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What to know about Eric Swalwell, the presidential candidate you know nothing about

The four-term congressman from the San Francisco Bay Area makes 18 Dems in the race

by Rex Santus
Apr 9 2019, 7:21pm

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If 17 Democratic presidential candidates isn’t enough choice for you, here’s another: Eric Swalwell.

The four-term congressman from the San Francisco Bay Area announced he’s running on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” Monday night.

“Boy, did it feel good to say that,” Swalwell said.

That makes him the second California congressperson and former Bay Area prosecutor in the race, after Kamala Harris, the third-youngest 2020 candidate so far (he’s 38), and the only candidate named Eric. (Sorry, it’s getting a little more difficult to differentiate them.)

Here’s what you need to know about the latest Democrat to enter the 2020 primaries.

His main issue is gun control

Swalwell says his main issue in the 2020 primaries will be gun control, which he hopes will differentiate him from the ever-growing list of blue candidates. Swalwell’s most noteworthy legislative accomplishment is introducing (and re-introducing in February) a bill that seeks to curb domestic violence from guns.

He wants to ban military-style semi-automatic assault weapons during his first 100 days in office, and he plans to implement a buyback program for assault weapons. The programs, however, would exempt law enforcement and gun clubs.

"I’m telling folks, keep your rifles, keep your shotguns, keep your pistols, we just want the most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the most dangerous people," Swalwell told ABC News Tuesday morning. "Most gun owners believe that."

Other stances

Swalwell’s other big issue will be affordable education. He believes there should be no interest on federal student loans and that public college students should get tuition funding by participating in work-study programs. (This is a relatively moderate affordable-college proposal compared to that of Sen. Bernie Sanders, for example, which is tuition-free public college.)

Swalwell backs Medicare for All, which would provide insurance to every U.S. citizen and, under current legislative proposals, would abolish the private-insurance industry.

Swalwell also backs the Green New Deal, which would overhaul the U.S. economy to divest from fossil fuels and other pollutants and pour resources into green jobs and infrastructure.

"Most Americans agree that to address climate chaos, to make sure your house doesn't end up underwater or on fire, we should do something about it but make sure we're not pitting workers against their job," Swalwell said in his campaign announcement video.

Just who is this guy?

Swalwell doesn’t have the name recognition of the Elizabeth Warrens, Beto O’Rourkes, Bernie Sanderses, and Kamala Harrises of the race, but he has been a member of the House since 2013. He currently sits on the House Intelligence Committee and regularly appears on MSNBC shows speaking on aspects of the Mueller investigation and related congressional probes.

He’s a bit of a congressional oddball. For example, he was the only sitting Democrat to support Martin O’Malley’s 2016 bid for the presidency.

Swalwell is married and has two children. He's an Iowa native, and his parents are apparently Republicans, which Colbert noted on his show during Swalwell’s announcement. Colbert called Swalwell’s mom on the air and asked if she’d be voting for her son.

“As long as none of his other brothers are running against him,” she said.

Cover: Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., speaks at a Politics & Eggs event, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)