Shopping for votes on Black Friday

At least one East Bay candidate turned Black Friday into a campaign opportunity.

Eric Swalwell, the Dublin city councilman and Alameda County deputy district attorney who’s challenging Rep. Pete Stark for the newly drawn 15th Congressional District, was pounding the pavement overnight, serving hot coffee to shivering shoppers who’d gone out hunting bargains in the wee hours. The Democrat tweeted his stops at a Toys R Us and a Best Buy in Dublin, at the Macy’s at the Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton, and at Hayward’s Southland Mall.

“Shoppers were surprised to see me but were eager to share their frustration of a broken, dysfunctional Washington, D.C.,” Swalwell said this afternoon. “It’s disappointing that Congressman Stark is not in his own district for Thanksgiving. I’m sure the Baltimore Sun has a story of him greeting shoppers at an Annapolis mall.”

That jab, of course, references past criticisms of Stark living most of the year at his Maryland home rather than here in the district. Stark couldn’t be reached Friday afternoon for comment.

“At the top of voters’ shopping list for 2012 is an upgrade in Congress,” Swalwell continued. “Even after the discounts are over, I pledge to be a candidate who will stand with the people of this district, listen to their concerns in person, and make their economic priorities my priorities.”

Swalwell, 31, has been waging an aggressive campaign including a listening tour of the district’s downtown areas – including Fremont, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton, Castro Valley and San Ramon – on weekends over the past two months.

Stark, 80, first was elected to Congress in 1972; he’s the fifth most senior House member and dean of the California delegation, and announced his candidacy for a 21st term in August.

Swalwell is counting on several factors to help him topple this mega-incumbent.

Polls show Californians have record-low opinions of Congress, Swalwell sees Stark as vulnerable as he shifts from his old 13th District to this new one, losing 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, with all candidates competing on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, advancing to the general election. Given the district’s Democratic registration edge, and the absence of any declared Republican candidates so far, it’s not beyond the pale to imagine a Stark-vs.-Swalwell faceoff come next November.

But Stark has almost 40 years of name recognition, the bully pulpit of incumbency and a well-honed fundraising network; his campaign had $544,460 cash on hand as of Sept. 30, while Swalwell’s had $69,526.

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.

  • Elwood

    Stark has been occupying Congress for 38 years. Longer than most of his constituents have been alive.

    He is a resident of Maryland.

    How long, O Lord, how long?

  • Truthclubber

    Hey, Josh —

    How much did Mary Hughes pay you to plug this “earned media” spot for her client, Eric?

  • Elwood

    This Mary Hughes? The former executive director of the CA dimmiecrat party?

    She looks pretty mainstream dimmiecrat to me. Why wouldn’t she be supporting good old Pete, the 38 year incumbent who live in Maryland?

  • Josh Richman

    Re #2: Getting paranoid, Truthclubber? I saw Swalwell’s tweets this morning, and then contacted him to get a statement. Do you assume graft whenever you see anyone write about any candidate in any race?

  • Truthclubber

    Re: #4 — I think I’m hitting close to the core of this, given the reaction so far — “Joshie” could have merely said “Mary who”? but chose the CYA of “I saw what Mary sent my way (via “indirect broadcast ‘tweet’ as she made sure I would be on the list to get”) and then did what I was told — contact her candidate to get the MOTD and pass it on as if it was really news.

  • Truthclubber

    Re #4: “…whenever you see anyone write about any candidate in any race?”

    What a f**king joke and complete tool (of Hughes) you show yourself to be when you try (and fail) to hind behind statements like that…

    Here’s an example that proves your complete and biased idiocy with regard to your earlier defense — since I completely support what is said by no less than Eugene Robinson in this particular “writing about a (particulate) candidate in a (particulate) race”:


    Tell Mary that this electoral kimono has been ripped off — and we all know that she is behind this latest sham of an election challenge (having failed to get Joan Buchanan into Congress as Tauscher’s replacement back in 2009)…

    Love and kisses,


  • Elwood

    @ toothsucker #5 & 6

    You are a lunatic.