Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., abandoned his uphill run for president Monday and announced that he will instead seek a fifth term in the House.

As Swalwell quit the race, another Californian, Tom Steyer, who had earlier said he would not mount a 2020 presidential run, was preparing to announce that he has changed his mind.

The San Francisco billionaire, a former hedge fund chief, aims to enter the campaign for the Democratic nomination this week, according to a source close to Steyer. The liberal activist had traveled to Iowa in January to announce he was not running.

Billionaire investor and Democratic activist Tom Steyer, center, greets people in the audience at the conclusion of a “Need to Impeach” town hall event on March 13 in Agawam, Mass. Steyer claims that President Trump meets the criteria for impeachment. He is expected to announce his candidacy for president, according to reports. Associated Press/Steven Senne

Swalwell, of Dublin, in the San Francisco Bay Area, has languished for months near the bottom of the polls. The 38-year-old congressman had sought to cast himself as the candidate of a younger generation but was eclipsed by Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 37, of South Bend, Ind., and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, 46, of Texas.

After canceling a visit to New Hampshire — the first primary state — Swalwell scheduled a news conference Monday afternoon in his East Bay congressional district, where he announced his decision.

Swalwell’s departure from the race could be the first of many. The Democratic National Committee has set increasingly difficult criteria for candidates to qualify for upcoming debates, which could bar a large group of them from the stage in September. Those left out will inevitably find it harder to raise the money they need to sustain their campaigns.

Swalwell had sent mixed signals on his intention to run for reelection if his White House bid failed. In February, before announcing his candidacy, Swalwell told the San Francisco Chronicle he would “burn the boats” and not look back on his House seat.

“I would want people to know that I’m putting my all into this and I don’t have a life insurance policy,” he said. But more recently, Swalwell wavered in his vow to seek the presidency or bust.

The highest-profile moment of Swalwell’s run had been a widely mocked attempt in a June 27 debate to cast Democratic front-runner Joe Biden as too old.

Swalwell said the former vice president, 76, “was right when he said it was time to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans 32 years ago; he is still right today.”

“I’m still holding on to that torch,” Biden replied.

But even that moment was overshadowed by California Sen. Kamala Harris confronting Biden for opposing forced school busing for racial integration in the 1970s.

Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees, is a cable TV fixture known as a relentless critic of President Trump. The former Alameda County prosecutor often highlighted his support for strict gun control.

He also liked to call attention to his roots in rural Iowa, which casts the first ballots of Democrats’ presidential nominating process. Swalwell lived in Iowa until he was 5 years old.

In 2010, he was elected to the Dublin City Council. A few months after taking office, he launched an improbable campaign to oust fellow Democrat Pete Stark from Congress after 20 terms. Swalwell succeeded and was reelected three times.

Los Angeles Times staff writer Evan Halper in Washington contributed to this report.

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