First blood, blood, and bad blood: That’s this week’s narrative in the presidential race.
Start with blood. This afternoon in California, Representative Eric Swalwell ended his race for the Democratic nomination, shocking news for the many Americans who had no idea that he was running in the first location. Swalwell will seek reelection to the U.S. House instead. He is the candidate to depart the busy race.
Swalwell’s effort was quixotic from the beginning, but unlike Cervantes’s hero, he never actually journeyed anywhere. Swalwell was not able to construct much name recognition, even though managing to be eligible for the very first Democratic debate in June. His most prominent moment came in the second night of that debate, when he challenged Joe Biden to hand off the torch to a younger generation. Biden laughed Swalwell off; Kamala Harris delivered the punch that Swalwell had been hoping to land on the former vice president; and Swalwell more or less disappeared, end up using the second-least amount of talking time of the night, ahead of only Andrew Yang. He had been in danger of not making the second argument, at the end of July.
This is not necessarily an indictment of Swalwell; it’s just that it’s difficult to get attention in this field. One common explanation for why long-shot candidates run would be to raise their profiles, and possibly Swalwell failed, but based on some Morning checkup survey, 50 percent of respondents hadn’t even heard of himwith only his House colleague Seth Moulton faring worse.
It speaks well of Swalwell he is able to read the writing on the wall when a lot of his rivals are still feigning illiteracy. While he could be the first to depart the race, he is likely to be joined by others before too long. Take John Hickenlooper, the former governor of Colorado, who recently fired a lot of his team and is trying a relaunch. After initially seeming to attribute his former aides, he told a reporter in Iowa that the actual issue was likely the candidate. “Certainly the huge majority of the problem with the campaign was me not being as good of a messenger like I need to be, but you can’t change or commerce in a new offender,” he explained. That could be true of this Hickenlooper campaign, but voters can change or trade in–maybe not that a lot of them were at his corner at the first location.
Next, the new blood: Even as Swalwell prepares to depart, another Californian, the financier Tom Steyer, may enter the race, my colleague Edward-Isaac Dovere reports. I have written in this space multiple times that the field is finally at ability and will just shrink, and yet new candidates keep appearing. (Hello, Joe Sestak! Nice to see you, Steve Bullock!) Steyer is a fascinating case because he declared back in January that he wouldn’t run. Yet despite watching a field of neatly coiffed white dudes fail to go anywhere, he’s apparently tempted to try his hand anyway.