Feb. 15, 2012 | Sorry for missing the opportunity for a Valentines-themed posting yesterday.

What is going on with the burgeoning bromance between Josh Richman of the Oakland Tribune and East Bay congressional candidate Eric Swalwell? Hubba hubba.

Is Richman merely promoting a potentially staid re-election campaign between Swalwell and Rep. Pete Stark or are other dynamics at work? Kissy kissy.

The elements of a good storyline are definitely here. At age 30, Swalwell is attempting a long-shot run as a Dublin Democrat against the nearly 40-year veteran of Congress. The roles they could play are shockingly similar to Stark’s own successful insurrection against Democrat Rep. George P. Miller, who like Stark today was aging not so gracefully.

Many, many things would need to occur from here to November for Stark to lose re-election. Almost all of them involve other candidates entering the field. You would almost have to cue Al Michaels’ “Do you believe in miracles?” call from the 1980 Olympics in an unironic manner to see this happening.

Then why so much love from the “Mighty Cravat” Richman?

Yesterday he detailed Stark’s eviction of KTVU cameras from his town hall last weekend in Hayward. In the article, Richman quoted Swalwell as say the incident was “another example of how Congressman Pete Stark is inaccessible to his constituents – and doesn’t seem to care.”
For a reporter, this is the political equivalent of Bill Belichick gifting a touchdown to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. Add to that, Swalwell’s assertion is nowhere near accurate.

Among members of Congress in the East Bay, I’m not aware of another who maintains a more consistent schedule of monthly town hall meetings, and in multiple venues. Last weekend’s meetings were held in Union City and Hayward. A month ago, he took questions in Fremont and San Lorenzo.

Aside from Stark’s odd behavior with a cameraman from KTVU, which may be show his fear of having his physical condition shown in HD more than anything, his town halls have always been an open forum for many who dislike his politcs over the years.

Then there’s this peculiar bit of circular logic from Richman in a Dec. 29 article on Swalwell:

Gotta say this for Eric Swalwell, the Dublin councilman taking on fellow Democrat and longtime incumbent Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, in 2012: He’s managing to get his message out.

Well, of course, because Richman is handing it out.

There would be no discussion if reporters like Richman truly followed what is going on in the East Bay. The Bay Area News Group, of course, is the outfit that laughably played catch-up on the two biggest political stories of the year–Mary Hayashi copping a plea to shoplifting and Nadia Lockyer entering rehab.

While others were on the beat watching it unfold, Richman and the Tribune were covering Swalwell handing out warm coffee to shoppers in line for Black Friday.


Here’s a little bill signed Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown that could have lasting effects on the state’s inaugural use this June 5 of the open primary system:

AB 1413 will force independent candidates to reveal their true political colors.

Timm Herdt in the Ventura County Star writes:

‘If a candidate is registered to vote as a Republican, he or she must list on the ballot “prefers Republican Party’.” The only way a candidate can be listed as “no party preference” is if he or she declines to state a party affiliation as a voter.

The original bill was authored by former state Sen. Abel Maldonado, who is planning a run for Congress.

The change, [Maldonado] noted, does protect against candidates attempting to fool voters by using an insincere party preference on the ballot. The integrity of the top-two system he led the charge to create, Maldonado said, remains intact. “It’s still an open primary where all people get to vote for the best candidate, so I’m OK with the change,” he said. “It still allows 3.5 million Californians (those registered as decline-to-state voters) a role in the primary. They don’t have to ask permission to get a ballot.

(This article is featured in today’s Fifty+One blog.)

Supplement stories in the EastBayCitizen by reading my new heavily updated blog “Fifty+One” ( covering the East Bay political scene featuring behind-the-scenes observations and pertinent rants and ravings. “Fifty plus one,” by the way is the winning electoral equation for all politicians.