How will Eric Swalwell raise money in crowded Democratic field?

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Rep. Eric Swalwell (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On April 8, Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a four-term congressman, became one of eight current or former House members in the 2020 Democratic primary. Swalwell’s decision came after months of publicly mulling the decision and included several visits to Iowa and New Hampshire.

Swalwell gained some national attention as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Judiciary Committee. Because of his position on those committees, Swalwell has made hundreds of TV appearances criticizing President Donald Trump, making him a familiar face to those following the various investigations into the president.

In his announcement on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Swalwell said his primary campaign issue will be combating gun violence. A video on his campaign website highlighted his Iowa roots, the fact he has first in his family to go to college and the message “Go big. Be bold. Do good.” Joining the rest of the Democratic field, Swalwell says he won’t accept corporate PAC money.

Swalwell has a rather average fundraising background compared to some of his current opponents, raking in more than $3 million for his 2018 reelection in a race where he got over 70 percent of the vote. He saved roughly $1.7 million to use for his presidential run.

In a primary race dominated by small-dollar donor champions like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), Swalwell doesn’t tap into those donors all that much, likely due to the fact he represents a safe district. Small donors tend to give to candidates in competitive races. In the 2018 cycle, just 7 percent of his funds ($222,673) came from contributions under $200. The vast majority, nearly 60 percent (more than $1.8 million), were from large individual contributions.

With essentially all major Democratic candidates swearing off corporate PAC contributions, Swalwell has received a significant amount from business PACs over the years. Throughout his career dating back to the 2012 cycle, Swalwell collected almost $2.7 million from PACs, with a majority of that ($1.9 million), coming from business PACs.  

Individuals from Mackenzie Capital Management, a real estate investment management business, combine to make up his biggest all-time contributor with $52,000 in contributions. Other major contributors include Calpine Corporation, a natural gas-powered energy company, PG&E Corporation, an electric utility company and Intel — all of whom gave $20,000 or more from the companies’ PACs.

Swalwell has another source of funds in his leadership PAC, New Energy PAC, which raised $254,430 in the 2018 cycle. Like most leadership PACs, New Energy received a number of contributions from businesses including PG&E, New York Life Insurance and Northrop Grumman.

New Energy handed out just $45,924 all to fellow House candidates in 2018. Tellingly, all four Democratic House candidates in Iowa received contributions from the PAC. The Democratic Party of Iowa also got a $1,000 contribution.

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