Updates on House races: CA9, CA10 & CA15

After a spate of news about some of Northern California’s most notable House races of 2014, I thought it was time to examine some others that are flying under the radar.

I’ve reported recently that 2012 Republican U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Emken is moving to Fair Oaks to challenge freshman Rep. Ami Bera, D-Rancho Cordova, in the 7th Congressional District, and about the (lopsided) money race between Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, and Democratic challenger Ro Khanna in the 17th Congressional District.

Here’s a little more to chew on, based on who has filed papers with the Federal Election Commission and launched websites so far:

Steve Colangelo9th Congressional District: Now in his fourth term, incumbent Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, is perennially identified by the National Republican Congressional Committee as vulnerable, yet has stomped all comers; last year, he beat GOP challenger Ricky Gill by 12 percentage points in the newly drawn district. In 2014, he’ll face a challenge from Steve Anthony Colangelo, 53, of Stoctkon, a prominent member of the local business community who owns “the leading event supply company in the Central Valley for weddings, graduation parties and other important community and family events.” At least we know the campaign parties will be lavishly appointed.

Michael Eggman10th Congressional District: Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, won a second term last year by beating back a challenge from Democrat and former astronaut Jose Hernandez. Next year he’ll face a challenge by Michael Eggman, 48, of Kingsburg, an almond farmer and apiary operator who says he can identify with and act upon Central Valley farmers’ concerns. A key question will be whether he is also the walrus, goo goo g’joob. (Sorry, Mr. Eggman – I’m sure you get that a lot, but I couldn’t resist.)

Ellen Corbett15th Congressional District: Freshman Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, will face a challenge from state Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro – note her relatively new campaign website, through which she’s seeking contributions via the progressive grassroots ActBlue organization. Corbett, you’ll recall, had hoped to succeed Rep. Pete Stark but chose not to run against him last year; Swalwell ran and won. Swalwell’s campaign tells me he raised about $233,000 in the second quarter, bringing his total receipts for the first half of this year to just shy of the half-million mark and leaving him with around $350,000 cash on hand as of June 30. I reached out to Corbett for a preview of her second-quarter numbers, but she didn’t respond.

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.

  • JohnW

    I’d be surprised if any of the challenges amounted to much, other than in the CD 17 contest. That one should be fun to watch.

    Swalwell has gone from half-term city council to Eric the Great, Congressman for Life.

    These days, I’m not sure why anybody would want the job. The House is a farce. Nothing gets done, and they spend all their time raising money.

    In the Senate, they have the filibuster, so that nothing gets done on appointments and legislation without 60 votes. The filibuster, in one form or another, has been part of Senate tradition forever, but never in the House.

    But it’s actually worse in the House, under the so-called Hastert Rule. When he was House Republican Majority Leader, Hastert decided he would not bring up anything for a vote unless it had support from a “majority of the majority.”

    Boehner has stuck with the same rule. That means if some bill had support from 117 of 234 Republicans and all 201 Democrats, for a total of 318 (73% of the 435 total), it would not come up for a vote under the Hastert Rule. So, even though the Tea Party Caucus is only about 85 or so people, they have virtual veto power over anything if they can round up just 32 additional votes to support them, which normally they can.

    Of course, Boehner has the authority to call a vote for something to pass with a majority made up of Democrats and Republicans. But, he won’t, because he would probably lose his Speakership.

    Is this a great country or what?

  • GV Haste

    Simple fact is that Corbett needs a job. She has run out her local string and doesn’t have the charisma or following for a statewide run.

    She can only run left of Swalwell leaving her in a difficult position come November.

    I’d like to see her “issues”. Separating herself from Swalwell.

    Give me the top three.

    Or are we suppose to just elect her because she is a woman? Or because she has been in the state legislature for years and years. That honorable legislative body. Or because she is loyal to the senate leader Steinberg? or to Speaker Perez?

    Good thing she “moved” into the district before it became too obvious.

    What is her strategy? She won’t have a money advantage. Does the electorate really want to replace the “new” with the…. uh, er, grizzled veteran?
    What does that ad look like?
    “My brilliant leadership in the esteemed state legislature”

  • JohnW


    Maybe Pete Stark will campaign for her. That should put her over the top.

  • I think Ellen could win if she took a pro-civil liberties agenda and spoke up against the NSA’s spying on Americans and the other violations of our constitutional rights. She has little to lose, the Washington establishment will back Eric anyway. Confronting the Obama administration would help her secure her position with liberal Democrats and might help her get some votes from the libertarian side of the Republican party.

    But that may take more guts than she has.

  • Elwood

    Well, if she does all that, she’s a lock for the flying pig vote.

  • Ellen Corbett should’ve run for the Board of Equalization seat . . . could’ve given Fiona Ma a run for her money.

  • GV Haste


    “I think Ellen could win if she took a pro-civil liberties agenda and spoke up against the NSA’s spying on Americans and the other violations of our constitutional rights.”

    By November of 2014, that is sure to be a pivotal issue for at least 3% of the electorate.
    Especially blaming Obama for it.

    She might do a little polling on that before spending $40,000 on a mailer.
    Sent out in late October of 2014, my estimated life expectancy for that item in the home is 27 seconds from mail box to waste basket.

  • JohnW

    Yup, somebody running on that theme would be a lock to get the Snowden and Assange endorsements.

  • Alcoahead

    8) Really? 55% of people polled think otherwise…


    Add to that Eric the Great’s tendency to showboat his “twitterati” chops by violating House protocol, and his utter reluctance to go against anything “John Law” wants, and there might be something there…

  • BlueCollarVoter

    I am somewhat surprised Corbett is running, Swalwell has done a nice job so far, he’s proven to be masterful at constituent work, he’s all over his district meeting and greeting voters 24/7 on weekends, when in Washington he’s skyping them, I’ve read. In DC he seems to be highly regarded, I recall reading the Democratic leadership were so impressed by Swalwell they made him a whip right away. I don’t know what Corbett can run on – what is the point of her candidacy? Elect me because I am out of a job? Voters just elected Swalwell – I’m sure they will give him some time to deliver on his campaign promises, it seems unlikely – very unlikely – voters will kick him out after a single two year term. Voters are fair minded, this was a very young candidate they sent to DC – just 33 years old – so I think voters are expecting him to grow into the job, which he appears to be doing – rather quickly, I think.
    I don’t think 15th district voters will see the rationale of voting for Corbett, a termed out State Senator who is desperately looking for another political job. She will just end up looking like a spoiler, voters will say – “hey we just elected this guy, let’s give him a chance to see what he can do”.
    One thing that’s ominous for Corbett is the bay area economy is improving – rapidly – that started happening right around the time Swalwell got elected to Congress, the economy is trending in favor of incumbents now, I would think.

  • GV Haste

    #9, That 55% figure, might be true today depending on how the poll is done, but what you seem to be missing is that come November of 2014, that issue will be a miniscule part of ancient history, of importance to less than 3% of the voters in the district. Especially if Corbett were to approach it from a “Obama is wrong” position.

    Not worth even bringing up. In fact, it could allow Swalwell to say he is backing Obama on the issue and come out better.

    As to Eric “violating House protocol”…Oh my, now you’re talking about a issue that is of interest to 0.3% of the voters. (3 out of 1,000)

    You really need to get out to a shopping mall and see what the public is actually concerned about.

  • JohnW


    My guess is that the 55% has slipped a bit.

    But the fact that 55% of people think Snowden is a whistleblower doesn’t make it so. Now seeking asylum in Russia. That’s rich. If he wants to fly out of Russia and not worry about entering the airspace of U.S. allies, North Korea might be willing to take him in.

    Whatever Eric the Great is doing seems to be working for him. Can’t imagine anybody beating him. If he’s smart and wants to stay in politics, he’ll get the heck out of D.C. after a couple of terms and run for state office. D.C. is hopeless. They should turn it into a movie and make it a double feature along with Syfy’s Sharknado — featuring tornadoes comprised of flying sharks attacking humans on land, who battle against them with chainsaws and guns. Come to think of it, that sounds like a fair description of the U.S. House.

  • Elwood

    55% (approximately) of the people voted for Obama, star of the hit series “Welcome back, Carter!”

    and #12: seriously funny, John!

  • JohnW


    51% of the people voted to re-elect Bush, star of the 2004 movie, “Crash.” In 2012, they re-elected Obama and rejected Mitt, star of the 2010 dud movie,” Ca$h!”

  • RR Senile Columnist

    It’s never too late for a comeback! Pete Stark will kick off his campaign with a screening of “One Million Years BC”. Pete plays himself

  • JohnW

    Debra Saunders today likened Congress to a hockey rink with no nets — just a hockey puck (the issues) going back and forth between two teams with big elbows and pointed fingers but no goals.

    Not bad. Except that there are more than two teams on the ice these days. The Dems, Repubs and the individual members, who couldn’t care less about national or statewide opinion polls or the national interest — just whatever plays to the “base” in their heavily gerrymandered districts.

    So, who the heck wants to spend their lives on a hockey rink where there are no goals? In that context, what does it matter if Pete or Eric won, or if Mike or Ro wins?

  • RR senile columnist

    No.16—Yes John W., DS was on target. So was noted East Asia pundit Sum Ting Wong, who got a brief mention on Ch 2.