CA15: Corbett mailer takes aim at Swalwell

State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, has a new mailer in the field for her bid to unseat Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, taking aim at the freshman congressman’s experience and bona fides.

The mailer contrast “Eric Swalwell – not ready for Congress” – with less than one Dublin City Council term prior to his 2012 election to the House, his pro-development votes on that council, the Republican votes he took in his 2012 election, and his lowest ranking among Bay Area liberals from the National Journal – to “Ellen Corbett – 2 decades of leadership on progressive Democratic issues,” from her time as a San Leandro councilwoman and mayor to three terms in the Assembly and two in the state Senate.

Click to enlarge:
Corbett mailer - front

Corbett mailer - inside1

Corbett mailer - inside2

Corbett mailer - rear

Corbett appears to be off the mark in concluding that “of the 10 Democrats representing the Bay Area, Swalwell has, by far, the worst record on progressive issues.” According to the National Journal’s 2013 vote rankings, both Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, and Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, came in less liberal/more conservative than Swalwell.

Also, if some of these attacks on Swalwell sound familiar, it’s because Pete Stark attacked his relative inexperience, his GOP support and his Dublin City Council votes in 2012.

And Corbett’s mailer says “Swalwell is supported by the Washington, D.C. Democratic Party leadership” while Corbett “is endorsed by our local Democratic Clubs, representing grassroots, progressive activists here in our community.” True, though Swalwell won the California Democratic Party’s endorsement as well as those of the Tri-Valley Democratic Club and the Contra Costa Young Democrats – not as many local groups as Corbett lists on her mailer, but grassroots nonetheless.

Meanwhile, Swalwell is holding a fundraiser Wednesday night in San Francisco, headlined by Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, D-Mass., with tickets ranging from $50 to $1,000.

UPDATE @ 11:39 A.M.: Corbett is holding a campaign meet-and-greet this Saturday evening, May 17 at the Hayward home of former Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele; it’s billed as an “important conversation about the future of our nation.” And Corbett also is flexing the muscle of her labor-union support, inviting backers to join her for phone banking on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons/evenings at the Alameda County Labor Council office in Oakland and on Wednesday and Thursday evenings from the United Food and Commercial Workers hall in Hayward.

UPDATE @ 10:35 P.M.: Corbett takes issue with my analysis.

“McNerney is not a Bay Area representative. His district is based in Stockton and Lodi,” she wrote to me in an email this evening. That’s true, but his 9th Congressional District still includes almost 86,000 registered voters in Contra Costa County, so I usually include him among Bay Area members; clearly she does not.

Corbett also disputed my noting that Swalwell isn’t the most conservative member of the Bay Area delegation. In her email, she provided ratings not only from the National Journal but also from the American Civil Liberties Union, Progressive Punch and Peace Action West which – when averaged together – indicate that he is. “Swalwell is clearly the least progressive member of the Bay Area Congressional caucus,” she wrote.

This may be true, but her mailer cited only the National Journal as a source; by that standard, Swalwell is rated 86th most liberal in the House, Zoe Lofgren is ranked 99th and McNerney is ranked 171st.

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.

  • Marga

    Josh, if you’re quoting Corbett correctly (and I’m not looking at the PDFs, so I’m taking your words): she said “lowest ranking among Bay Area liberals” not “lowest ranking among Bay Area Democrats”. McNerney is a Democrat but not at all a liberal. I haven’t followed Lofgren’s policies, except on the NSA issue – where she’s definitely a liberal. But I do notice that that scale doe not include something which is core to the liberal political philosophy: a commitment to civil liberties. In that sense, it’s pretty messed up.

    As for Swalwell winning the Democratic Party endorsement – he did it by barely getting over 50% of the votes, and then only after paying for people to go and cast them.

    BTW, don’t knock the fact that Corbett is using the same arguments that Stark used. Remember that he *only* reason why Swalwell was able to make it past the June primaries in 2012 and compete against Stark on the November general election is that there was no Republican candidate in the ballot. This is not the case now. If Corbett is able to retain Stark’s primary votes from 2012 (which is a HUGE *if*, but that’s why she’s reading his script) and the Republican candidate can get most of the votes that went to Republicans in the June 2010 election, Swalwell could actually not make past-two in June.

    That’s Corbett’s best chance of winning the election. If Swalwell makes it past June, he’ll win in November.

  • Corbett’s mailer (as pictured above) describes Swalwell as “the most conservative Democrat from the Bay Area” according to the National Journal rankings, but that’s not what the National Journal rankings say. I’m not making a judgment on the accuracy of those rankings.

    I’m not knocking Corbett’s use of Stark’s arguments; I’m
    merely noting that they’re not new.

  • Marga

    Ah, fair enough. She could have modified it to “East Bay” and been accurate (I don’t know that Mcnerney’s district is actually the bay area)

  • JohnW

    At the time, I also thought it was absurd that a half-term city councilman and junior county prosecutor should be able to replace Pete Stark. I voted for Stark in hopes of saving the seat for a more competitive “open seat” contest in 2014.

    Problem with all that is that it is old news. Swalwell got the gig. He is doing a great job (as good as any member of the House minority can do under rules that give the minority very little influence). Corbett has no compelling argument for taking his place.

  • Elwood

    My, the ladies are desperate, aren’t they?

  • Elwood

    I have heard some BS in my time but Marga’s pimping for Corbett ranks right up there near the top.

  • Guest

    Eric Swalwell has done fine job as Congressman, he deserves to be re-elected. I myself am impressed with Swalwell’s work ethic – this guy is a workhorse like no other. He’s getting a lot work done, which wasn’t the case with Pete Stark, who was a lazy spoiled rich guy. Stark was drawing down a huge Congressional salary and not bothering to even work! Instead of having a goldbrick as a Congressman, constituents in the 15th district now have a Congressman who takes his job seriously – wants to do great work – and is delivering to his constituents – all day, every day.
    Another reason, I think, to keep Swalwell’s in office – along with his great work ethic – is Swalwell’s integrity and honesty. As an ex-prosecutor he understands ethics – you can bet the farm Swalwell will always do the right thing – all of the time. You can contribute money to Swalwell’s re-election effort, but all you are going to get is good government from Eric Swalwell.
    Ethics, of course has been a major problem in the California State Senate, a body that Ellen Corbett has headed up up as Majority leader. It’s gotten so bad members now have to take ethics classes, because so many can’t seem to tell the difference between a bribe and a campaign contribution! You’ve got members being prosecuted for vote-selling, perjury, gun running, which has led to near weekly FBI raids. Voters, understandably, are calling the state Senate a cesspool of corruption. Corbett – apparently – never noticed all this corruption going on – she had her blinders on I guess. Or maybe she just looked the other way.
    Now – somewhat laughably, Corbett is touting “experience” as her selling point. I don’t think running the California State Senate into the ground is much of a selling point! I mean she’s touting her experience as her fellow State Senators are being carted off to jail. I myself am old enough to remember when the California State Legislature was considered the model legislature in the US – were talking late 60’s, early 70’s, the days of State Senator George Miller and Assemblyman Jack Knox. Those guys were great, all they wanted to do was be fighters for the middle class, the working class and the poor, and they were. But here it is 2014 and the legislature has become cesspool of corruption – huge sums of money flowing in and out of members campaign accounts – astronomical amounts of money – which has led to all this corruption. Given all this, I like this ethical ex-prosecutor Eric Swalwell – he deserves to be re-elected in the 15h district – we need people in office who will do the right thing, all of the time.

  • Marga

    You are absolutely right. Eric is so great that I heard that the Pope was actually going to wave the “death” requirement for saints, and beatify him.

    On a more serious note, whom do you think falls for such obvious – and anonymous – propaganda?

  • Marga

    We are now arguing over minutia.

    And, btw, if I was actually pimping for Corbett I’d do a much better job.

    I don’t because, while I support her as a better alternative to Swalwell, she has yet to stick her neck up on the issues that really concern me (civil liberties, accountability and transparency).

  • Guest

    Senator Corbett has been an advocate for diversity, which you can clearly see in her district office, unlike that of Congressman Swalwell where his office isn’t a great example of his district’s diversity. In my opinion, Swalwell represents Big Corporations taking bribes and infringing on our privacy by voting in favor of the Federal Government to search our web histories and cell phone data.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    Such is the prestige of the State Senate, many voters don’t know Corbett nor do they know of her accomplishments. Come to think of it, what are her accomplishments?

  • Elwood

    “taking bribes”?

    That’s an extremely serious allegation.

    My opinion is that you are a loony, or a plant for Corebett, which amounts to the same thing.

  • Last I checked, @SLtalk:disqus, Antioch and the rest of East Contra Costa County represented by Congressman Jerry McNerney considers itself part of the Bay Area.

  • Marga

    And I consider myself young. I’m sure many others would disagree 🙂

  • JohnW

    Hard to convince the voters that Swalwell is “not ready for Congress” when he is already there and getting a lot of positive notice in both local and national media.

  • Will Osuna

    If Eric Swalwell is one of the least progressive of Bay Area Congressional representatives, then that is another reason to vote for him.

  • Marga

    And many conservatives heard that message in 2012 and voted for them. Then Swalwell went on to become a Pelosi minion and pretty much follow her lead. Now, that’s pretty conservative from my point of view, given that Pelosi long sold out the liberal part of the party, but between a Pelosi-wannabe and a Repubican, but will bonafide conservatives do?

  • Elwood

    Incoherent. Try again.

  • JohnW

    Pelosi a conservative Democrat. Who knew?

  • Also heard @SLtalk:disqus considers herself a “lawyer” despite having never passed the California bar exam….

  • Marga

    Wow! The Swalwell campaign has to be desperate if they’re now not just attacking Corbett, but me. And with claims from EastBayCitizen, no less! Let’s talk about reaching for bottom.

    Might your little remark have anything to do with my recommendation to vote for Ellen?:

    “Ellen is quiet but she’s a work horse, passing legislation that protects consumer rights and the environment. Her opponent, sitting Congressman Eric Swalwell, is a show horse with one intention only: remain in Congress at every cost, no matter how many ethical lines are crossed (including paying for delegates to vote for him and using congressional mail for campaign purposes). He has voted against civil liberties and opposes religious equality.”

    Sure, normally not too many people might see my voter guide (http://sanleandrotalk.voxpublica.org/2014/05/20/margas-june-2014-voter-guide/ ), but after Matier & Ross mentioned my blog yesterday, traffic was so great that it was actually brought down for a while . Hayashi and Swalwell are cut from the same cloth, people disgusted at the former, may not look that kindly on the latter.

  • Elwood

    Marga dear, you are seriously delusional.

    I am willing to bet money that Swalwell will be returned to Congress. Escrow can be arranged.

    Care to play?

  • Marga

    I am not willing to bet one way or the other, not having seen any poll numbers. I’m just noting that when a campaign starts using dirty tactics, not just against an opponent, but against the opponent’s supporters – it’s because they are in crisis mode. It doesn’t mean they will lose, but it does mean they are afraid they will.

    Just think about Bonta. He went for Guillen’s jugular when I would have guessed he was going to win easily – and he did win, but only by 2K votes or so. He knew something that I didn’t know, just as Swalwell does now. I’m just guessing it’s that he’s not polling well.

  • Elwood

    Some of your perceptions are unique.

  • Not affiliated with or employed by Congressman Eric Swalwell or his campaign. Just an aware voter, who doesn’t like politicians — like Ellen Corbett — and their supporters — like @SLtalk:disqus — spreading falsehoods about good Democrats like Congressman Swalwell.

  • Marga


    You post comments under a photo of Steven Tavares, thus implying you rae him, and yet you’ve denied that’s who you are. I think you enjoy falsehoods – when they support you or your candidates.

    In any case, as long as you post anonymously we only have your word about whether you work for Swalwell, and the paragraph above shows how much that’s worth.

  • JohnW

    Corbett claims to have owned or managed a small business. Anybody know what that was?

  • Elwood

    Hot clothing?

  • She managed her own client base while working in her family’s law firm.