CA15: Stark vows to help Corbett beat Swalwell

The 2014 campaign for the 15th Congressional District seat has started sounding a lot like the 2012 campaign, as former congressman Pete Stark vengefully vows to support a challenger to the fellow Democrat who unseated him, Rep. Eric Swalwell.

Pete Stark“Hopefully Eric will lose, and I am doing everything I can to see that Ellen Corbett wins that primary election,” Stark told CQ Roll Call on Wednesday. “I remember Eric, during the campaign against me, suggested that I was too old and inept to be of any value in the political process, so I am going to see if I can prove that to be wrong.”

State Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, has trailed Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, thus far in fundraising and visibility, but Stark hopes to change that.

“I know that Eric used to say that I had $30 million,” Stark said. “I wish he was correct. But I have at least half that much at my disposal, and so I intend to broadcast far and wide his ethics problems and his inexperience and his failure to accomplish much in the Congress.”

Stark’s 2012 campaign committee contributed $2,000 to Corbett’s campaign in August.

Then again, Swalwell beat the 20-term incumbent last year in part because the district’s voters apparently were fed up with Stark’s behavior, including a series of unsupported accusations against Swalwell and others. And Stark’s vow to spend from his own pocket on Corbett’s campaign begs questions both of why he hasn’t done so thus far, and why he didn’t do so to keep himself in office last year.

Swalwell said Thursday that voters decided last year to replace a 40-year incumbent, and that he has kept his promise “to bring new energy and ideas to Congress. It’s time to move on and look forward and not go back to the tired politics of the past.”

“He’s trying to buy a seat in Congress for a friend that he couldn’t win for himself. But this seat isn’t for sale,” Swalwell added. “It’s one gift money can’t buy.”

Swalwell seems proud of the CQ Roll Call story, as he has been sharing it via social media.

“Last yr voters told Pete Stark, ‘bye, bye!’ But he took it as ‘buy, buy!’ & says he’ll spend $15M to help my opponent,” Swalwell tweeted Thursday morning.

He also posted the story on his Facebook page. “The voters have moved on and this seat is not for sale. I promise to keep bringing new energy and ideas to Congress,” he wrote there.

Corbett has not yet returned a call and an e-mail seeking comment.

UPDATE @ 2:35 P.M.: “I have a broad coalition of support from throughout the district, from people who realize I have a superior record of achieving for the district, and that includes Congressman Stark,” Corbett said Thursday afternoon. “It seems that Eric is picking a fight with the former Congressman, but I’m running to offer voters a choice and I will be standing on my own record of public service to this district. After all, that’s what democracy is all about, and I look forward to the campaign.”

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.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    That cranky old fart! Maybe he can enlist RoKhall in his revenge. As for comrade Corbett, the end of Soviet rule was a blow to her ambitions.

  • Marga

    Unfortunately for Stark, Swalwell has a very good chance to be re-elected. I support Ellen, but I still haven’t felt a compelling reason why she should be elected over Eric.

    Eric is a dynamo, he’s everywhere, he is great at telling everyone what they want to hear, and he has relatively few votes under his belt, so no big compelling reasons to vote against him *now*. My bet is that given that Ellen has yet to differentiate herself from him, and that Eric is playing it smart, he’ll win in ’14 and ’16.

    I think the time to take him down will be ’18. He may be as energetic as a road runner now, but eventually he’ll have to slow down. He’ll want to date, maybe raise a family, and that means not being on the campaign trail 24-7, as he has during the last year.

    Meanwhile, he’ll have more votes to be accountable for and more people he has pissed off.

    Ultimately, you win again an incumbent by collecting enough groups of people who are disenchanted with him for whatever reason. We’re not there yet. I think we will be in 5 years.

  • JohnW

    Swalwell is in the House, where Democrats are irrelevant thanks to Bohener’s insistence on the so-called Hastert “majority of the majority” rule. So, how would we know if Swalwell is doing a good job or not. I think he is doing a good job, but what difference does it make?

  • Willis James

    Nice for Pete to, for the first time I can recall, admit to a basement number for his wealth.

    ““I know that Eric used to say that I had $30 million,” Stark said. “I wish he was correct. But I have at least half that much at my disposal, and so I intend to broadcast far and wide his ethics problems and his inexperience and his failure to accomplish much in the Congress.”

    So he has at least in excess of $15,000,0000.
    Nice to know with his $15 to 20+ millions that he has, plus his $188,000 congressional salary all those years, that he was still shrewd enough to collect Social Security for his three minor children over the past 17 years.
    That has left him with the ability to focus on his remaining millions and millions on the task of defeating the man who knocked him out of office.
    You know, that “rookie” he so easily dismissed.
    Corbett had better steer well clear of this bitter man’s anger and almost certain gaffes.

  • Richard Woulfe

    Stark was voted – repeatedly – one of the nations worst Congressman, that – as much as his gaffes in his final campaign – led to voters kicking him out of office. What kept Stark in office for decades wasn’t his good work – he was notoriously lazy and ineffective – was closed primaries and gerrymandered districts. Voters, wanting reform, got rid of the old system and now we have open primaries, the top two – regardless of party, face each other in the general.Voters want reform – not hyper-partisanship and stalemate in DC, the power tripping by hyper-partisans – like Stark – has to end, voters want problem solvers – not blowhard political hacks. Was there ever a bigger blowhard- hack than Stark? Eric Swalwell beat Stark, and he will beat Corbett too, he is part of a new generation of political leaders, leaders that want reform, I call it the get-it-done generation, no more hyper-partisanship, let’s solve problems, let’s put people back to work at decent wages. The old system, run by political consultants and special interest groups is crumbling, an aging hack like Stark can’t see it – but the younger generation of coming up can, like Eric Swalwell.

  • Richard Woulfe

    Who can forget Stark having his wife on his campaign payroll, the ethics of that just stinks, 60 minutes just didn’t a scathing segment on this odious practice of Congressman collecting money from special interest groups and then steering it to their wives or children via some phony baloney ” campaign committee”. This practice – currently legal – is just so unethical, especially in light of the fact many of these campaign “jobs” for the members relatives are of the “no show” type. Stuff like this is why Congress has 6% approval rating, also one of the reasons Stark is no longer a member. His ethics just stunk to high heaven. Swalwell, a straight shooting ex-prosecutor – is solid on ethics – which is why – among other reasons he will be re-elected, in my view.

  • Bill Spicer

    Pete Stark recommendation for Ellen Corbett is the kiss of death. They are both old school. I am voting for Eric….