Jim Webb drops out as Democrat, might still run as independent

Greg Nash

Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb said Tuesday he is dropping out of the Democratic presidential race but signaled he will consider running as an independent.

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“I’m withdrawing from any consideration of being the Democratic Party’s nominee for the presidency. This does not reduce in any way my concerns of the challenges facing the country, my belief that I can provide the best leadership in order to meet these challenges, or my intentions to remain fully engaged in the debates that are facing us," he said Tuesday afternoon at a press conference in Washington.

"We'll have to just see what happens next," he said. "We intend to spend the next couple of weeks talking to people" about an independent run.

While he said that he's thinking through his options and didn't outright launch an independent bid, told reporters that he doesn't believe he'd endorse any candidates or join up with a super-PAC as another way to stay involved in the presidential race. 

Webb said his decision stems more from the fact that his views on many issues don’t jibe with that of the party's.

“How I remain as the voice will depend on what kind of support I'm shown in the coming weeks as I meet with people from all sides of America’s political landscape,” he said.

“Our political process is jammed up, it needs an honest broker who understands both sides.”

Third-party candidates rarely garner significant support, and independent bids are extremely expensive because of the need to organize efforts to ensure ballot access across the country.

Webb told reporters that while he's familiar with the struggles of previous independent presidential candidates, many "very smart political people" have told him that "because of the paralysis in our two parties, there is a time where an independent candidacy  could conceivably win."

His departure leaves two other low-polling candidates in a race dominated by former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonRNC strategizes against Clinton VP contenders Analysis: Trump, Clinton plans not in line with balancing national debt Clinton: 'American people deserve better' than gun control stalemate MORE, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersRNC strategizes against Clinton VP contenders Dems celebrate anniversary of gay marriage ruling Sanders points to disconnect between 'mainstream media' and public MORE (I-Vt.) and a the potential candidacy of Vice President Biden.

Those two candidates are former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who has not actively campaigned but was included in last week's initial Democratic debate, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. 

Webb leaves the race with 1.3 percent support in a RealClearPolitics average of recent nationwide polls, slightly more than twice what O'Malley has. In the states with early nominating contests, O'Malley has been either slightly ahead of or tied with Webb but still well behind the top-tier candidates.

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