Rep. Eric Swalwell

CONGRESS | 15TH DISTRICT | Noted congressional elections expert Stuart Rothenberg is also scratching his head over Rep. Eric Swalwell’s endorsement of presidential candidate Martin O’Malley.

Two weeks ago, I raised the idea that the announcement, from Swalwell’s standpoint, was a ploy to get him face time on the national level. Similarly, Swalwell used the same tactic earlier this year when he inserted his name on the long list of potential candidates to replace Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Swalwell, an Iowa native, even gave a speech there touting O’Malley. Rothenberg, though, in a column for Roll Call with the mocking title, “Stop the Presses: O’Malley Nabs Swalwell Endorsement,” looks at the even from another angle.

The O’Malley folks must know the Swalwell endorsement is meaningless in the grand scheme of things. They aren’t stupid. So why did they ask for it and why did they distribute it? 

I really don’t know. I’d guess the former governor’s staff has to do something to make it seem as if their candidate is gaining support, and the folks in the press, political and fundraising departments have to keep busy, especially if they are being paid. 

Press folks, in particular, do stuff that is a huge waste of time. Most of the emails campaigns send around to reporters accomplish little or nothing, but that doesn’t stop them from sending them out. So the O’Malley folks probably are doing things like sending out the Swalwell endorsement email because somewhere along the way they learned that’s the sort of thing they are expected to do. 

I’m sure that Swalwell, who defeated veteran Democratic Rep. Pete Stark in 2012, has a long and promising career ahead of him. His loyalty to O’Malley is noteworthy. But this endorsement is so unimportant in the Democratic race that I wouldn’t be writing about it if this wasn’t August of the off year. Maybe it’s all that the O’Malley campaign has.

The view from Rothenberg’s perspective shows just how little a fish Swalwell really is in Washington. And despite, the reverential press coverage Swalwell often enjoys in the Bay Area, his political backing has already shown to be near worthless.

Recall, Swalwell’s official endorsement last year of a reactionary candidate for Castro Valley’s admittedly meaningless sanitary district. It should have been a major boost to his candidacy. In the Fifteenth District, however, a sitting U.S. congressman’s endorsement won’t get you much. The candidate finished dead last.