By Nick Cahill
Banking on a profile that has swelled from leadership posts on the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees and frequent stops on the cable TV news circuit, U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-San Francisco) entered the Democratic presidential race Monday evening during an appearance on “The Late Show With Steven Colbert.”
Swalwell, formerly a prosecutor in his San Francisco Bay Area district, joins fellow Californian Sen. Kamala Harris in an increasingly crowded Democratic field. The father of two says his campaign will focus almost entirely on gun control.
“I talk to kids who sit in their classrooms, afraid that they’ll be the next victim of gun violence. And they see Washington doing nothing about it after their moments of silence. And they see lawmakers who love their guns more than they love our kids,” Swalwell told Colbert. “And none of that is going to change until we have a leader who goes big on the issues we take on, be bold on the solutions we offer, and do good in the way that we govern.”
The fourth-term congressman has been talking publicly about a potential presidential bid since 2018 and while he’s certainly viewed as a long shot in a field full of sitting senators, Swalwell will have the opportunity to test his message early on voters in the state where he was born: Iowa.
Swalwell, 38, campaigned for Democratic candidates ahead of the 2018 midterms in Iowa and returned several times after the election for town halls and related appearances. He’s also visited states with early primaries like South Carolina and New Hampshire.
High-visibility slots on the Judiciary and Intelligence committees have enabled Swalwell, a vocal critic of President Donald Trump, access to details regarding the Russia investigation.
Swalwell also never misses an opportunity to criticize the Trump administration during interviews and a whole section of his House website is titled “Russia: Trump & His Team’s Ties. If the House moves to remove Trump, proceedings would start in front of Swalwell and the Judiciary.
The late-night TV announcement means Swalwell will apparently give up his secure House seat, as he has promised voters in California’s 15th District – which covers parts of the northern Silicon Valley and Bay Area cities like Dublin and Pleasanton – he won’t pursue the presidency and re-election.
California lawmakers moved the state’s primary up from June to March, meaning Swalwell won’t be able to jump back into the race for his House seat if his presidential bid lasts into 2020.
But the University of Maryland School of Law graduate is no stranger to pulling off political upsets: Swalwell earned his way to Congress at the age of 31, defeating 20-term Democratic Rep. Pete Stark in 2012.
Entering his fourth full term, Swalwell has pushed for campaign finance and student loan reforms, a ban on semi-automatic firearms and last month announced support for the Green New Deal. He was recently named chair of the Intelligence Modernization and Readiness Subcommittee and is a member of 21 caucuses including the Friends of Ireland, Sikh, Wine and Animal Rights caucuses.
If elected, Swalwell would be the youngest president so far and the third from California to go to the White House, after Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. He is the first person from his family to attend college and he claims to still be paying off student loan debt.