County Democratic Chair Laments The Loss Of Progressive Standard Bearer Stark

CONGRESS 15 | Even as election returns Tuesday night in the 15th Congressional District race between Rep. Pete Stark and Eric Swalwell slowed to snail’s pace, but showed little hope for the incumbent’s return to Capitol Hill. The chair of the Alameda County Democratic Party Robin Torrello, though, was still holding out hope. “My glass is always half-full,” she said at the party’s headquarters in Hayward.

But, the sense the East Bay was about to lose its most decorated progressive voice was quickly setting in. “I feel sorry for him,” said San Leandro Councilman Jim Prola. “He did a lot of good things for San Leandro. Pete did so much for the people of this district and more than people give him credit for.”

Others were not as kind when it came to the new Congressman-elect Swalwell with much of it already centered on 2014. “He’s going to have a target on his back,” said one Democratic Party volunteer. “John Boehner is going to come up to him and thank him for what he did.” Another added, at least initially, Swalwell will be more popular among conservatives than his own party for nothing more than slaying one of their most vitriolic opponents.

Torrello also voiced support for Stark’s long legacy while taking aim at Tri Valley business interests and the woeful performance of the local media in this race. “This man has done so much for the community,” she said, while ticking off his role in drafting health care reform legislation, instituting COBRA and bringing billions in federal dollars to the county for transportation, schools and infrastructure. “The whole Tri Valley couldn’t have been built without him, including those business parks that gave money to Swalwell. What did they do? They turned their back on Pete.”

Referring to the seat’s precipitous drop in seniority under Swalwell, Torrello said the district will struggle to maintain its current place in line when it comes to federal dollars. “The spigot is closed,” she said.

She also faulted the local media for failing to focus on the issues or examining Swalwell’s record. “When you run a campaign on lies and innuendo and the media only covers the sensationalism rather than the facts, we all lose.” She said instances of Swalwell’s pay-to-play past in the Tri Valley were well known, but neglected by the media, as was the falsehood repeated by Swalwell that Stark was habitually absent from the district despite consistently holding town hall meetings every month for years. “Name another congressman who meets with their constituents more than him?”

As the clock passed midnight, leaving Election Night in the rearview, one of the likely participants in the race to make Swalwell a one-term congressman briskly walked into headquarters. Her name: Ellen Corbett.

Categories: 2014, CD15, congress, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, Jim Prola, John Boehner, obamacare, Pete Stark, Robin Torello, san leandro, Tri Valley

7 replies

  1. Robin Torrello lives in a dream world, blaming everybody but Pete and Pete's campaign team for this loss. He/they blew it from the beginning of the primary, right through to November 6th.

    Tell me, how many days out of the last 100 was Pete in the district?
    How many meetings did he attend where the public could ask him public qestions?
    Everyone knows the campaign was hiding Pete.

    You gonna blame the Tri Valley business interests for making Pete stay out of the public eye?
    Or the media for narrowing in on the few bits they get when Pete chose to stick his head out the door?

    No, the problem with his campaign was that he chose to run and the party chose to pressure everyone else to stay out. Better to look in the mirror to find fault.


  2. I like and respect Robin, but she is wrong in this case. Both Stark and Swalwell are back benchers (remember Stark being passed over for Ways and Means chair because of his inability to get along with others). We are just trading in an 80 year old for a 31 year old. Both will vote 95% plus party line.


  3. By MW:

    Altho I myself have never been a big admirer of Pete Stark, however for those who have been, still it is impossible to deny that he has slipped a great deal in recent years.

    In other words even for those who considered him to have been an all star back when he was in his prime, the fact remains that he has slipped so much mentally in recent years, and which is not surprising considering his age, that now he is not even capable of performing at the level of an extremely mediocre utility infielder. So it was time he retired.


  4. Pete got by daughter tickes (we're from SL) to Wash DC office and sessions – his staff were outstanding! Although I have a philosophical difference with atheists, I do admire progressive representatives with many accomplishments under their belt who solicit constant feedback from their constituents – even if they're only at 80% ? So far, what I've heard about Eric Stalwell is not very hopeful – what about those tri-valley contractors and construction ventures – were they lining his political or power pocket? What does he stand for? Hope I'm wrong – but I usually don't trust white jocks with no track record who schmooze their way in – we'll see…


  5. 10:51 pm

    “but I usually don't trust white jocks “

    “but I usually don't trust black ______”

    “but I usually don't trust Hispanic _____”

    “but I usually don't trust Asian ______”

    Yeah, I know what you mean, take your eye off them for a minute and they're doing what they always do.


  6. As a leftward leaning Democrat who is aligned with the party, my first instinct is not have much support for Swalwell. There's a strong chance that the Dems and labor will not support him in 2014. He may NOT be a strong incumbent.

    However, he did win this election fair and square. He deserves a honest chance to show us what he's got. I've got about 18 months to decide whether I think his performance merits my support, or whether I'll be deciding on which of his opponents to support. Only time will tell.


  7. Pete was a great advocate for us. So sad he lost. Swallow was a soccer coach. Yay.


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