Jim Webb announced earlier today that he was dropping out of the race for the Democratic nomination for president. Webb’s campaign wasn’t successful at fundraising, he remained largely unknown to most Democratic voters, and with Sanders’ success in winning almost all of the anti-Clinton vote there was even less of an opening for a protest candidacy than there might have been. I thought he would be able to gain some traction by challenging Clinton on her foreign policy record and touting his own better judgment on Iraq and Libya, but that didn’t happen. His opposition to the nuclear deal made that even more difficult as he ended up being more of a hawk on Iran than the reflexively hawkish Clinton. Last year, I wrongly assumed that Webb wouldn’t run because it was never likely to go well, and unfortunately I was right about the second part. I give Webb credit for making the effort, but under the circumstances he was right to end his campaign for the Democratic nomination sooner rather than later.
As the first debate showed, Webb remains an awkward fit with the Democratic Party on several issues. His skepticism of military intervention likewise puts him at odds with the GOP, and of course it was primarily his opposition to the Iraq war that caused him to leave the Republicans a decade ago. Because he doesn’t fit very well in either party, Webb is considering running as an independent, but I have to say that I hope he doesn’t do that. As today’s press conference reminded us, Webb visibly dislikes the requirements of a political campaign, and I can’t imagine why he would want to go through the even more difficult process of building an independent campaign from scratch. In theory, a Webb candidacy might draw dissatisfied voters from both parties, but in practice there is little chance that an independent campaign will receive much support nationally.