Stark’s challenger steps up the campaign pace

Gotta say this for Eric Swalwell, the Dublin councilman taking on fellow Democrat and longtime incumbent Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, in 2012: He’s managing to get his message out.

Stark, 80, may have the advantages of better campaign funding and the bully pulpit of incumbency, but Swalwell, 31, is proving tenacious both locally and nationally. For example, the University of Maryland grad scored some complimentary ink in the Washington Post’s local section yesterday.

And he’s continuing to be creative in how he canvasses the newly drawn 15th Congressional District. He already did a “listening tour” of all of the district’s downtowns, and he went out and served coffee all night to Black Friday holiday shoppers. Now he’s kicking off a new campaign initiative – running, and I don’t just mean “running for office.” He and campaign volunteers going to participate in six local runs over the next six months, starting New Year’s Day with a 5k at the Lake Chabot Marina in Castro Valley – a none-to-subtle way of juxtaposing his youth with Stark’s, er, elder statesmanship.

But this is still going to be a very, very tough race for Swalwell, as it would be for anyone taking on a 40-year incumbent. Swalwell raised about $75,000 in the third quarter of this year, his debut; he told the Post this week that he’s raised about $100,000 so far, which means his fourth-quarter fundraising might’ve stalled. Stark, meanwhile, had about $544,000 in the bank as of Sept. 30.

And there’s a lot going on in the backfield, as former Obama Administration official Ro Khanna of Fremont has been raising tremendous money in this fourth quarter (though he swears he won’t run against Stark, and is merely building a nest egg for when Stark retires – more on him very soon). Khanna’s massive fundraising for 2014 could help explain why Ellen Corbett reportedly is considering running in 2012 rather than first finishing out her state Senate term, as she told me she would two months ago.

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.

  • Rick K.

    Isn’t this what “elections” are supposed to be about? A choice instead of a re-coronation? Politicians forced to interact with common citizens? Oh, the horror! By this time next year, many incumbent congressmen in both parties could be gone: Stark, “Live Shot” Garamendi, Lungren, Denham, etc. Although Pelosi won’t lose, her role in that VISA initial public offering/”insider trading” fracas could force her to step down as Democratic leader.

  • rew

    I don’t quite understand Stark’s running for one more term. He’s 80, Democrats are in the minority, they are expected to stay in the minority in the next cycle of elections, seems like a good time for Stark to retire. Normally you don’t want to kick out a senior member like Stark – the longer you are in Congress the more clout you have, which is good for the district. But now that he has announced this is his final term he is a “lame duck”, everybody will ignore him in DC now, they know he won’t be around much longer. Is this good for the district? Does this district really need a lame duck Congressman? The more you think about it, the more sense it makes to vote for this plucky challenger Eric Swallwell. In fact, he looks like a terrific candidate.

  • Diann

    Stark has not only killed any ability he might have to help the district by announcing this will be his last term, he’s spent so much time living in DC, he has no idea what’s going on in his own district.

    Swalwell is energetic, LIVES HERE, and cares deeply about his constituents. I admire his courage in running against an entrenched incumbent like Stark. Under normal circumstances, it would be insanity but Eric Swalwell seems like the kind of people we need in Congress.

  • John W

    Time to go, Pete. The House is a miserable place for a veteran member if your party is in the minority. Unlike the minority in the Senate, you have no influence in anything. So, what’s the point in a geezer sticking around? A new face, on the other hand, can make good use of the time in the wilderness to get up to speed, do good constituent service etc.

  • Elwood

    “do good constituent service”

    I’m sure this must be very difficult for an 80 year old resident of Maryland.

  • Oleg Kipnis

    Since our congres people age is pushing to 70 (and older) Feinstein-78,Stark-80,Pelosi-71,Woolsey-74,
    Honda-70 and so on(see article in San Jose Mercury News 01-08-12) what can we expect from those people in this age.
    Let’s return USA back and make term limits.
    Go to http://www.ustl.org/ and send petition.

    Oleg Kipnis