Swalwell for Senate? It isn’t a crazy idea

THE FLOAT: Rep. Eric Swalwell says he
may have interest in running for U.S. Senate.

U.S. SENATE | He isn’t serious? Is he?

While some of the biggest names in California politics are believed to be interested in replacing U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who announced her retirement last week, there were hints dropped by Rep. Eric Swalwell that he might be angling for a promotion.

His office told Politico last Friday: “Today, Congressman Swalwell is celebrating Senator Boxer’s service to California’s families and environment. Congressman Swalwell remains focused on his work to bring new energy and ideas to Congress. Any decision about the future will come at a later time.”

Swalwell’s name has not been in the mix of potential candidates, which include, State Attorney General Kamala Harris, Treasurer John Chiang, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, current Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, SoCal Rep. Loretta Sanchez and wealthy environmental activist Tom Steyer, but not Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Since much of Swalwell’s first-term was predicated on marketing the idea he is a young, hard-working, tech-savvy leader through ebullient features in the San Francisco Chronicle and numerous media appearances to burnish said image, his interest in the job is likely meant to raise his profile.

Nonetheless, Swalwell’s over ambition is clearly evident and it has long been my prediction he would attempt a run at the U.S. Senate much earlier than later. Albeit, not this early, but his hubris is uncontrollable. Recall, on the day he was sworn-in to office for the first time in January 2013, Swalwell responded to a interviewer’s almost jokey question of whether he would run for president one day. Swalwell didn’t laugh off the query and gave a vague answer usually reserved for the Jeb Bush’s off the political landscape.

But, say, Swalwell’s interest is genuine, because there is actually a plausible path for the second-term congressman, if you apply his 2012 upset of Pete Stark to this race.

There are strange similarities, indeed, especially if the Democratic Party establishment moves to clear the field, most likely for Harris. Many East Bay politicos believe the key to Swalwell’s win was the absence of any other challengers to Stark. In this case, the Alameda County Democratic Party, through Stark’s insistence, unwittingly helped Swalwell by dissuading Ellen Corbett and Ro Khanna to sit out the race.

In addition, based on the early list of potential candidates, Swalwell would likely be the most moderate of the group. His predilection toward making Republicans feel comfortable with him was the electoral key to his 2012 victory. In the 15th Congressional District, Swalwell commands electoral superiority because he carries the Democratic Party moniker while seeking campaign contributions from wise conservatives who accept one of their own will never seat in that seat. Therefore, Swalwell is their least worst bet.

Now, whether Swalwell would help or hinder his political career by applying this strategy on the statewide level is debatable. The Chronicle wouldn’t mind, but other media outlets will likely pick up on the potential that Swalwell possesses in coming years for dialing the state’s dominant strain of liberalism. And nowhere on this list of potential competitors is a candidate like Stark who could implode at a moment’s notice.

There’ s no doubt Swalwell has a fair amount of naivete when it comes to governance, but one thing is clear, he currently has lady luck on his side and he sure knows how to run an insurgent campaign. That’s a pretty good start.