CONGRESS 15 | For Chris Pareja, it’s better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. The conservative-leaning former 15th Congressional District candidate, who impressed many with his strong primary performance June 5, says his former opponent, Eric Swalwell, “lacks ethics and maturity to represent the district,” and urged his supporters not to vote for Swalwell in November.

“I cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone who voted for me support Eric in his campaign for the House of Representatives,” Pareja said in a statement released Thursday.

Although he did not endorse Rep. Pete Stark, Pareja did not exactly praise the long-time East Bay congressman. “I may not agree with Congressman Stark on most issues–but his service to the community and the country should be respected,” said Pareja.

“I believe Eric lacks the life experience and character to effectively represent this district. I also wonder whether he has a firm grasp of the proper role of the federal government or where the money will come from to implement the promises he is already beginning to make.”

Pareja, in fact, said in an interview Thursday afternoon that he believes in some ways Stark is more conservative than Swalwell and lamented the new open primary system that produced two like-minded candidates in November. “These are two choice that I don’t like,” Pareja said, “but I feel Eric has no ethics and lacks maturity. His whole thing is being anti-Pete and that Pete is out of step. Well, I think Eric is out of step with reality.”

While admitting some in the media may find his announcement outside the narrative of anti-incumbent fervor often presented, Pareja says his first-hand experience watching Swalwell has raised troubling questions for his group of supporters, some of which tend to enjoy sips from the cup of the Tea Party. Many of his conservative supporters are naturally skeptical of government overreach and especially find Swalwell’s stances on property rights disconcerting, he says “He’s on the wrong side,” said Pareja, who noted Swalwell’s past support for land developers during his time on the Dublin planning commission and city council.

Pareja’s rise earlier this month is one of the least reported stories of the local primary season. The nearly 22 percent of the vote he received represents an astonishing performance accomplished with little name-recognition and built upon only a few thousand dollars. Pareja now has political cache among East Bay conservatives and appears willing to use it in a race where a larger presidential voter turnout and a disaffected voting bloc–which he represents–will likely be deciding factors.