ELECTION ’12//CONGRESS 15
May 14, 2012 | While appearing this morning on MSNBC, Dublin Councilman Eric Swalwell twice sidestepped a question of whether he would accept money from a Texas-based Super PAC, reportedly interested in shaping his race against Rep. Pete Stark.
MSNBC political analyst Chuck Todd said during an appearance by Swalwell on The Daily Rundown, that a Super PAC was considering “going big” in race in the 15th congressional district. When asked if he would accept the help of the group, reportedly named, Campaign for Primary Accountability, Swalwell responded, “We’re sticking to our message, Chuck” and added the recent spate of attacks by Stark was proof the 40-year congressman was feeling the heat. “You didn’t really answer the question,” pressed Todd, “so I’m taking you welcome it.”
“No, we’re going to stick to our own message,” Swalwell said. “As you know, we can’t coordinate with them and we’re confident that our message is going to be the one that is going to resonate with the voters and take us to victory in November.”
Even though, Swalwell’s campaign has previously touted the ability to “swing twice” at Stark in the new top two primary system in California, the reality is each at bat to unseat the incumbent will likely be financially costly for Swallwell. The last campaign finance figures showed Stark with over $550,000 cash in hand, as opposed to just under $100,000 for Swalwell.
The group reported by the Los Angeles Times with interest in helping unseat Stark is the Campaign for Primary Accountability. The Super PAC was founded by Texas construction executive Leo Linbeck III and backed primarily by interests, who in the past, have participated in rolling back health care provisions. Both Linbeck and another backer of the Super PAC, Eric O’Keefe, belonged to Health Care Compact Alliance, a group that proposed allowing states to void federal health care regulations, according to FactCheck.org. Other large contributors to the Super PAC, include, TD Ameritrade founder J. Joe Ricketts and Texas oilman Tim Dunn.
However, according to the site, the Super PAC has spent vastly more in opposing Republicans than Democrats since its founding in September 2011. But, given Stark’s extensive experience in backing health care reform, the group’s stated anti-incumbent leanings may be secondary to continuing their fight against one of the co-authors of the landmark health reform act.
[VIDEO OF SWALWELL ON MSNBC BELOW]
HOW FAR RIGHT WILL SWALWELL GO? Over 60 percent of the new 15th congressional district is theoretically new to Rep. Pete Stark. Theoretically, because if you are old enough, sometime over the past 30 years, the boundaries of Stark’s district have bobbed and weaved into the Tri Valley. These voters, according to conventional wisdom, are less liberal than Stark. At one point, former Rep. Ellen Tauscher represented a portion of the new 15th that included some of the Tri Valley into Castro Valley. Tauscher, who voted with fiercely independent Blue Dog Democrats, sometimes irritated progressives in the area with her brand of more conservative politics and her service on Capitol Hill may be a preview of a potential Rep. Swalwell administration.
In a live chat last Friday with the San Ramon Patch, Swalwell said he identified his politics with Tauscher, California State Superintendent Tom Torlakson and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Swalwell’s willigness to place himself in a box with Tauscher is a relatively new phenomenon. During a candidate’s forum last February in Dublin, he bristled when asked if Tauscher, whom he interned for as representative, correctly described his own brand of politics. It appears he now more comfortable with allowing Tauscher’s record to be used as yardstick for voters to measure against himself and the more liberal Stark.