The 2020 Democratic presidential race saw its first exit this week, with California Rep. Eric Swalwell calling it quits Monday, less than three months into a White House bid that failed to gain traction.
“Today ends our presidential campaign,” Swalwell said in a news conference Monday. “But it is the beginning of an opportunity in Congress with a new perspective.” The 38-year-old said he’ll run for a fifth term in the House and continue his work on gun law reform.
Swalwell wasn’t the only Democrat making news this week in the crowded 2020 primary field.
One out, one in
Despite Swalwell’s exit, the Democratic field held at a net zero change this week. That’s because billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer announced he was launching his own presidential bid Tuesday, after ruling out a run earlier this year.
“What do we care about? We care about improving the world and handing it on the next generation, ” Steyer said, summing up his anti-elite, pro-impeachment message in an announcement video.
The 2020 shake-ups come amid news that former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s campaign is struggling to stay afloat. Five of his campaign’s senior advisers quit in June, after Hickenlooper reportedly refused to drop out and run for Senate to replace Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.
Montana’s term-limited Gov. Steve Bullock and former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke have also been floated as potential 2020 U.S. Senate candidates.
Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor at Cook Political Report who focuses on Senate races, said the presidential candidates who may be considering a Senate run are “well-known entities in their states” who “have expanded their fundraising reach” with their presidential campaigns.
“They can afford to wait until the filing deadline, or close to it, before committing” to running for Senate, Duffy said.
Another thing to consider: Many Senate filing deadlines aren’t until next spring.
Kobach for Kansas, headache for GOP
While Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is reportedly mulling a U.S. Senate run in Kansas, former Kansas secretary of state and right-wing firebrand Kris Kobach this week formally jumped into the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Roberts.
Despite President Donald Trump’s endorsement, Kobach lost the 2018 gubernatorial race in Kansas by 5 points to former Democratic state senator Laura Kelly.
The National Republican Senate Campaign issued a swift and biting response to Kobach’s new campaign, saying he “put President Trump’s presidency and Senate Majority at risk.”
But Kobach, a hardline immigration advocate who briefly led the Trump administration’s now-defunct voter integrity commission, is making his support for Trump central to his Senate bid.
“The president and I just spoke a few days ago on the Fourth of July,” Kobach said during his campaign launch. “And it became clear to me that the president needs someone who will lead the charge for him in the United States Senate.”
Kobach’s run could also energize Kansas Democrats, who are looking to flip their first Senate seat in the state in 90 years. “Kansas Democrats are smiling. I don’t think they’re quite salivating,” said Burdett Loomis, a political science professor at the University of Kansas.