Jim Webb’s Non-Campaign Is Finally Over

Webb announces he’s not running for president as an independent.

Andrew Harnik/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Jim Webb’s presidential campaign officially ended on Tuesday in the same way it started: quietly. At an untelevised speech at the World Affairs Council in Dallas, Webb said that running for president as an independent, an option he’d been considering for several months, wasn’t feasible.

“Theoretically it could be done, but it is enormously costly and time sensitive, and I don’t see the fundraising trajectory where we could make a realistic run,” Webb said, according to prepared remarks given to Bloomberg News.

Webb, a former Democratic senator from Virginia who was a Vietnam War hero as a Marine, briefly ran a longshot are-you-sure-it’s-a-campaign campaign for the Democratic nomination last year. He made only a handful of appearances in Iowa and New Hampshire and attended one Democratic debate, where he received attention mainly for aggressively complaining about his limited airtime. Webb’s populist stances and calls to bring white working-class voters back into the Democratic fold got little traction from primary voters and even less promotion from his small campaign organization.

When Webb dropped out of the Democratic race in October, he said he was considering an independent run. Without a party label, he said, he could attract both Republicans and Democrats and win out over Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. “If we ran an independent race that worked and got traction, I honestly could see us beating both of them,” he said at the press conference announcing the end of his Democratic bid.

But after that announcement, Webb went mostly radio-silent again. Last month his campaign hired Sam Jones, the former finance director of the Draft Biden effort, to figure out how to fund an independent run. (Webb supports campaign finance reform and does not have a super-PAC.) Otherwise, he did little to stay in the news or make the case for his potential candidacy, sticking to social media posts along with sporadic interviews and op-eds. There was no indication for months about whether he had made up his mind to run, and when news broke on Wednesday that Webb would announce his decision, campaign spokesman Craig Crawford said—not for the first time during this election cycle—that he didn’t know what his boss intended to do.

Webb would have faced a steep uphill battle had he announced a run. In addition to ramping up a huge funding effort, Webb would have had to collect nearly 1 million signatures across the country to make it onto every state ballot, starting with Texas’ requirement for 89,000 signatures by May 9. For a campaign with paid staff in the single digits, it would have been an almost impossible task.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate