Latest Fundraising Totals In Contested 15th District Race Show Battle of Special Interests

ELECTION ’12//CONGRESS 15 | Campaign finance reports released this week continue to show a revealing trend in the contested intra-party race in the 15th Congressional District where large political action committees are funding the incumbent Rep. Pete Stark while high-dollar contributors with real estate interests are bankrolling the challenger Dublin Councilman Eric Swalwell.

Finance reports released Tuesday by the Federal Election Commission show the upstart Swalwell edged Stark in total fundraising during the latest period, from May 17 to June 30. However, the 40-year incumbent Stark still holds a sizable advantage in cash in hand heading into the final three months of the campaign.

Swalwell raised $115,917 in fundraising, while spending $87,625 with $79,474 in cash remaining. Meanwhile, Stark received $89,490 in campaign contributions, while listing $177,900 in expenditures and leaving a balance of $379,334.

In addition, two potential challengers for the seat in 2014 showed continued strength. Ro Khanna, the former assistant deputy secretary at the Commerce Department from Fremont continues to hover over the future of the seat. The latest fundraising reports lists Khanna with a sizable war chest of over $1.08 million.

Khanna’s prodigious fundraising streak earlier this year along with his desire to move to the front of the pack in 2014 has some East Bay Democrats wondering when and if Khanna will transfer some of those assets to Stark’s campaign this fall–should his chances for re-election be threatened. Many believe whether Stark wins or lose, this is his campaign swan song. State Sen. Ellen Corbett, another candidate eyeing 2014, also reported $105,871 in available cash ending June 30, according to campaign finance reports. 

When it comes to 2012, it is becoming clear special interests on both side are financing the race in the 15th Congressional District. A continuing suspicion among Democrat over Swalwell’s true ideology became more blurry as the number fundraising dollars from Tri Valley land developers continues to grow. In addition, top executives from the Houston-based energy firm Calpine contributed $8,500 in fundraising to Swalwell’s campaign in June, according to finance reports. Calpine CEO Jack Fusco donated $1,000 while its executive vice president, W. Thaddeus Miller, contributed $2,500, as did senior vice president Joseph Ronan and his wife; both giving $2,500 apiece.

Some members of the environmental community had already charged Swalwell with being unfriendly to open space in the Tri Valley area surrounding Doolan Canyon near Livermore. The support from Calpine’s top brass will not quell that perception and could potentially cause concern among Hayward voters, many of whom vehemently oppose the current construction of the Russell City Energy Center, a natural gas-fired power plant located on the Hayward shoreline.

Meanwhile, nearly all of Stark’s $89,000 in campaign contributions during this past filing period came from 42 separate political action committees with donations ranging from $1,000 to $2,500. The list of special interests consist of many of the same liberal groups that have long backed Stark’s previous campaigns. They include PACs seeking to preserve social security and Medicare, labor unions and a slew of health care-related organizations and doctors groups. The support of health care and medical groups is not surprising since Stark has long held a seat on the House Ways and Means health sub-committee. A $4,000 contribution was also made by the California Federation of Teachers in June.

The introduction of the super PAC, Campaign for Primary Accountability into the race as an independent expenditure on Swalwell’s behalf is still rumor, according to the latest reports. The group, funded by three Texas oil tycoons, raised the possibility of pouring money into the race to unseat Stark. A source told The Citizen the group’s expenditure, if used in the East Bay, could be in the range of $100,000. However, the backers of the super PAC plead poverty in a story last month in The Washington Post

May 17-June 30
STARK…..$ 89,490..$177,900..$379,334
SWALWELL..$115,917..$ 87,625..$ 79,474

Categories: Calpine, campaign finance, CD15, congress, environment, Eric Swalwell, Hayward, Pete Stark, special interests, super pacs, Tri Valley

16 replies

  1. Unless a lot more money comes in, it doesn't appear either candidate will be doing much, if any, television.
    Look for a minimum of a dozen mailers from Pete.
    No make that 20.

    Swalwell better get really creative with his limited money.

    Look for a Hayward mailbox to fill up quickly.
    Stark, Swalwell, Quirk, Ong, Hayashi, Green, Valle.
    No doubt some mailers will be keepers, suitable for framing.

    There should be a contest with several categories.
    -Most outrageous
    -Most distorted
    -Most effective


  2. More likely being 'framed!'


  3. Candidates taking money from special interests. I'm shocked.


  4. If Stark wins, the machine wins. More of the same do nothing politics from this area will continue and Democrats in this area will continue to be ashamed of our Represenatives. We need a fresh start.

    If you want things to start getting done in Congress, vote Swalwell, he will start to change things.


  5. Swalwell managed to put a real grassroots race together, and he did it successfully in the face of the party and union machines. Means he's genuinely resonating with voters.

    Let's hope Swalwell wins.

    Otherwise we have to deal with Ro Khanna in two years. Just another superficial guy in a suit and and tie.


  6. Senator Ellen Corbett has already declared her candidacy for 2014.


  7. Vote CHANGE! Vote Swalwell!

    We need to put in a new member of Congress who will be willing to tell us we can't have the Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs our parents and grandparents have had. Swalwell has the leadership and courage to slash those programs so that we can lower tax rates for rich people, the real job creators.

    Pete Stark thinks that our social safety net programs are vital investments to maintain a healthy middle class. Stark believes it is right to make necessary expenditures so that the richest country in the history of the world is not burdened by people suffering from malnutrition and preventible illnesses.

    What an old man! Pete needs to get out of the way so a new CongressMAN can start making the parasitic elderly pull their own weight.



  8. Yeah, go Pete!

    Not a empty suit like Swalwell?
    No way, Pete is a empty flannel shirt.
    A cranky flannel shirt, at that.


  9. 10:32

    Go Swalwell.


  10. You want to send a little league pitcher up against the big leagues? Stalwell will get swallowed up by the sharks on Capital Hill. If he had tea party support or some other advocates it would be different. I say hang on to Pete especially in this Obamacare era to see it through and let him retire gracefully in two years.


  11. 9:20. Oh yeah, send Pete back for 2 more years.
    The folks in DC, including the sharks, really respect him…right, about 20 years ago.
    About letting him retire gracefully. That horse already left the barn about 7 months ago.


  12. 9:20 pm = Yogi Chugh, nice to see you here.
    Please find another job other than being Ro Khanna's wing man. Keeping Pete Stark around is not the answer. He's been in Congress for over 40 years, and in an institution where seniority rules, Stark has nothing to show for his 4 decades in Congress, passed up for leadership positions time and time again.

    And locally, Stark hasn't lifted a finger to help. He doesn't even pretend to live here anymore.

    Swalwell is a fresh young Democrat, willing to work hard, engage local residents, and do the heavy lift. Let's give him a chance.


  13. Go Swalwell!

    I'm paying too many damn taxes- the Federal tax is illegal! A big part of the problem is disabled and old people. Their families should take care of them- get out of my wallet!

    And what about all these new lazy people who were created by the economy crash? New millions who can just sit at home and eat FunYuns on my dime. People who lost their engineering job claim they can't take a job at Wal-Mart because they wouldn't be able to afford their mortgage?


    And those who claim they can't find a job? LiesLiesLies! There's jobs everywhere, everywhere I tell you. I want Swalwell in there- he'll work with the Republicans in the House to end that damn Ponzi scene called Social Security. We almost took it away from greedy Americans in 2005. If Swalwell had been their instead of Stark, our Social Security might be in the hands of the stock market, where it belongs.



  14. 4:09, Now that is one dumb post.

    Sounds like it was written by a loyal Stark supporter.

    The only question in the campaign is will Stark engage in even one debat or forum?
    I think he and his campaign staff are too scared about letting him appear at anything were he has to speak off-the-cuff.

    Rather embarassing.


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