Chris Pareja: independent no more

Chris Pareja, the conservative independent candidate who finished third (and so was eliminated from the race) in this month’s 15th Congressional District primary, announced today on Facebook that he re-registered as a Republican at this past Tuesday night’s Alameda County GOP meeting.

It begs the question, I think, of whether our new top-two primary system encourages candidates to obfuscate their true political leanings by claiming to have no party preference – a means of fooling less-informed citizens into giving them their votes.

However, Pareja – a businessman from Hayward – always has been very candid about his views, even if he wasn’t an avowed member of the GOP.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, finished first in this primary, followed by fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell – a Dublin councilman and Alameda County prosecutor; they’ll go mano-a-mano in November.

Pareja announced last week he couldn’t endorse the more moderate Swalwell over Stark, saying Swalwell “lacks the life experience and character to effectively represent this district” and “is actually more dangerous to the future of the country.”

(Sorry the blotter has been so slow lately; I’ll be back to work on Monday, and the posting pace will pick up again.)

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.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Who gives a flyin’ mouse tail about this nobody’s career except he and his loved ones?

  • moderate voter

    I think Bareja’s endorsement of the 81 year old Pete Stark will have little impact, Bareja’s vote in the primary was mostly anti-Pete Stark in nature. Conservatives and some independents consider the highly partisan Stark anathema, so Bareja picked up some votes from moderates and conservatives. But now these same voters have a choice between moderate Democrat Eric Swalwell, and Stark, considered one of the most liberal members of Congress. I just don’t see many conservatives voting for Stark, he is poster child for big, big government, he’s a tax and spend liberal like no other. Normally in NorCal being a tax and spend liberal flies, but this deficit we have now – trillions and trillions of dollars – all borrowed from the red Chinese – we are so broke now we have to go to communists countries with a tin cup, it’s so gargantuan it’s making everybody nervous, including myself, and I’m a blue collar guy!
    We don’t need prolific spenders – like Pete Stark – in Congress now – Congressman that rubber stamp any and all spending programs, we need leaders in Congress that are careful stewards of the public dollar. We need to protect key programs, like Medicare, Pell Grants, and so forth, but get rid of wasteful spending. I think of it as smart public spending. We have a local Congressman who believes in smart federal spending policies, Jerry McNerny, and I think this young go-getter Eric Swalwell does too, which is why I am backing him over 40 year incumbent Pete Stark.
    I recall when Bill Clinton was president – he was a moderate Democrat – we had a balanced budget, unemployment was down to 3%, everybody was working, blue collar, white collar, the economy was just humming, we need to get that back. We can get this back, but we need the right leadership, which is why I think Eric Swalwell is the right guy.

  • JohnW

    Jeesh, now we’re comparing Eric Swalwell to Bill Clinton? Reminds me of Lloyd Bensten’s “You’re no Jack Kennedy” line in his 1992 debate with Dan Quayle.

    Swalwell is obviously no Bill Clinton. But he’s no Jerry McNerney either. He’s a staff attorney in a DA office with less than a half term on a city council.

    McNerney, by contrast, holds a PhD in mathematics, attended West Point and had well-informed views about foreign policy, veterans affairs and renewable energy before he ever decided to run for Congress. Before forming his own start-up renewable energy company (which his opponents made light of), he had extensive private sector employment in that field, doing work for Sandia National Laboratories and companies like PG&E. He initially ran for office because of his stung views on something (Iraq), not just because he could.

    If Swalwell’s opponent had been anybody other than Stark, the newspapers who endorsed him would never have taken him seriously. They would have said he wasn’t ready yet to hold office at that level. When Pete Stark made is outrageous accusations, the newspapers didn’t appear to even look into whether Swalwell’s voting record on the council and planning commission was meritorious.

  • JohnW

    Oops! Make that, “…because of his strong (not stung) views…” My bad.

  • Elwood

    George Miller hadn’t done diddly squat when he was elected to Congress.

    And he’s been there for 38 years, God help us all.

  • Elwood

    “Before forming his own start-up renewable energy company (which his opponents made light of)”



  • JohnW

    #5 “George Miller hadn’t done diddly squat when he was elected to Congress.”

    I didn’t know that, but you are 100% right. I lived in the Midwest then and didn’t became acquainted with California politics until 2004. But I would have felt the same way about Miller as I do about Eric Swalwell and Ricky Gill. Perhaps the 38 years wouldn’t have happened if we had had open primary/top 2.

  • moderate voter

    John, Eric Swalwell came close to beating Stark in the primary even though he spent like 1/5th the money Stark did. Had the election gone a week longer he likely would have beat Stark. Most now believe Swalwell will win in November. Stark’s base is just too narrow, he has ultra liberals supporters, the professional politicians, but after that his support drops off considerably.
    In the general Stark won’t be able to get Republicans, independents, moderate Democrats, small business owners, senior citizens (who often are moderate voters). Moreover, even some of Stark’s more liberal supporters are throwing him overboard due to his outrageous behavior in the primary – the false accusations made agaisn’t Eric Swalwell, defamatory stuff, accusations that made many – including all local newspaper editorial boards, just cringe. Indeed, because of these false statements, virtually all local newspapers are now endorsing Swalwell. Stark, in fact, is losing votes, the more he campaigns, the worse it gets, he’s even losing many of his core supporters. The emerging consensus is Stark’s gone a bit off his rocker, everybody I know is saying this.
    In regards to you comments that Swalwell earned these endorsements – from local newspapers – only because nobody else is running, I really beg to differ. You can readily see this young Swalwell is a remarkable young man.
    Going into the race Swalwell was the longest of long shots, he had little money, the big shots in Washington DC – like Nancy Pelosi had annointed Stark for the 15th district, they even had another candidate on deck for two or four years from now should the 81 year old Stark ever get around to retiring. The whole establishment in the beltway, the big special interest groups, Nancy Pelosi and her retinue of political operatives, decided that Pete Stark – who is 81 and showing it – was just perfect for the 15th district This was all worked out in DC, local voters had no say, we had 81 year old Pete Stark just dumped on us even though he’s five times more liberal than the average 15th district voter.
    Despite these long odds – the fact all the big wigs in Washington were backing Stark – Swalwell now appears to be the front runner. How did he accomplish this? He has accomplished this by building this incredible grassroots campaign, many of whom are young people, college kids, high school kids, super market checkers, computer geeks, small business owners – it doesn’t even look like most of his supporters even shave yet (at least the guys anyway), yet Swalwell is beating Stark and these big shots in the beltway, geez you gotta love it. When you see real Democracy happening, it’s just so great to see. Democracy rocks!

  • JohnW

    Moderate Voter

    You don’t need to convince me that Swalwell will likely win in November. Nor do you need to convince me that Stark deserves to lose his seat. Nor do you need to convince me of the ineptitude exhibited by the party establishment in backing Stark this year. What you can’t convince me about is the notion that a rank and file prosecutor in the DA office, who is not even half-way through his first term on a city council, and who has displayed no depth on any issue deserves my vote. Other than that, I think he’s a great candidate.

    I’ve read enough Contra Costa Times and SF Chronicle endorsement editorials to know how they would normally respond to somebody with Swalwell’s background if he were running for Supervisor, Assembly or State Senate. They would say, he’s a bright energetic guy and should try again in a few years when he has some experience and depth. But all of a sudden, he’s the right guy to represent us in Congress? Give me a break!

  • moderate voter

    John, the first politician I ever voted for was George Miller, he was just 27 years old – never had held elective office. I recall seeing him campaign at Diablo Valley College in that campaign, Miller looked like a college kid, had a bunch of college kid campaign workers in tow for that speech. Anyway, he got elected – at age 27 – never had held an elective office before, but he turned out to have a remarkable career. He’s current ranking Democrat of the House Education and Labor Committee, previously was Chair of House Natural Resources Committee. Miller has had a remarkable career, he has power in DC like you won’t believe. He’s more liberal than I am, but hey, the guy has had a career like no other, he is a superb Congressman, you can’t make a case he’s not had a magnificent career.
    The reason I’m relating that story is this; sometimes you’ve got to go with the younger generation, they bring a lot to the table – if they are hard working and industrious. Orginization’s benefit by bring in young innovators, new blood, you see this in Silicon Valley. It’s these young geeks coming out of colleges with new ideas and new ways of looking at things that have sparked a lot of these technological break troughs.
    My major complaint about the NorCal Democratic Congressional delegation is this; where are the young innovators, the new George Miller’s? The delegation is all 70 years old, Stark being the oldest at 81. Is Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders making an effort to bring young members into Congress? Why didn’t Pelosi back this 33 year old Eric Swalwell?
    If you look at Swalwell’s CV he has more experience as an elected offical than George Miller did, he’s older than Miller was in his maiden 74 campaign, he also has an important job as a prosecutor, along with serving on the Dublin City Council. He’s got a strong back round for Congress
    The big thing though is energy, with Swalwell you are going to get a guy that’s going to work hard, as opposed to Stark who missed 30% of his votes in the last session, a shameful record of inactivity, given the fact we are in this great recession. You can have a lot of experience – Stark clearly does, but if you don’t work hard, experience doesn’t mean anything.

  • Elwood

    Good Lord, I wouldn’t hold George Miller up as an example of anything to anyone, unless it was as one of the leading congressional bleeding heart liberal fools.

    George hasn’t given a rip about his district for years. He doesn’t have to. It’s a safe dimmiecrat district and they elect him again and again. George’s district is inside the beltway and inside his head. He’s a big picture kind of guy.

    His principal role in D.C. is as Nancy Pelosi’s errand boy.

  • JohnW

    Moderate Voter,

    “The big thing though is energy…” Really? John Edwards had energy!

    It’s about substance, not Swalwell’s age. We’ll see how the next few months of his campaign develop. Hopefully, he will offer more in the way of ideas and positions on issues. Let’s see him take a stand on something that’s right but not necessarily popular. He will probably win handily no matter what he does. But he should give voters reasons to vote FOR him, not just AGAINST Stark. As Walter Mondale once said of an opposing candidate, “Where’s the beef?”