The former U.S. Senator from Virginia pulled the plug, at least for now, at a Tuesday news conference in which said the two major parties have moved so far to the extremes that there’s no path forward for a centrist like him.
Webb clearly had been struggling. He had the support of only about 1.3 percent of Democratic voters, according to an average of recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics – ahead of Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee, but nowhere close to Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, the latter of whom still hasn’t even decided whether to run. Most people who watched last week’s Democratic debate remembered Webb mainly for complaining he wasn’t given enough time to speak, if they remembered him at all. And the Federal Election Commission report that Webb’s campaign filed last week shows it raised a total of $696,972 and spent $370,942, and had $316,765 cash on hand as of Sept. 30.
Michael Dearing of Woodside, an angel investor and business development instructor, gave $5,600 to Webb’s campaign in August, and was disappointed by Tuesday’s news.
“He’s a patriot and he had ideas that could’ve appealed to both parties. Unfortunately, I think he found neither party was open to those ideas,” said Dearing, 47, an independent voter who has contributed to other Democrats such as U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and President Barack Obama as well as Republicans including U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kent., and former Rep. Tom Campbell, R-Campbell.
Webb “had the courage to speak up to Secretary Clinton when no one else in that party would,” Dearing said, adding he would be interested in an independent Webb candidacy. “I would be interested in hearing from anybody who is a great patriot, a great leader and has sound ideas on all the problems that face the country. Sadly, we have a shortage of such people in the race.”
George Butcher, a business regulatory and quality consultant from Livermore, contributed $1,100 to Webb’s campaign this year and said he “would support Jim Webb under any circumstance” including an independent candidacy, though he’s “sorry to see him drop out of the Democratic race – I thought he had a good chance.”
Butcher, 67, a Democrat, said Webb’s appeal is “his overall stance, the way that he tries to rise above the two parties and to put the best interests of the country first. … He’s partisan to the needs of the country.”
Rosanna Falabella, a retired polymer materials scientist from Hayward, contributed about $1,000 to Webb’s campaign. She said she’s in the “anybody but Hillary” wing of the Democratic party, objecting to what she sees as a coronation of Clinton and marginalization of other candidates.
“I was looking for somebody who seemed to have their head screwed on straight,” said Falabella, 62, and Webb fit the bill. “I like the fact that he’s a veteran and very much skeptical about what our foreign policy is doing, both to our country and to other countries that we’re declaring war on. … He’s someone who might keep us out of these foreign adventures.”
Asked if she would consider backing Webb as an independent candidate, she replied, “Absolutely.”