Former sheriff Plummer endorses Pete Stark’s foe

Eric Swalwell, the Alameda County prosecutor and Dublin councilman taking on Rep. Pete Stark in the newly drawn 15th Congressional District in 2012, rolled out law enforcement endorsements today including that of longtime Alameda County Sheriff Charlie Plummer.

“I’m supporting Eric because he has the character we need in our next Congressman,” the 81-year-old retired lawman said in Swalwell’s news release. “In the courtroom, as a prosecutor, Eric is known for being tough, fair, and always acting with integrity.”

It’s interesting to see Plummer, a contemporary of the 79-year-old Stark, D-Fremont, endorsing Stark’s 30-year-old Democratic opponent. Anyone who knows Plummer knows his penchant for (ahem) colorful rhetoric, so I figured I’d call him up for more details.

“I’ve known Pete Stark forever, we used to go to the same haircutter a long time ago, but I can’t think of anything worthwhile Pete Stark has ever done. He should follow my advice and know when it’s time to quit, and I think he should quit now,” said Plummer, of Hayward, who rose through the Berkeley Police ranks and was Hayward’s police chief before serving as the county’s sheriff from 1987 to 2007. “He’s not a young man. The reason I retired is I couldn’t jump over fences any more. You have to know when to step back… it doesn’t mean I’m mad at him, it just means I think it’s time to change.”

Stark couldn’t immediately be reached for comment this afternoon.

As for Swalwell, Plummer said, “I think he’s a comer, I really do, otherwise I wouldn’t lend my name to him, not that my name means that much. For the times that we’re in right now, I think he’s the one to put there.”

Plummer’s current voter registration shows he declines to state a party affiliation, but he was a fixture in East Bay politics for decades. His past endorsements have gone both to Democrats – such as state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, and then Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown for state attorney general in 2006 – and Republicans – such as former Assemblywoman Lynne Leach, R-Walnut Creek, and 2008 Assembly candidate Abram Wilson. Campaign finance records show he contributed $300 in 2006 to Stark’s Republican challenger, George Bruno, after having made several small donations to the Republican National Committee in the 1990s.

Stark announced his candicacy for re-election to a 21st term in Congress in August. The Congressional Record shows Stark sang Plummer’s praises on the House floor in February 2000, October 2002 and January 2007. In the latter remarks, Stark said Plummer “has never minced words nor failed to step up to the plate to take responsibility for activities or implementation of programs for the safety and welfare of residents in Alameda County. He leaves a legacy of commitment, straight-talk and no-nonsense service.”

Plummer today said that was “all appreciated, but as you know, nobody’s there when they do that kind of thing, it doesn’t mean a hell of a lot.”

Swalwell is touting his work as an Alameda County deputy district attorney, as which he says he has prosecuted more than 1,000 cases and 32 jury trials. Other endorsements he announced today include Alameda County District Attorney Chief of Inspectors Brad Kearns, Union City Police Chief Greg Stewart, retired Pleasanton Police Chief Tim Neal, the Deputy Sheriffs’ Association of Alameda County, the Livermore Police Officers Association, the Pleasanton Police Officers Association and the Union City Police Officers Association.

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.

  • David

    Mr. Swalwell is proud of that endorsement? Is Mr. Swalwell aware of Charlie Plummer’s involvement in police brutality at People’s Park in the 1960s? From the Mercury News in 2007: “I wish I would have hit some people harder during the riots,” said Plummer, speaking of riots in Berkeley in the late 1960s. “I regret that.”

    I’d like to hear if Eric Swalwell supports that “hit some people harder” mentality.

    Source: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_5017490?nclick_check=1

  • Publius

    Much adoo about nothing. Swalwell is just another Democrat that will kiss the rear of organized labor and bow down to the left wing fringe of that corrupt party. He will march in lock step with the others and nothing will change.

    “Meet the new boss….Same as the old boss.”

  • Grant

    Shows that Swalwell can play on Stark’s turf…mainly, the Hayward area and senior voters.