Pete Stark’s challenger launches ‘listening tour’

Eric Swalwell, a Democrat who announced Wednesday that he’s taking on longtime incumbent Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, in the newly drawn 15th Congressional District, isn’t letting any grass grow under his feet.

The 30-year-old Alameda County prosecutor and Dublin City Council member is kicking off a “Downtown Listening Tour” of cities in the new district with a visit to Livermore tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 24. He’ll be at the fountain at First Street and South Livermore Avenue at noon, and then at the First Street Alehouse, 2106 First St., at 1 p.m.

His campaign says he’ll “talk with residents and small business owners about issues related to the economy, job creation, and hear their thoughts on how Congress can do better in Washington, DC.”

Stark, 79, first was elected to Congress in 1972; he’s the fifth most senior House member and dean of the California delegation. He announced his candidacy for a 21st term Aug. 2, saying he looks forward to continuing to serve old constituents while gaining new ones. He held town hall meetings last weekend in Union City and Hayward.

Polls show Californians have record low opinions of Congress, and the new district is vastly different from Stark’s existing 13th District. The new district boundaries lose much of Fremont and all of Alameda while adding Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, San Ramon and Castro Valley. Also, June’s primary will be the first regular election using the “top two” system, in which candidates of all parties compete on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Calling Starkers the “dean” of the Calif. House delegation is misleading. It is more fitting to call him the senior inmate of the asylum.

  • Keith J.

    Maybe this Swalwell isn’t as “independent” as he claims to be. He openly boasts of working for Ellen Tauscher in Washington, D.C. in 2001-2002. Does he support Ellen Tauscher’s “Cheerleader for Wall Street” policies that led to the Great Recession? Swalwell was working for Tauscher in the lead-up to the Iraq War. What did Swalwell do as a congressional staff member to help Tauscher “sell” the Iraq War to the people of the Tri-Valley? Tauscher was among the most two-faced politicians ever in the Tri-Valley. In 1998, she joined Republicans to open the impeachment inquiry against President Clinton yet now owes her State Dept. post solely to the fact that she is a “Friend of Hillary.” Tauscher and the Clintons sold out the middle class by kowtowing to Wall Street, Chinese industrial interests and war profiteers. Democrats should be concerned that Swalwell is nothing more than a “Republican Lite” like Tauscher who will aid and abet Republicans in destroying our country. Pete Stark may be imperfect, but at least he was courageous in opposing the Iraq War debacle and we know where he stands on most issues.

  • DanvilleDemocrat

    Keith, Eric Swalwell was an intern for Ellen Tauscher — a job he likely got in no small part because he was a constituent attending college in the D.C. area. No doubt Eric Swalwell will run to the right of Pete Stark (almost impossible not to do so) but find something more substantive to criticize than a throw-away mention in his C.V.

  • David

    A friend of mine showed up at First Street shortly after noon and walked from the fountain to the Ale House, but reported that Eric Swalwell was nowhere to be found.

  • Walter, Livermore

    On Saturday I went down to the fountain(s) at First Street but saw no sign of Mr. Swalwell. I arrived there just before 12:30pm. I stuck around for about 10-minutes before heading over to the Ale House. I waited around until after 1:00pm. Never saw him there either.

    I was disappointed because I reside in the 15th Congressional District. Although I tend to disagree with Pete Stark more often than not, there are a few very important issues that we DO agree on.

    I wanted to see how Swalwell stacked up against Stark on these important issues. Maybe he’ll give an answer here on Political Blotter?

    1.) War: Will Swalwell vote in-favor of funding our interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East?

    2.) Audit the Fed: Does Swalwell believe that the Federal Reserve should be audited?

    3.) Bailouts: Does Swalwell believe the federal government should be in the business of bailing-out private companies/corps/banks/other countries?

    4.) MJ: Pete Stark co-sponsored the Paul/Frank bill that would have ended federal prohibition of MJ and returned authority to the states. Would Swalwell co-sponsor such a bill? Would he draft and introduce one of his own if elected?

    Beyond that, I was also openly carrying my firearm at the time I went to the Swalwell meet-and-greet. I was looking forward to gauging his reaction considering the fact that he is a Dep. DA. Does Swalwell support the individual, fundamental and constitutionally recognized right to openly bear firearms in public without a government approved permission slip to do so?

  • Keith J.

    Walter, there’s so much that we don’t know about Mr. Swalwell. He deserves a chance to explain what he wants to do if he were elected to Congress. His challenge to Congressman Stark is a good thing. That’s what our republican form of government is all about: Should candidate X represent us in Washington, D.C.? Mr. Stark has gotten a “free pass” for far too many years. We need a good to debate to sharpen all of our thinking, candidates and citizens alike.

    Danville Democrat, I am not criticizing some “throw-away mention in (Swalwell’s) C.V.” when I refer to his work for Tauscher and her “Republican lite/Let’s Have War With Iraq!” policies. His own campaign website says that he was “assisting with legislative research,” for Tauscher, etc. My point is that his experience is rather thin.

    Plus we deserve to know what he thought about Tauscher’s policies, especially the Iraq War that Mr. Swalwell indirectly helped to promote when he worked for Tauscher. I haven’t the slightest idea what Mr. Swalwell stands for. Has he made his political opinions known over the years? Or is he one of those strategic “young pols” who has hidden his beliefs in order to “protect his political viability” (or whatever garbage Bill Clinton wrote during his draft dodging days)? For heaven’s sake, Mr. Swalwell has been an elected official for a mere 10 months or so. The Tri-Valley has already experienced a 30-something who vaulted from a couple of years on a city council directly into the halls of Congress. His name was Richard Pombo. That didn’t work out too well for his constituents.

    Walter, you’re right on track about the types of questions that Mr. Swalwell must answer. Maybe his “listening tour” was all show for the press releases backed by no follow-through.

  • John W

    Swalwell should be put through the ringer and vetted just like any other candidate. Still, given an acceptable Democratic alternative, I can’t imagine voting for Stark. We may know little about Swalwell now, but we know plenty about Stark. If Swalwell positions himself as a moderate and can back that up, he would be my kind of Democrat.