Jim Webb’s Non-Campaign Is Finally Over

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

Andrew Harnik/AP

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


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.

GREAT JOURNALISM, SLOW FUNDRAISING

Our team has been on fire lately—publishing sweeping, one-of-a-kind investigations, ambitious, groundbreaking projects, and even releasing “the holy shit documentary of the year.” And that’s on top of protecting free and fair elections and standing up to bullies and BS when others in the media don’t.

Yet, we just came up pretty short on our first big fundraising campaign since Mother Jones and the Center for Investigative Reporting joined forces.

So, two things:

1) If you value the journalism we do but haven’t pitched in over the last few months, please consider doing so now—we urgently need a lot of help to make up for lost ground.

2) If you’re not ready to donate but you’re interested enough in our work to be reading this, please consider signing up for our free Mother Jones Daily newsletter to get to know us and our reporting better. Maybe once you do, you’ll see it’s something worth supporting.

payment methods

GREAT JOURNALISM, SLOW FUNDRAISING

Our team has been on fire lately—publishing sweeping, one-of-a-kind investigations, ambitious, groundbreaking projects, and even releasing “the holy shit documentary of the year.” And that’s on top of protecting free and fair elections and standing up to bullies and BS when others in the media don’t.

Yet, we just came up pretty short on our first big fundraising campaign since Mother Jones and the Center for Investigative Reporting joined forces.

So, two things:

1) If you value the journalism we do but haven’t pitched in over the last few months, please consider doing so now—we urgently need a lot of help to make up for lost ground.

2) If you’re not ready to donate but you’re interested enough in our work to be reading this, please consider signing up for our free Mother Jones Daily newsletter to get to know us and our reporting better. Maybe once you do, you’ll see it’s something worth supporting.

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