Prelude to 2014: Rep. Eric Swalwell and State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett greet each other Mar. 21 at the Eden Area United Democratic Campaign St. Patrick’s Day dinner in Hayward.

PHOTO/Shane Bond

ALAMEDA COUNTY//DEMOCRATS | The Eden Area United Democratic Campaign St. Patrick’s Day dinner served as the backdrop for the first encounter between congressional opponents that will likely be best remembered for the limp corned beef and cabbage served. Despite the event being set closer to Easter than St. Patrick’s day it didn’t matter because while the Irish fare lacked seasoning so did the first encounter between Rep. Eric Swalwell and his likely 2014 opponent in the 15th Congressional District, State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett.

Little occurred as Corbett introduced Swalwell, admittedly 30 minutes late for the function that put her in the position of stalling the crowd after Assemblyman Rob Bonta energetically bounced onto the stage, gave a few impromptu words and leaped away. San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy, trying to show his liberal cred, walked around with an Obama ball cap atop his curly Irish fro.

“Thank you for the filibuster,” said Swalwell upon his arrival. The young Tri-Valley Democrat curiously jumped straight into a campaign speech heard many times the past six months that now includes his short list of accomplishments on Capitol Hill. Swalwell’s ability to swoon Democrats on “this side of the hill” is crucial to re-election. The perceived more liberal side of the district looks warily at what kind of Democrat Swalwell really strives to be. However, with that in mind, the inclusion in his stump speech of working in a bipartisan manner, was curious and potentially a glimpse into his mind on political cruise control. In fact, this group of hardcore Democrats does not think working in a bipartisan way is possible with an uncompromising GOP and wholly distasteful to deal with the orange-tinged android named Rep. John Boehner.

Swalwell talks to Hayward Democrats Mar. 21. PHOTO/Shane Bond

Among the chatty and catty Alameda County Democrats last Thursday there was some talk of The Citizen’s interview with Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) who said he be “open” to supporting a challenger for Swalwell if the moderate didn’t join the Progressives. Even though Ellison scrambled to soften the edge of the comments last week (he called Swalwell “a friend”) the sentiment by such a high-profile progressive seemed to harden already deep skepticism over Swalwell’s Progressive credentials.One Democrat told The Citizen Ellison’s words could be a boon for Corbett to win over potential donors looking to fund the more liberal candidate.

After the group of speeches (State Treasurer Bill Lockyer was also in attendance and, no, Nadia was not there) Corbett and Swalwell could be seen chatting with Democrats in two spheres which never seem to have crossed orbits. While most have known Corbett for years from her time as San Leandro mayor to representing the area in the State Legislature since 1998, Swalwell’s demeanor looked stuffy and unsure. In addition, he now travels in these parts, at least, with a posse of Tri-Valley acolytes who seem to wear their tighty-whiteys a size or two too small. On numerous occasions, a few appeared to feign interest in the constituent’s comments to Swalwell, while casting a sharp eye on whom may be plotting to ambush him with an unscripted question.

In short, there was mushy corned beef eaten by Democrats four days after St. Patrick’s Day in a musty hall near a shuttered Banchero’s Restaurant. Corbett and Swalwell shook hands, Bill left Nadia at home and whole bunch of bitchy Democrats furnished me with loads of gossip totally unrelated to the race for congress two years hence, yet all together pertinent to their own designs for knocking down political rivals a peg or two or maybe even three. This is how we roll in the East Bay.