Challenger fights Pete Stark… with Pete Stark

Eric Swalwell, the young Democratic upstart who’s taking on veteran incumbent Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, is taking a page from another young upstart’s playbook: Pete Stark.

Back in June 1972, a more youthful Stark ran a newspaper ad touting himself as “40 years old, consistently against the Vietnam war, sponsor of district programs for more jobs and higher standard of living,” and his opponent – veteran incumbent George Paul Miller, of no relation to Stark’s current colleage – as “81 years old, a congressman for 28 years, has consistently voted for continuing the Vietnam war and advocates vast space spending programs.”

Swalwell’s new flyer reprints that 1972 ad alongside his own, which describes him as “31 years old, City Councilman and prosecutor with energy and ideas to create new jobs. Will work in bipartisan fashion to clean up Congress and Wall Street,” while describing Stark as “80 years old and 40-year member of Congress. Has resided in Maryland for more than 20 years. Has missed more than 20 percent of votes in the last session of Congress.”

Oooh, karma.

The ads have similar layouts, and similar goals. Like Stark’s 1972 ad, Swalwell’s 2012 ad instructs readers when and where to see the candidates side-by-side: at a forum at 8 p.m. this Tuesday, April 10 in the Hayward City Council’s chambers at 777 B St., sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Eden Area. Stark and Swalwell have faced off a few times already at various local Democratic clubs, but this is the first nonpartisan forum and so will be the first to also include conservative independent candidate Chris Pareja.

BTW, note that Swalwell’s dig at Stark’s record of missed votes speaks of “the last session of Congress.” GovTrack.us’ nifty graph shows Stark did indeed miss a lot of votes in the 111th Congress – he has acknowledged this, and explained that he was down for a while with pneumonia – but has improved his record in this current 112th Congress.

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.

  • moderate voter

    When I think about 81 year old Stark running for this newly drawn up 15th Congressional district I always think of Strom Thurmond. I recall Thurmond served as a US Senator from South Carolina well into his 90’s, he may have been a 100 when he died in office.
    I recall reading Thurmond got so old when his staffers would drive him to work in the morning he would say stuff like, “What’s that funny round white building guys” and his aides would say, “That’s the capitol Senator”.
    They would then wheel Thurmond up to his office and he would sit in his chair and start complaining about Harry Truman, he’d say “We’ve got to get Truman out of the White House”, and his staffers would say, “Senator, Bush is President now, you are forgetting, and Thurmond would say, “Oh yes, I forgot”. And then Thurmond would fall asleep. After Thurmond conked out then his top staff guy would take over as US Senator from South Carolina.
    I think the message of that story is sometimes you can serve too long in Congress. Stark, as many know, is 81 and has served 40 years in Congress. I think most would agree it’s time to hang up his cleats, but clearly he doesn’t want to leave.
    While Stark is clearly sharper mentally than Thurmond was in his final term, I think sometimes you’ve got to vote an aging congressman out. Get a younger person in the job, two hour work days don’t fly with all these people out of work, you sometimes need to go younger which is why I’m supporting this young go getter Eric Swalwell for Congress.

  • Elwood

    Is that you, Lars 54?

    Or some other Swalwell sock puppet?

    Could you be more obvious?

  • John W.

    Think of it this way. With one 81 year old Pete Stark, isn’t that like the district getting two 40-year old representatives for the price of one? Also, if Pete retires, then we would have to pay his Congressional pension and health benefits while also paying full salary and benefits to an apprentice. Also, Swalwell has said that he will be living in Dublin and returning home far more often than Pete does — at taxpayer expense, of course. So, it seems there is a strong argument that voting for Stark is the more fiscally responsible choice. Who would’ve thunk it?

  • Charlie Peters

    Federal ethanol policy increases Government motors oil use and Big oil profit.

    It is reported that today California is using Brazil sugar cane ethanol at $0.16 per gal increase over using GMO corn fuel ethanol. In this game the cars and trucks get to pay and Big oil profits are the result, that may be ready for change.

    Folks that pay more at the pump for less from Cars, trucks, food, water & air need better, it is time.

    The car tax of AB 118 Nunez is just a simple Big oil welfare program, AAA questioned the policy and some folks still agree.

    AB 523 is just a short put (waiver) from better results.

  • John W.

    Anybody know if there are any plans to video the debate and put it online for those of us who don’t care to venture over to the Hayward side of the district?

  • Scott

    @John W. I like you’re analysis of why Stark would be a better fiscal choice! However, I feel that I should point out that while a Congressman’s travel budget is a taxpayer expense, it comes out of their Members Representational Allowance, which will be the same no matter who is elected. They are given a budget and get to spend it however they see fit. I’m not going to be in Stark’s district anymore, but I am wondering if Pete ISN’T coming back to California that often, what is he doing with that money?

  • John W.

    @5 Scott

    See Josh Richman’s post “How tight-fisted” was your House member?”

    My guess is that Stark’s office has a lot of people who have been Congressional staffers since World War I and are, therefore, at the top end of the pay scale. Also, even if Pete didn’t travel to the district as often as, say, Jerry McNerney, some of his staff may have visited.