Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb speaks at an event at the public library in Council Bluffs, Iowa, April 9, 2015. 
Photo by Nati Harnik/AP

Democratic field shrinks as Jim Webb departs

Updated
It’s never been altogether clear why former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) was running for president, and as it turns out, as of this afternoon, he’s not.
Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb plans to announce on Tuesday that he will drop out of the Democratic presidential race in favor of a potential independent presidential run, a source familiar with his thinking confirmed to MSNBC.
 
Citing frustration with Party leadership and what he sees as a corrupt political class, Webb will announce at the National Press Club this afternoon that he is withdrawing from any consideration of being the Democratic Party’s nominee.
Webb issued a press release yesterday afternoon indicating that he’s “considering” an independent campaign, but as MSNBC’s report added, the former senator is not expected to declare an independent candidacy today, planning instead to take some time to consider his options.
 
Ordinarily when a candidate exits a presidential race, there’s speculation about where his or her supporters will go, but in this case, Webb has struggled to generate much interest in his bid for national office. Polling averages point to his national support among Democratic voters at roughly 1%, matched by anemic fundraising.
 
Indeed, it’s difficult to say Webb will end his campaign for the White House when it’s not altogether clear the campaign ever actually began in earnest.
 
Just two weeks ago, Mother Jones launched an “investigation” into whether Webb was “really running” for president, and the magazine turned up very little evidence that the Virginian was an active candidate.
 
Last week’s debate, however, appeared to set Webb over the edge. The former senator was invited to participate, despite his lack of effort as a proper national candidate, but when Webb received few questions, he devoted his time to complaining about his lack of time. He spent the next several days focusing his campaign message on his belief that the debate was “rigged” to give competitive candidates more time than non-competitive candidates.
 
Stepping back, it’s hard not to get the impression that Webb, a decorated war hero, just doesn’t like politics very much. He was routinely miserable in the Senate and retired after one term. Even when he launched his presidential campaign, there was no real kickoff – Webb instead told everyone he was running by way of a lengthy, poorly formatted blog post, published on the eve of a holiday weekend.
 
Webb may yet launch an independent campaign – it became increasingly obvious that he was out of step with the Democratic mainstream – but such an endeavor would require a great deal of money and a tenacity for grassroots political work.
 
Webb appears to lack both.
 
 

Jim Webb

Democratic field shrinks as Jim Webb departs

Updated