ELECTION ’12//CONGRESS 15 NOTES
May 31, 2012 | With just days before voters in the new 15th congressional district head to the polls, Rep. Pete Stark is attempting to churn out the progressive vote with help from one of the few members of the House possibly more liberal than he is.
Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich is heading to Dublin this Sunday to rally the troops manning the phones at the local IBEW union hall in support of Stark against his upstart Democratic challenger Eric Swalwell and conservative-leaning Chris Pareja.
Kucinich’s help comes with more than a bit of irony. The long-time congressman lost the Ohio primary last March after redistricting pit him against fellow Democrat, Rep. Marcy Kaptur. The scenario is somewhat similar to the situation in California’s 15th where redistricting tacked a large number of voters from the Tri Valley area into Stark’s district.
The redrawn district is believed to be less liberal than two years ago when Stark garnered 75 percent of the vote. The state’s new top two primary system is also a great unknown in this race that may pit two Dems against each other.
HAGGERTY BACKS SWALWELL If Kucinich’s arrival only proves Stark’s progressive colors are dyed-in-the-wool, Swalwell’s ideology is still less than certain. If hobnobbing with law enforcement, kowtowing to wealthy Chinese land barons and hawkish foreign policy rhetoric backing Israel and drone attacks doesn’t make you question just how liberal Swalwell may actually be, he gained the endorsement this week of the East Bay’s last great Republican.
Alameda County District 1 Supervisor Scott Haggerty, just a few years ago, wore an “R” on his lapel until he switched allegiances to the Democratic Party. It makes sense for Swalwell, who is gambling, once he is branded a Blue Dog Democrat, it will not hurt his chances with more liberal voters in the western half of the district.
It’s a good endorsement for Swalwell to get, but most insiders still remember the Republican Haggerty and snicker when talking about the born-again Democrat Haggerty. The same can be said for another Swalwell backer, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy, another closeted Republican, who privately poses in Nancy Reagan’s famous bright red dresses. Cassidy’s endorsement is even more peculiar since San Leandro isn’t even in the 15th District any longer.
STARK IS A CHICKEN AND A DUCK? A common subject broached by local political consultants is whether Swalwell’s young and inexperienced campaign team has the talent and know how to run a grueling congressional campaign. Running for Congress is undoubtedly the big leagues. Although Stark has looked more like the wild-throwing Charlie Sheen character in “Major League,” the 80-year-old House vet can still throw very hard political pitches (you just don’t know if they will be down the middle or over the backstop).
Although, Swalwell has done remarkably well solely on Stark’s unforced errors, there is still some question whether it will be Swalwell, if he advances to the November general election, who may be the candidate who creates his own missteps down the stretch. Maybe he gave a preview last week of what is to come? Watch the video below and judge for yourself:
STARK’S FIGHT AGAINST DEMENTIA Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up. Rep. Pete Stark’s political team in Washington sent a press release Wednesday thanking Medicare and Medicaid for limiting the use of antipsychotic medicines for seniors suffering from dementia and living in nursing homes. “I’ve long been concerned that these patients are being give antipsychotics unnecessarily and I’m pleased that CMS has charted a path forward…,” Stark said.
Ok, we’re not going to go there, because Stark’s recent comments in his re-election campaign are not the mutterings of a man with dementia. I know, because, just as a lark, I asked a few people who work in health care about their opinions on the subject. They all unequivocally said, no. People make mistakes and everybody is forgetful sometimes.