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Pete Stark & Eric Swalwell face off in Dublin

By Josh Richman
Monday, February 20th, 2012 at 10:28 pm in 2012 Congressional Election, Pete Stark, U.S. House.

Rhetorical sparks flew tonight as Rep. Pete Stark crossed paths for the first time on the campaign trail with his Democratic challenger, Dublin councilman and Alameda County prosecutor Eric Swalwell.

The Tri Valley Democratic Club’s candidates’ night drew a capacity crowd of about 200 people to the IBEW hall in Dublin, with most there to see the 15th Congressional District faceoff between Stark, 80, and Swalwell, 31. Though the two candidates have a lot in common on the issues, there were elbows thrown aplenty.

Swalwell won the straw poll at the end of the evening, 32-19 – unsurprising given that this is his home club, in which he’s been active for years. The outcome was foretold by the much louder applause and cheering he got compared to Stark’s earlier in the evening.

Stark, D-Fremont, had won the coin toss, but chose to have Swalwell go first. Swalwell led off by touting his local roots and said he has worked on behalf of working families and small businesses as a Dublin city councilman, but quickly turned the lens toward his opponent.

“We need new energy and new ideas, we need someone who is going to step up and lead,” he said, noting Stark has been in the House for nearly 40 years. “I respect that, but 40 years is a long time and if you do not stay sharp, you can become out of step, out of touch and out of sight.”

That’s the case with Stark, he said, who lives in Maryland and doesn’t visit often; he also said Stark blocked all media from one of his town hall meetings last weekend. (Actually, Stark holds a series of three such town-hall meetings just about every month, and barred a television camera from last weekend’s event, not all reporters.)

Asked by an audience member how he intends to stay in touch with this community if elected and sent to Washington, Swalwell replied, “I’m not going to live there.”

Stark’s fiery and sometimes controversial rhetoric has rendered him ineffective, Swalwell accused, as evidenced a few years ago when the chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee came open and Stark was the most senior Democrat. “Our party’s leaders had to step in when Congressman Stark was slated to become the chairman of one of the most powerful committees in Congress.”

And Stark missed more than one in five votes in the last session, he said. “If Congressman Stark does not live here and he is not voting in Washington, D.C., it begs the question where is he, what is he doing and how can he help us in these tough economic times?”

“I imagine that Congressman Stark and I will agree on many issues,” Swalwell said, both of them being Democrats. It’s not about who moves the district to the left or the right, he said, but about who can move it forward.

Stark, in rebuttal, said “the Stark family has been here well over 40 years doing things for this community,” and he has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Democratic party and the often-needy people it’s supposed to represent.

In response to Swalwell’s barb about his residency, he said, “It would be just about impossible until we have some kind of rockets… to represent you in Congress and not live in the Washington, D.C. area.” He said that he’s here in the district every other weekend, and that he missed some votes due to his hospitalization for pneumonia, but also needs to consider the needs of his 16-year-old son and 10-year-old twins.

Stark likened the situation to deciding whom you’d choose to do your heart surgery: a student fresh out of medical school or a seasoned surgeon with many operations under his belt. “Only in politics have I heard that having no experience is better than having some experience.”

During the Q&A, Sergio Santos – a United Auto Workers local president from the former NUMMI plant in Fremont – said Stark has been anything but out of touch with auto workers, to whom he gave great support following the plant’s closing. They will support him now, he said.

Alameda County Democratic Central Committee Chairwoman Robin Torello noted Stark has the party’s endorsement as well, and that Stark has been a champion of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Stark said Republicans are putting those programs at risk, and trying to undo President Obama’s health care reforms.

“Their policy is to not see the president succeed at anything,” Stark said. “It’s pure politics.”

Democrats, meanwhile, are concerned with helping those unable to help themselves, he said.

Swalwell went to the front of the room to shake Stark’s hand when both were done.

Club President Ellis Goldberg said it was the most crowded meeting he could recall. Amid that sea of Democrats was indepdendent 15th District candidate Chris Pareja, 39, of Hayward, a Tea Party conservative.

“Eric came off as much more aggressive than the typical Pete,” Pareja obersved afterward, adding he thinks district voters want to hear less about age and residence and more debate on issues such as fiscal policy and overencroachment of government on private rights. He said both Stark and Swalwell appeared willing to engage in a three-way debate with him sometime soon.

The evening’s undercard included speeches from Democratic incumbents without Democratic challengers this primary season: state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo; and Alameda County Supervisors Scott Haggerty and Nate Miley. County supervisorial seats are nonpartisan, but Miley is a lifelong Democrat while Haggerty switched from Republican to Democrat in 2009.

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  • John W.

    I attended this as a San Ramonite shifted from McNerney’s old district to the new 15th. My bias was very much anti-Stark for all the reasons often cited. However, that didn’t make me pro-Swalwell. The face-off completely changed my mind. If Stark and Swalwell are the only Dem candidates, and the only thing I have to go on is what I saw Monday night, I’ll vote for Stark as a bridge to 2014 and a new face at that time. Swalwell was Swawful. His overly-rehearsed, overly loud speech, right down to the non-verbal commas and the carefully planned timing for removal of his suit jacket, was full of platitudes and not anything else, other than his over-the-top attacks on Stark. It reeked of empty-suitedness. He seems to have attended the same charm school as Mitt Romney. Stark, whatever his faults, was sharper than I expected, defended his record and spoke in a conversational and respectful manner. I can’t believe I’ll be voting for Stark. I’ve previously said here that that was not going to happen. But it will.

  • Diann T

    I was there last night too and what I saw was a younger candidate who cares very deeply about his community, its people and the issues affecting them. He was not as polished or folksy as Stark and he could stand to relax more when speaking in front of a group. HOWEVER, I don’t decide my vote on public speaking ability. The fact that Stark has a polished public persona after 40-plus years in politics is to be expected. The fact that Stark is OLD and missed 20 percent of his votes last year due to pneumonia is something to be considered. Stark scrambled his words more than a few times and as much as admitted living in Maryland the bulk of the time. He doesn’t represent Dublin or the rest of this district. He needs to retire and watch his son’t swim meets.

    I also found it creepy that he has grown children (a “son in the prosecutor’s office who is much senior to Swalwell’ – kind of a snarky comment from the incumbent) as well as ten-year-old twins. Ugh.

    I vote for the young candidate who cares so much he’s got a few nerves. Far better that than an old man who figures this is his office for life and he’s got so little energy or enthusiasm he can’t even be bothered to stand up to address the meeting.

  • Eric R.

    I have to agree with John W.

    I was a bit dismayed when I found out that, due to redistricting, my new incumbent congressman would be an 80-year old who had been in Congress for 40 years. I didn’t know much about Stark and did not like much of what I read about him. I went to the meeting to see what he was like for myself. And I also wanted to see what Swalwell was like in person too. I wanted to like Swalwell. I’m a resident of Dublin, and for the most part I like what the City Council does, so I expected to like Swalwell, who has served on the council.

    That was not that case.

    The way he delivered his speech seemed overly prepared and phony. All the other speakers spoke in conversational tones and were very plainspoken about their records, achievements, goals, and priorities. But Swalwell led off with an overly loud and dramatic anecdote about the hopes and dreams of children and what they want to be when they grow up and what we need to do to make their dreams possible. Maybe it’s just a matter of style, but I think he could have told the same story in a different way that would not have been so off-putting. It’s as if he wanted to imitate the soaring rhetoric of someone like President Obama, but it just seemed amateurish and inappropriate for the venue.

    I was also put off by the tone and content of his attacks on Stark. The main criticism seemed to be that Stark lives in Maryland, not in the district, so he is disconnected from the district. I’d like to know more about this, but Stark claims he gets back to town every two weeks. If he also comes back for recesses, then it seems like he is probably maintaining adequate contact with the district.

    Swalwell says he will not live in DC, but I’m wondering how that would work. What does he mean he won’t live there? Will he leave his family here, be away from them for most of the week, and fly home every weekend? Or will he move his family to DC so he can be with them most of the time, and come back to the district on weekends? I’m not sure what most congressmen do, but is seems like either choice would be legitimate, as long as the congressman gets back to the district regularly. I’m not sure how this counts as a fair criticism of Stark, unless he really comes back far less often than he says.

    As for Stark, I was not overly impressed by him either. At least he spoke in relaxed conversational tones. He does seem old. He seems like a person who has been in Washington for so long, that he doesn’t even realize how steeped in that culture he has become. One thing he said that bothered me was that the main function of a congressman is to send money back to the district for local government to use. I’m not sure I agree that is the MAIN function of a congressman.

    I’ve probably ranted enough now. I will probably do like John said, and vote for the ossified Stark over the phony Swalwell. Maybe Stark will retire after the next term, and we can get a better crop of younger candidates. Or maybe Swalwell will mature a bit and drop the act.

  • CuteStuff

    I can’t help but think that Swalwell is running his campaign ala The West Wing – the overly precious removal of the jacket, the rolling of the sleeves, the overly practiced speaking style. But what bothers me most is his lack if new ideas – Hollywood has little place in real public policy creation and neither does Eric Swalwell.

  • Rita T

    Was I the only one who thought Stark sounded condescending and confused with his dodging the questions and deflecting? He talked more about his gaggle of children–I don’t care about his ten year old twins–even less that one is great at the breaststroke! And maybe he mistakenly said ‘grandparents’ when he meant ‘grandchildren’ however, he just seemed senile and more focused on his personal life. I am not lucky enough to be a parent yet, but I am concerned with how I might care for my future children and what plans may be in place by the time all that happens. I felt more connected to the points Swallwell broached and the fact that I’ve actually seen him in our community makes me feel like he’s not just some comfortable politician trying to defend his choice of living somewhere else. Rocket ships? Really? Does Stark even know how to use a smartphone? I want change, I want youth, I want energy and vigor. I felt none of that from Stark. Eric Swallwell has my vote, and he is the right one for the job. 

  • Independent Voter

    “New energy and new ideas”

    I’m sure Swalwell is a nice guy, but he has ZERO substance! All he has offered is that cheesy campaign slogan referenced above. He has used “new energy and new ideas” since August, but hasn’t offered any substance to back it up.

    Also, has anyone noticed that the “issues” tab has been removed from his website? Whenever you would click on the “issues” tab, it read “Coming soon”. He was recently called on out this and the “issues” tab was removed two days later. I know that he is an attractive candidate because of his youth, but wouldn’t you like to know where he actually stands on issues? I have no clue what he stands for.

    Congressman Stark has served his constituents effectively for 40 years. He has my staunch support for another term. When the time is right, then I will be firmly behind Ro Khanna who actually has a platform and some concrete ideas on how to bring manufacturing jobs back to the district (and US).

    Maybe Hollywood could bring back a new West Wing series and cast Swalwell for the part. He is a tremendous actor and would be perfect for the role.

  • http://sorrysmalltyposinfirstone.com Sean A.

    I’m sure none of the comments above referencing 2014 have anything to do with the fact that there are some big-name Democrats who were too afraid to go against the outdated Pete Stark in this election cycle. Eric Swalwell has been brave enough to go against the political status-quo…. and it takes guts to go into a room full of party insiders and a sitting incumbent Member of Congres, stand up for the future of your community, and WIN! If any of those commenting above do that someday, I’d like to see them do it without a bit of nerves running through their veins…

    Only in a world of political cynicism is the statement “I’m not voting for the young guy who reminds me of the West Wing… I’ll hold my nose when voting, vote for Stark, and wait and hope for something good to happen two years down the road” seen as a respectable position to take in our representative democracy. I love the West Wing, I’m not afraid to admit it – it’s an inspiring show. I have to say, this marks the first time I’ve read political junkies refer to the West Wing in a cynical manner… it brings to mind the personal attacks on President Obama as “a celebrity.”

    2012 will mark the first year I will be able o vote. I certainly won’t be holding my nose in the ballot box, only to have to wait two more years before I feel proud of my vote. I’ll be pulling the lever (or pressing the button?) for Eric Swalwell with pride!

  • http://lasttrysorrysmalltyposinfirstone.com Sean A.

    I’m sure none of the comments above referencing 2014 have anything to do with the fact that there are some big-name Democrats who were too afraid to go against the outdated Pete Stark in this election cycle. Eric Swalwell has been brave enough to go against the political status-quo… and it takes guts to go into a room full of party insiders and a sitting incumbent Member of Congress, stand up for the future of your community, and WIN! If any of those commenting above do that someday, I’d like to see them do it without a bit of nerves running through their veins…

    Only in a world of political cynicism is the statement “I’m not voting for the young guy who reminds me of the West Wing… I’ll hold my nose when voting, vote for Stark, and wait and hope for something good to happen two years down the road” seen as a respectable position to take in our representative democracy. I love the West Wing, I’m not afraid to admit it – it’s an inspiring show. I have to say, this marks the first time I’ve read political junkies refer to the West Wing in a cynical manner… it brings to mind the personal attacks on President Obama as “a celebrity.”

    2012 will mark the first year I will be able to vote. I certainly won’t be holding my nose in the ballot box, only to have to wait two more years before I feel proud of my vote. I’ll be pulling the lever (or pressing the button?) for Eric Swalwell with pride!

  • Molly D

    Eric didn’t have the luxury to speak to us in a conversational tone, he’s the new comer. He came to make an impression and he certainly did that. I felt rejuvenated and hopeful listening to him. Frankly, he knocked my socks off. He must’ve impressed a few others, too. He won the straw poll.

  • Eric R.

    I posted above earlier, but I’ve had more time to think about what bothered me about Swalwell’s speech, and Iv’e had time to read a few more comments by others.

    What bothered me was that it seemed like he was being a bit arrogant and condescending to address the crowd in such a theatrical way. It’s like he thought he was on TV or speaking to a stadium full of supporters. This was a small group of interested voters who expected to be spoken to like adults. I don’t want to be wowed by style and flamboyance. In Swalwell’s bio it says he worked as a prosecutor, and when he was slamming Stark for living in Maryland, it seemed to me like he was trying to project disdain and anger at someone’s wrongdoings the way a prosecutor might do court to anger a jury. It didn’t work well for me.

    I’m sure he is a good person and is on track to do some good things for the community. I’m all for new energy and new ideas. But if you claim to have new ideas, let’s hear the new ideas. I didn’t hear any, and I didn’t hear much of anything of substance. Maybe he’d do better to leave Stark out of his speeches, and focus on his own new ideas, and leave off the theatrics.

  • Truthclubber

    Looks like SwalWail (or is it SmallMale, or FailWell — “we distort, you deride”, to quote Faux News) has some new staffers eager to join our current blogging friends “Lars54″ and “rew” as trolls for the CAUSE! of “new energy and new ideas” (just don’t ask us what THOSE are!) that is this 31 year old’s quest (one he has been pursuing since high school):

    Diann T
    Rita T
    Sean A
    Molly D

    Sorry to tell all of you kids, but “an empty suit with an airhose up its ***” is still “an empty suit with an airhose up its ***”, no matter how pretty it looks floating above us at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade…

    A man unwilling to tell us in detail (via a website, with things like “issues I believe in” for example) what he really believes in, is a man we don’t want anywhere near making laws that could incarcerate us, or worse, kill us if we are not in abidance with said laws.

  • Derek W

    “If you needed a heart transplant, would you look for someone right out of medical school who had never done a heart transplant before?” Stark said. “Or would you like someone who has done 100 heart transplants and you know how many patients lived? I think you know the answer to that.”

    —With all due respect to Rep. Pete Stark… I would never willingly choose an 80 year old heart surgeon, no matter how many successful heart transplants they’d performed in their 40+ year career…

  • rew

    It’s no accident Swalwell crushed 81 year old Pete Stark in this straw poll, word of the mouth on Stark locally and in Washington DC is not good. The consensus is Stark is a guy that needs to retire, but he refuses, even though he’s been in office 40 years. In Washington they are saying Stark is unusually forgetful – even for an 81 year old, he’s often confused, to the point where aides have to remind him -by whispering in his ear – who he is talking to sometimes. He sometimes doesn’t even regognize Representatives he’s served with for year, I’ve heard. He’s becoming a kind of Strom Thurmond like character in Washington, his aides completely run the show. But the difference, I think, is Strom Thurmond was fun and likeable, while Stark is cranky, difficult, and often just plain rude. I think this young guy Eric Swallwell has got a shot at beating Stark.

  • Elwood

    @#11 toothsucker

    Move along folks, nothing to see here.

    He’s just been in the cooking sherry again.

  • Truthclubber

    @12 — see @11 — the trolling continues by the paid staff of “Errant SmallFail” and I eagerly await the other trolls, er, commenters weighing in on how ES bends iron I-bars with his brute force, whereas “Stark Raving Pete” (hereafter referred to as SRP) can’t find his nose in front of a mirror!

    It doesn’t matter what I believe (says the great SmellWell) — it only matters that you vote against someone who is ready to be tossed into the machine that processes people into Soylent Green!

  • John W.

    Methinks that anybody familiar with Swalwell’s performance last night and who is now saying “he’s my guy” was already on board. That’s fine. But some of us went to the event with an “anybody but Stark” mindset. We were easy pickings for Swalwell. But there was no there there. I can’t imagine that anybody who went there undecided was impressed by Swalwell. I’m all for youth and vigor, especially considering that most of the Bay Area House/Senate delegation are nearly old enough to be my parents (and I became eligible for Medicare last year). But you’ve gotta give me more than that. He didn’t even mention any policy issues, let alone offer any of his ideas on those issues. And, unlike Stark, he left little time for questions. God forbid somebody might put him on the spot about a real issue. Obama’s critics like to think that all he did in the 2008 campaign was run on “hope and change” and soaring oratory. Not true. He talked specifics all the way through on issues like health care, taxes, environmental policy, the wars and foreign policy etc. Does Swalwell know anything about any of those issues? The reason I won’t vote for Swalwell now is that, once elected, we’re stuck with him. With GOP control of the House, it doesn’t much matter which Dem gets elected from the district in 2012. But it does matter who is there in 2014 and beyond, when the Dems have a better chance of reclaiming the House majority. So, I want to wait for a candidate who shows he or she has the stuff to be effective in a Dem majority scenario.

  • Derek W

    “Methinks that anybody familiar with Swalwell’s performance last night and who is now saying “he’s my guy” was already on board.”

    Then there must have been an awful lot of people in attendance who were already onboard Swalwell’s train… He did win by a landslide, after all.

  • Truthclubber

    Eric Swalwell” is well known to be Irish (as spoken in Dublin) for “E>/u>mpty Suit”.

  • concerned tri city Dem

    Eric- The taking off the coat was hilarious Congressman Garamendi does it good watch him and learn you had your 15 minutes. STARK again in 2012 and the Obama official
    Ro Khanna is the future

  • Eric R.

    A few people have mentioned the straw poll as evidence that Swalwell won over a lot of attendees at the meeting.

    I don’t think so.

    Participation in the poll was limited to members of the club. There were probably around 200 people at the meeting, but most could not participate in the poll, because the entire club membership apparently was about 60 before the meeting, and they added 12 that very day, according to an announcement by the treasurer at the meeting. The poll results were 32 to 19, so that means 51 of the 200 people there participated, and about 150 people did not. Swalwell has been a member of the club since he was a kid apparently. So it’s not too surprising he would win in a poll of members of a club of which he has been a member for years. Presumably, his fellow club members may be a bit biased in his favor.

    I’d be curious what the other 150 attendees who have not been friends with him for years thought.

  • John W.

    Re: #17

    “Then there must have ben an awful lot of people in attendance who were already onboard Swalwell’s train…He did win by a landslide, after all.”

    Well, duh! It was the Tri-Valley Democratic Club, whose members come primarily from Dublin (where Swalwell is on the city council) and nearby areas. Swalwell has been a club insider since forever. See #19. This doesn’t reflect the broader district.

    The only reason there were people there from outside the club is because of articles in the newspaper, which, judging by comments from the president, the club had not expected. In any event, only paying club members were allowed to vote in the straw poll. Fair enough. It’s their club. But Swalwell should have won almost unanimously. Instead, 37% of his fellow club members said, “no thanks.”

  • CuteStuff

    I love how Swalwell only shows up to the room he knows he can win – he was a no show at the State Convention and also a no-show at the Tri-City Dem Club in Newark/Fremont/Union City – so if he is going to pick only his home field advantage then he obviously doesn’t want to represent the rest of the district or learn what the rest of the district is looking for – pathetic.

    Look, I don’t agree with Pete on a lot of issues but at least he has the respect for the 703k+ to go everywhere. That earns him my respect.

  • rew

    Stark’s failure to win this staw poll is just another indictor he has no grassroots support in the newly drawn 15th district, he’s running a complete top-down, Washington DC-Beltway orientated cmpaign. The Stark campaign is being financed by Washington DC big shots and power brokers – the same group that has sat by idily and allowed this middle class jobs “wipeout” in the US to take place over he last decade. Pete Stark is the -more-of-the-same more candidate, more joblessness, more 15th district workers on food stamps, more plants closing, more jobs moving overseas. We need a new generation of political leaders that will get US workers working again, we need to end the misery, end the record deficits, that’s why I am supporting Eric Swalwell for Congress. This talk here of Swalwell taking of his coat, that’s an issue? Look at Stark’s record – the record of Pete Stark and the US Congress on jobs, it has been dismmal, disgraceful. No plan, no ideas, no nothing on the jobs front, let’s get some new blood in Congress, that’s what we need.

  • Publius

    This is a foreboding glimpse into the future of California politics. Dem vs Dem. In the end (whoever the candidate may be)they will bow down to the enviormentalist and big labor and continue the job destroying policies and march lockstep with National Democratics. This is an absolute waste of time. Stalwell will not be the stark contrast you are looking for.

  • Derek W

    Re#21: Isn’t the Tri Valley Dem Club pretty much the largest in the district? It covers a lot more than just Dublin…Pleasanton, Livermore and San Ramon too, right? Dublin was just the place were they met. Also, who in their right mind would expect a unanimous vote? Starke is a 40+ year incumbent, after all! Swalwell’s win, by such a large margin, against such an entrenched candidate, in such a large club seems like pretty big juju to me.

    I also kinda have to smirk at some of the criticisms people have posted regarding Swalwell’s showing. Comparing him to the West Wing… as a negative? I’m sorry, but that show is sacrosanct! Perhaps I’m just naive, but I often find myself fantasizing about a real life President Josiah Bartlet :) And taking his jacket off… really? Is that even worth mentioning, especially in comparison to some of the things one might then point to regarding Stark? Like, say, this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhqldZE3OLE

  • John W.

    Re: 25

    Derek W, I think Tri Valley is open to just about anyone who wants to pay the dues, and I admire them as the foot soldiers who get people elected. Grudgingly,I admire the Tea Party for the same reason. There may well be members from San Ramon, etc. However, based on the members I spoke with, the club has a distinct I-580 Dublin or Dublin/Livermore/Pleasanton feel to it.

    No,I wouldn’t really expect a unanimous vote;but 37% of club membership voting for Stark is significant, considering that there are probably few if any members from Stark’s geographic base in the club. Stark people were there, but they couldn’t vote unless they were club members.

    Before the meeting started, I engaged in a wonderful conversation with a nice couple who were totally on board for Swalwell, eagerly wearing his campaign T-shirts. They’re from Dublin, and I’m sure they are still for Swalwell. But they weren’t exactly jumping up and down with excitement in reaction to his speech.

    As for comments about taking off the jacket, that’s just a metaphor for Swalwell’s robotic, substance-free presentation, which stood in stark contrast (pun intended) to all the other speakers. We’ve all seen hundreds of political appearances during which politicians take off their jackets and roll up their sleeves at some point. However, Swalwell’s version of it was so transparently mechanical that it was like a Saturday Night Live skit and was representative of his entire presentation.

    Sorry, I went to the meeting completely prepared to be converted from neutral to “all in” for Swalwell. I’m no Pete Stark fan. But Swalwell pulled a Rick Perry and blew it.

  • Truthclubber

    Derek W –

    I forgot to add you to the aformentioned list of Swalwell (or Failwell, or SwalWail, or SmallMale — take your pick) staffers, aka fanbots:

    =========================================

    Looks like SwalWail (or is it SmallMale, or FailWell — “we distort, you deride”, to quote Faux News) has some new staffers eager to join our current blogging friends “Lars54″ and “Rew” as trolls for the CAUSE! of “new energy and new ideas” (just don’t ask us what THOSE are!) that is this 31 year old’s quest (one he has been pursuing since high school):

    Diann T
    Rita T
    Sean A
    Molly D

    Sorry to tell all of you kids, but “an empty suit with an airhose up its ***” is still “an empty suit with an airhose up its ***”, no matter how pretty it looks floating above us at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade…

    A man unwilling to tell us in detail (via a website, with things like “issues I believe in” for example) what he really believes in, is a man we don’t want anywhere near making laws that could incarcerate us, or worse, kill us if we are not in abidance with said laws.

  • rew

    California voters took redistriucting away from the politicians to get rid of the permanent Congress, that’s clear. Pete Stark is the kind of politician reformers want to get rid of, he’s been in office 40 years. He started out representing the 8th district in Oakland, then the ninth, then the 13th which includes parts of San Jose, and now a voter created commissions draws up this 15th district and the 81 year old Stark pops up claiming, “hey, I got dibs on the 15th, I think I represented that area once. Not surprisingly, the ancient Stark still thinks the rules are the same, he believes the commission drew up the district for him. I got news for Stark, the commission drew up districts to put an end to the permanent Congress, voters can readily see what happens when you don’t have competitive Congressional elections. The corruption and the rot in the beltway has led to a disappearing US middle class. Stark, and others like him are responsible for this mess. It is imperitive the Pete Starks of Congress be given the boot, which is why I think Eric Swallwell is the right candiate for this seat. We desperately need new leaders in Congress.

  • John W.

    Re: #28 “It is imperative the Pete Starks of Congress be given the boot, which is why I think Eric Swalwell is the right candidate.”

    That statement is not exactly a model of Aristotelian logic. One can concur in the notion that Pete Stark’s best days are long behind him without concluding that we should choose an empty suit as his de facto permanent replacement. It makes no difference which Dem holds the seat for now, because Repubs will hold the House in 2012. And, in the House, the minority party has no say. So, in my mind, it makes sense to let old Pete keep the seat warmed for another term in the expectation that he will make way for a better field of replacement candidates in 2014. That’s how I plan to vote.

  • Eric R.

    As I mentioned before, I wasn’t much impressed with Swalwell at the meeting, because his speech was so shallow and overly dramatic. But I was not very impressed with my new rep Stark either. I completely agree with some of the other commenters that he is old and stale, and it would be good to have some new energy and new ideas. I just didn’t see Swalwell offering much on the idea side.

    My completely unsolicited advice to him would be to offer up some ideas and present them with some depth. It’s not easy going up against an incumbent who has a record to show — I get that. He’s at a disadvantage there, and he seemed to try to make up for it by generating a dramatic energetic splash. And it did not come off very well.

    And the energy side of the equation is not going to be enough anyway — he needs the ideas. I’d suggest he find something in his record on the city council that he can point to to show he has new ideas, and describe how he might apply something similar when in congress. Hopefully he has something, and if not, then maybe he is not a person with new ideas.

    I’d also suggest he present a specific policy proposal or two in some detail. Pick some issues relevant to the district and develop some ideas to address them in depth. He mentioned wanting to turn the area into a “Green Valley,” and by that, I think he means something similar to Silicon Valley, but focused on Green technology. Well that sounds great, and I’m all for it. But how is he going to do it? By speaking in such vague general terms, he didn’t really seem to be presenting a new or innovative idea. There are probably hundreds of congressmen, Stark included, hoping to have their districts be a part of a green technology revolution. The question is, what is his idea for getting it done? Speaking in platitudes and vague generality is not going to get it done. It’s not even enough to care deeply about an issue and sincerely want to address it if you don’t know what you want to do, and you don’t have a plan or vision.

    If he can actually produce some ideas, I’ll give him another look, despite the poor first impression.

    The other tip I would offer is to drop the phony over-the-top act. At the very least, if you are going to dramatically whip off your suit jacket in the middle of a speech, do not get yourself entangled in the cord of the microphone attached to your lapel. If you are going to adopt precious affectations, you need to do it flawlessly, or it just calls unwanted attention to the phoniness. I’d say it is too risky. Just drop it altogether, come up with some good ideas, and present them like an adult speaking to another adult, without the silly flourishes.

    Good luck, Swalwell. Come up with an idea or two and get back to us. I want an alternative to Stark, but it has to be someone with real ideas and a plan to get there.

  • John W.

    Good constructive thoughts from Eric R. His willingness to give Swalwell a second look if he comes up with some substance is commendable. That’s probably the right attitude, but one I don’t share. For me, the first impression is the one that will last in this case. I simply want other people to choose from, and it looks like we’ll have to wait until 2014 for that. If we install Swal this time around, we’ll never get that chance.

  • Derek W

    @Truthclubber, re: “Derek W- I forgot to add you to the aformentioned list of Swalwell (or Failwell, or SwalWail, or SmallMale — take your pick) staffers, aka fanbots”

    Interesting logic… I suppose, if one were to follow it, that would make you one of Stark’s staffers, or “fanbots”? My sympathies to Pete… you must be a handful.

    As it happens, I don’t work for Swalwell’s campaign. I’m actually a cellular biologist, and I work for a biopharmaceuticals company in Palo Alto. I don’t even live in district 15, though I have several friends who do, and discussions with them are the reason I’m even interested (beyond a general curiosity regarding Stark as one of the oldest serving members of Congress). So there that is.

  • Truthclubber

    @32 — you luxuriously left off the key meat of my follow-up (not surprisingly, as a fanbot would, wanting to ignore reality and insert distortion):

    ================================================

    Sorry to tell all of you kids, but “an empty suit with an airhose up its ***” is still “an empty suit with an airhose up its ***”, no matter how pretty it looks floating above us at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade…

    A man unwilling to tell us in detail (via a website, with things like “issues I believe in” for example) what he really believes in, is a man we don’t want anywhere near making laws that could incarcerate us, or worse, kill us if we are not in abidance with said laws.

    ========================================

    When you directly address this (the above between ======), you pompous, over-entitled, uber-coddled, “baby can do no wrong”, little POS, then we’ll listen to you (a “cellular biologist who works for a biopharmaceuticals company in Heaven, aka Palo Alto“) and your arguments in favor of this (like you) pompous, over-entitled, uber-coddled, “baby can do no wrong” little POS candidate for a seat where his laws can do severe damage.

  • Elwood

    @toothsucker

    You’re getting worse.

    Every night in the cooking sherry.

  • Valerie K

    For all those already clear that Rep. Stark is senile and useless yet unimpressed with Mr. Swalwell – I would offer that voting for Swalwell would be a step up because at least he’s energetic, engaged and conscious. That would give him time to grow and learn, and if he doesn’t measure up then we can elect someone else. But discounting him because he takes his coat off in a rehearsed way is like saying you’d vote for someone because you liked the way he took off his coat. If he doesn’t clearly start stating his ideas in a substantial way, then vote for the old curmudgeon that is way past his ability to do the job.

  • John W.

    Valerie K

    If you think the only reason some of us were underwhelmed by Swalwell was because of the way he took off his jacket, you’re missing the point. He displayed not an ounce of substance. His sales pitch was a caricature of a politician imitating a politician. Just because I think Stark’s beyond his prime, to put it mildly, does not mean I have to immediately replace him with the first person who comes along to replace him, just because that person has a pulse. Especially not when I know there are others lining up to run in 2014. In business, I’ve had to replace people over the years, because the incumbents either quit or got fired. Did we hire the first person who asked for the job. No, we waited to recruit a strong field of candidates and picked the best one. If we vote in Swalwell this time, the advantages of incumbency and the noncompetitive nature of the district likely mean he gets to stay there forever unless he gets caught stealing stuff from a department store or puts naughty pictures of himself on Facebook.

  • Ken

    I don’t know anything about Eric Swalwell, but I do know that Pete Stark is pompous, arrogant, condescending, cocky……..let me consult the Thesaurus and I can continue with more fine descriptors of Mr. Stark.

    Stark represents the negative,greedy, self-serving elected officials in Washington who have brought our great country to the verge of bankruptcy. Time to go, Petey.

  • JohnW

    @37 Ken

    So, does that mean that (a) you live in the district and (b) will be voting for Swalwell?

    Didn’t think so!