In the two weeks since Rep. Eric Swalwell ended his presidential aspirations, the challenger with eyes on thwarting his re-election to Congress next year has not said definitely whether she will indeed attempt to primary the incumbent East Bay congressman.
Hayward Councilmember Aisha Wahab, however, has continued to campaign for the 15th Congressional District seat this month. Wahab announced her candidacy four days after Swalwell announced his bid for president on April 8.
A week ago, Swalwell and Wahab attended the Tri-Valley Democratic Club’s annual picnic. Both gave speeches to club members, and Wahab’s remarks gave all indications that she is still running for Congress, according to those in attendance.
Then, last week, Wahab appeared on The Young Turks Network’s “The Conversation” to discuss her candidacy. “The reason why I’m running is that people just don’t seem to get it when they’re policy makers and it’s about time many more of us step up at all levels of government,” Wahab said.
“Honestly, we were running knowing it was an open seat,” she added, before revealing that Swalwell has avoided her since he dropped back into the congressional race on July 8.
“You know that I’m still waiting for that phone call from him directly to have that conversation,” she said of the potential primary matchup.
“The reality is that he was running for president for more than the last three months,” Wahab said. Swalwell made his first of many appearances in Iowa sometime after President Trump was elected in December 2016.
Wahab told The Young Turks that housing, Medicare, and student-debt elimination, are among the issues she wants to help solve. “I’m not looking for the next year or two, or six months, or anything like that. I’m looking 20 years down the road for some of our issues.”
Wahab, 31, then quoted Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson with a jab meant to undermine Swalwell’s relative youth. Swalwell, 38, is less than a decade Wahab’s senior. Nonetheless, she added, “Just because you’re young, doesn’t mean you don’t have old ideas.”
Swalwell, however, remains popular in the district. It remains to be seen whether his sojourn into presidential political and the fact that he missed more than one-third of his votes in Congress over the past year has undermined some of that support.
He also remains flush with campaign contributions, according to finance reports released earlier this month. Swalwell can use his presidential cash reserves of more than $500,000 for his congressional campaign. The combined total is now more than $2 million.
Wahab reported just over $40,000 in cash on hand on $56,000 in contributions received in just three months, a promising start, but a significant deficit for any intra-party challenger facing an incumbent member of Congress.
But similar to Swalwell, Wahab could potentially use her congressional largess in other races. For example, perhaps a future run for the state Legislature? She cannot use the contributions for a local race in Hayward.
One rumored possibility for Wahab is Wieckowski’s 10th State Senate District seat, which covers areas from Castro Valley down to a sliver of San Jose. There’s one of two ways that seat could become available within the next three years.
Wieckowski could win the county supervisors race in November 2020 and trigger a special election in early 2021. Or, candidates for the seat could wait for Wieckowski to be termed out of office in 2022.