California Congressman Eric Swalwell is the first Democrat to jump into the 2020 presidential race.
“He’s definitely running,” a source told Politico. The outlet reported that Swalwell is the first potential candidate to visit Iowa after the midterms. Swalwell will meet with the Iowa Democratic Party chairs in Dubuque and will head to Des Moines to meet with members of the Asian & Latino Coalition.
Swalwell, 37, has already made several trips to Iowa as well as New Hampshire, the first-in-the-nation caucus and primary states. He endorsed three congressional candidates in the states through his Future Forum PAC and Politico reports that he has asked for lists of potential staffers to build his operations.
Swalwell is an Iowa native and was involved in former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley’s unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid. But O’Malley has not ruled out another run himself and the young congressman faces an uphill climb against much higher profile Democratic stars like Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Kamala Harris.
Here is what you need to know:
1. Eric Swalwell Is a Career Public Servant
Eric Swalwell was born in Iowa, raised in California, and attended the University of Maryland, where he earned a law degree, The Wall Street Journal reported in a 2012 profile. While in college, Swalwell interned for Democratic California Rep. Ellen Tauscher between 2001 and 2002. After the September 11 attacks, he used his student government position to create a scholarship program for students who lost family in the attacks, The Pleasanton Weekly reported, calling it his first legislative accomplishment.
After earning his law degree, he went to work for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office. He prosecuted more than 1,000 cases, including murder, human-trafficking, and sexual violence. In 2006, he was also appointed to Dublin’s Heritage & Cultural Arts Commission. In 2008, he served on the Dublin Planning Commission, and in 2010 he was elected to the Dublin City Council.
In 2012, he mounted an unlikely Congressional run.
2. Swallwell’s Congressional Career Got Off To Controversial Start
Just months after joining the Dublin City Council, the then-31-year-old Swalwell challenged 20-term Democratic Rep. Pete Stark in California’s 15th Congressional District, The Wall Street Journal reported. Swalwell took a leave of absence to run and opponents launched a recall effort to remove him from the panel. The attempt was later dropped.
Swalwell was able to challenge Stark, who had been elected seven years before Swallwell was born, after California law allowed the top two primary vote-getters to advance to the general election. Stark finished nearly six points ahead of Swalwell in the open primary. In the general election, the Stark campaign accused Swalwell of being a Tea Party candidate. The attack backfired and led to Swalwell being endorsed by both the San Francisco Chronicle and San Jose Mercury News.
Stark refused to debate Swalwell so the young Democrat organized a mock debate featuring an actor who stood in for the congressman and quoted him verbatim. Swalwell won the race by 4 points.
3. Eric Swalwell Quickly Rose Through House Ranks
After taking office, Swalwell organized a bipartisan group of new lawmakers called the United Solutions Caucus, Roll Call reported. The group proposed numerous bills to cut billions of government spending by cutting waste and improving efficiency. By the end of his first term, Swalwell got three bills passed and had two signed into law, the most of any freshman Congressman, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. He won his first reelection by nearly 40 points.
He was later named to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and was appointed the ranking member of its CIA subcommittee. In 2016, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi promoted Swalwell to the vice-chair and later co-chair of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which determines committee assignments and policy priorities.
Swalwell has not been shy about publicity. In 2013, he came under fire for violating House rules by recording a video of him voting against a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks and posting it to the internet video site Vine. In 2016, The Hill labeled him “the Snapchat king of Congress” and he famously violated House rules again by streaming House Democrats’ sit-in against gun violence in June of 2016 on Facebook.
4. Swallwell Is a Fierce Critic of President Donald Trump
As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Swalwell has emerged as a leading Democratic voice on issues of Russian interference in the 2016 election and has strongly criticized President Donald Trump in his frequent television appearances.
“Despite Russia’s harmful national interests against the U.S., and its human rights violations around the world, President Trump and his team are directly and indirectly tied to Russia,” Swalwell’s official House page says. “Why is America’s leader and his team so close to Russia? This is either due to poor judgement or a deeper personal, financial, or political link between President Trump and Russia. It is not normal for the leader of our country to be so extensively tied to a foreign government that has sought to undermine democracies across the globe, and connections like these should be concerning to American citizens everywhere.”
After Democrats won control of the House in the 2018 midterms, Swalwell vowed to force Trump to produce his tax returns. “The American people will see his tax returns, not because of any voyeuristic interest but because they should know if he’s corrupt,” he said in an interview with NBC, adding that Democrats will also investigate Trump “cashing in on access to the Oval Office” and his “financial entanglements overseas.”
“We’re not going to lead with the investigations but we’re not going to look the other way,” he added.
5. Eric Swalwell’s Wife Brittany Recently Gave Birth to Their First Child
Swalwell married Brittany Ann Watts in October of 2016, The New York Times reported, describing her as a 32-year-old director of sales at the Ritz-Carlton resort in Half Moon Bay, California. She is a graduate of Miami University in Ohio. “The couple were introduced in September 2015 by mutual friends whom the groom had set up 12 years before,” The Times reported. Swalwell’s previous marriage ended in divorce.
In May of 2017, the couple had their first child, Nelson.