ELECTION ’12//CONGRESS 15//ANALYSIS | The impetus for the Citizens United attack this week by Dublin Councilman Eric Swalwell came from comments made this week by Rep. Pete Stark following a endorsement meeting for the Alameda County Democratic Lawyers Club.
“I was pleased to have the opportunity to address members of the Alameda County Democratic Lawyers Club and to express my long-standing opposition to Citizens United and big money in politics,” Stark said Wednesday on Facebook.
During the primary season, the group supported Swalwell, also an Alameda County deputy district attorney. However, lost in the campaign scrum this week over Citizens United, was the pulling of the group’s backing from Swalwell to a non-endorsement.
The loss of support from Swalwell’s brethren is definitely a setback for his campaign, but also raises another consistent question about his temperment and readiness for the extreme rigors of the Beltway.
According to witnesses of the Alameda County lawyers endorsement process, Swalwell’s performance was flat and uneven with a tinge of fear. It would not be the first time his performance has perplexed audience members. In situations where the audience is perceived to be friendly to Swalwell, he appears confident, well-spoken and highly competent on the issues. However, when he wears his road grays outside of Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore and San Ramon, Swalwell becomes a very unsure, uncompelling and, afterwards, almost petulant young candidate.
This dichotomy was uniquely evident Thursday night at a Swalwell event in Hayward featuring a discussion of the issues facing the district’s sizable Latino community. Although, the forum was outside of Swalwell’s Tri Valley stronghold, his stump speech was clear and well-delivered. The small group of about 30 people were quite supportive of Swalwell as he laid out his positions advocating a path to citizenship and referring to immigrants as “aspiring citizens.”
However, when Hayward school board President Jesus Armas (of all people!) sternly questioned Swalwell, the candidate crumbled. “Eric, do you say the same things on other other side of the hill?” asked Armas. Swalwell, though, did not directly answer the question, leading Armas to repeat it. “I do,” Swalwell finally said and challenged voters to boot him out of Congress in two years, if he fails to keep his promises regarding immigration. “But, they look at us differently over there,” then blurted Hayward Councilman Mark Salinas, but received no response from Swalwell.
In the end, it begs the question of which Swalwell might voters send to Washington? The one who rises to the occasion at friendly galas or the one who shrinks from the angry mob?