Swalwell was the first of the Democrats to acknowledge that he did not have the following and fundraising to continue the race. His polling, which barely if ever, reached 1 percent, was dwarfed by his fellow millennial Mayor Pete Buttigieg who topped all Democrats in fundraising in the most recent quarter. Swalwell, thanks to endless cable appearances that ranged from Fox to CNN to MSNBC, certainly had more of a national profile when he entered the race than Mayor Pete, but Democrat voters like what they see in the South Bend mayor.
You could tell Swalwell’s campaign was in trouble when he held a press conference in front of the National Rifle Association headquarters in Washington D.C. So few people attended that you could count them without getting off your fingers and toes. Ending gun violence was Swalwell’s signature issue.
Swalwell’s early decision opens the way for his to run for a fifth term in Congress representing Southern Alameda County. He pulled off a stunning upset back in 2012 when he shocked 40-year incumbent Pete Stark—that happened because of the state’s open primary that set up two Democrats running in the fall (Republican registration in the district was at 18% for the 2018 election, decline to state was about 23% compared to 47% Democrat).
Stark lived in Maryland and rarely touched down in the district, a fact that Swalwell hit hard during the campaign. He received a substantial crossover vote from “anyone but Pete” folks. Until he decided to run for president, Swalwell paid lots of attention to the district, flying home every weekend and routinely holding events to stay in touch.
He had gone to Washington D.C. promising to work across the aisle with Republicans and pushed forward a few bipartisan bills, but found life was better embracing former (and now current) Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He moved into a leadership role with her help and then became an outspoken anti-Trump spokesman on the cable channels.
Presumably, he hoped that national notoriety would translate into support for a presidential bid, a miscalculation he ended Tuesday.
He likely will have a Democrat challenger next March. After Swalwell declared for president, Hayward City Councilwoman Aisha Wahab announced she would run for the seat. She was elected to the council last November and describes herself as a community organizer, former foster child and non-profit director. She says she’s the first Afghan-American woman elected to office in the United States.
Given how far left Swalwell has moved, she will find it a challenge to run to his left in what is a safe Democrat district.