Eric Swalwell Drops Out of Race Nobody Knew He Was Running

We won't have a little-known Congressman from somewhereoranother to kick around any more.

Shocking everyone, or perhaps no one, a guy nobody thought was going to be President has figured that out, too.

“Pass the torch,” Rep. Eric Swalwell told former Vice President Joe Biden two weeks ago. But if he does, Swalwell won’t be around to take the handoff.

The longshot 2020 candidate, who tried to make a name for himself on cable news shows as the voice of a younger political generation, dropped out of the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential race on Monday.

Swalwell ran with gun control at the center of his platform, and he was the first presidential candidate to call not only for a ban on assault-style rifles, but also for the government to buy the ones already in public hands.

“He’s clearly leading the conversation around addressing gun violence in America,” spokesperson Caitlyn McNamee said last week.

But Swalwell had fallen from the 1% he was polling at early on in his short campaign, and he was at high risk of being bumped from the second debate.

To little avail, the 38-year-old Bay Area congressman recently attempted to make a mark with some swings at rival candidates during last month’s Democratic debate. After an early shot at Biden, Swalwell demanded South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigeig fire his police chief after an officer in his city shot an unarmed black man.

“So under Indiana law, this will be investigated and there will be accountability for the officer,” Buttigeig replied.

—CBS News, “Democrat Eric Swalwell drops out of presidential race

Scrambling by the other candidates for Swalwell’s supporter is sure to be fierce.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2020, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. People were kicking him around? I’d forgotten he was running notwithstanding the fact that he was in the debate.

    Perfect picture, though 🙂

  2. Paul L. says:

    I knew Swalwell was running and supported him.

    He is a honest Democrat running on Gun Registration and Confiscation.

  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:

    He is a honest Democrat running on Gun Registration and Confiscation.

    Actually he was proposing banning and buyback of “military-style semiautomatic assault weapons”
    If you have to lie to make your point…you really don’t have a point to make.

  4. Teve says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: But he gets style points on praising honesty and lying in the same sentence. 😀 😀 😀

  5. Tyrell says:

    “banning and buyback of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons”: what is the definition of that type of gun?
    Does banning mean confiscation?
    How about gun owners who modify a standard rifle into a “semiautomatic” rifle – will they be arrested?
    Note: I am not a gun collector. I do not own any working guns. I am not in the NRA.

  6. Hal_10000 says:


    The assault weapons buyback is theater. They are used in a tiny percentage of crimes. Mass shooters are using them mainly because they copy each other’s methods (they once favored the TEC-9 and it was banned with no impact on shootings). As a practical matter, if you just take the AR-15, there are an estimate 10 million AR-15’s in the United States. If you start a buyback, let’s be optimistic and assume a 20% compliance rate, similar to Australia. That means eight million still out there. Unless you’re planning to bash down doors, that makes the buyback useless. And let’s take some guesses as to whose doors will be getting bashed down first.

    As for Swalwell, good riddance. I’d had more than enough on him. He can go back to being the most ratio’d man on Twitter.

  7. grumpy realist says:

    Never heard of the guy……Eric who?

  8. wr says:

    @grumpy realist: “Never heard of the guy……Eric who?”

    He’s the second-ranked Democrat on the House intelligence committee after Adam Schiff.

    And while it’s fun to make fun of him for his useless run for president, all this “Eric Who?” just makes otherwise intelligent people look less so. Not knowing who he is really doesn’t make you cool, unless this is high school.

  9. James Joyner says:

    @wr: While the post is mostly tongue-in-cheek I must confess to not having heard of him. We share a birthday but he was likely not potty trained when I graduated high school. And he’s been in Congress a very short time. It’s not like he’s a John McCain or something.

  10. wr says:

    @James Joyner: “And he’s been in Congress a very short time.”

    Six years is a very short time?

  11. Tyrell says:

    @wr: Six years is enough. Term limits!

  12. James Joyner says:


    Six years is a very short time?

    In an institution where people spend decades, yes. Few members of the House are famous. Even fewer make a dent in six years. What has he accomplished?

  13. MarkedMan says:

    To be honest I think we have to get over the “I can’t believe so many people are running for President” hot take. In the past half century we have had a number of nominees that didn’t have their Party’s hand on their shoulder, including the last two Presidents, so that removes a huge barrier to entrance. Couple that with the fact that even the fringiest of candidates gets an instant platform for themselves or their issues on a national basis. And no matter how small that platform is, it is much bigger than they could achieve absent a Presidential run.

    There is almost no downside, as long as you remember that no matter how frustrating it might be, you are getting exposure. Old fogies who mistake small in person audiences with lack of reach can make a serious mistake, such as Gary Johnson and the damage he did to the libertarian party with this (the action starts around :20 in)

  14. David S. says:

    @Hal_10000: A buyback seems to me to be more effective against the suicide rate than any crime rate. Which is worthwhile.

  15. Gene Ralno says:

    I’d suggest we remember Swalwell this way. He proposed the use of military force and even nukes to enforce his will. This “lawmaker” apparently is not sufficiently educated to have heard of the Posse Comitatus Act, a federal law of 1878 (18 U.S.C. § 1385, original at 20 Stat. 152). It forbids the use of military forces to enforce domestic policies within the United States. If he had ever served his country, he’d understand that nobody in the military would ever fire on peaceable Americans.

    That aside, this left coast boy doesn’t have the guts to personally confiscate anyone’s firearm. Here’s my message for the big shot who never served his country and obviously doesn’t respect it. He believes he personally has powers specifically forbidden by the Constitution to the whole federal government. As America’s supreme law, the Constitution limits federal government authority over citizens.

    The term “militia” refers to peaceable, lawfully armed people. They aren’t reservists, national or state guardsmen, inactive military or any other organized group. They’re civilians. How do we know? The founders would have had no reason to affirm this natural human right to military people because the military already was under complete control of the government. The government owned and controlled the arsenals, ammunition stockpiles and most of the arms. The government also directed their use. To think our founders would feel a need to affirm, to its own military the right to keep bear arms, is as absurd as Swalwell himself.

    In this context, the term “infringed” clearly means even the slightest meddling by the federal government is strictly forbidden. Additionally, McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010), is a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. It ruled that the right of an individual to “keep and bear arms,” as protected under the Second Amendment, is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment against the states. The term “incorporated” means even the states are forbidden from meddling in any way with a civilian’s right to keep and bear arms.

    Therefore, the only option to implement what this big mouthed small fry would do is to declare war on America’s firearms owners, all 140 million of them. So, as they say in New York and Connecticut, molon labe. We caught on early to this ninny’s little flimflam. He wants no interference with his party’s goal of using taxpayer money to fund entitlements. The democrat party needs entitlements to exchange for votes. They fear any discussion of resistance to their will.

    Swalwell abandoned compromise but he still needed universal background checks that are impossible to regulate without universal registration. What he needed first was background checks on transfers between mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and neighbors. He needed inheritances, bequeathals, gifts and sales of inherited collections, however small they were.

    A transfer includes sale, giving, lending, returning, renting, or simply handing a firearm to another person or any action that causes a firearm to be transferred from one law-abiding person to another law-abiding person. Those are the voters he hopes to transform into dependents of the government. Once he knows who they are, he’ll choose which are allowed to have firearms.

    Citizens just becoming aware should open their minds to the fact that the U.S. is very lucky to have more than a hundred million legally armed citizens with half a billion firearms in private hands. They should recognize that these are the most peaceable, lawful people in our nation. Democrats need to look at our open borders, colossal drug trade, scarce law enforcement, timid prosecution, limited incarcerations, gang strength, mental defectives living at home and terrorists roaming the streets. Can anyone even imagine the unbridled carnage if this twerp’s goal of total confiscation were to be achieved?

    Clearly Swalwell irrationally fears his neighbors and even other citizens who are armed. So every time you vote, think about this. Those who carry out mass murders fear armed citizens and it’s precisely why governments always disarm the governed before they purge the disobedient. Taken together, all the mass shooting deaths from nuts, felons, terrorists and illegal aliens, throughout history for the entire planet, is infinitesimal compared to the total number of civilian citizens murdered by governments. It’s the reason for our 2nd Amendment and throughout human history, it has been a very bad idea to allow any government to disarm its people. And think about the consequences of not voting.

  16. wr says:

    @Gene Ralno: We get it. You love your guns. You dream of being able to use them to prove you’re a real manly man by shooting a congressman or maybe a couple of darker-skinned individuals, just in case they don’t sufficiently love Jesus. But for God’s sake, can’t you just say this without ranting on for thousands of words? Pro tip: There is no one in the world who doesn’t already agree with you — and precious few who do — who would wade all the way through this drivel.

  17. al Ameda says:

    If he had ever served his country, he’d understand that nobody in the military would ever fire on peaceable Americans.

    Yeah, I know, service as a Deputy District Attorney in a populous metropolitan area is analogous to serving Vladimir Putin.

    That said, this country is awash in guns and the conservative response is always, ‘the problem is that not enough people have guns.’ We live in a gun culture, one that illustrates Say’s Law – supply creates it’s own demand – really well. Our oversupply of guns nearly ensures that we will experience mass shootings periodically throughout any year.

    We’re not serious about any of this, so we are, as you alluded to above, going to put up this because the number of people murdered in these mass shootings is as you said, ‘infinitesimal compared to the total number of civilian citizens murdered by governments.’

    Even Scalia, in Heller, said explicitly that gun regulations are not unconstitutional.