Eric Swalwell Defeats 20-Term Congressman Pete Stark

The 31-year-old politician from Dublin has beat one of the most influential Bay Area political leaders of the past 40 years.

Update 1:30 a.m.

In what was almost unthinkable a year ago, Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell appears to have defeated Rep. Pete Stark to become the congressman for the 15th Congressional District.

Swalwell had 53 percent of the vote to Stark's 47, with about 99 percent of the precincts reporting.

At about 11:50 p.m., Swalwell told his supporters he believes he is the winner of race.

A victory for the 31-year-old Swalwell ends the political career of Stark, one of the most influential Bay Area liberal political figures of the last 40 years.

"It was 11 years ago when I was an unpaid intern in Washington," Swalwell told over 100 supporters at the Deputy Sheriffs' Association of Alameda County in Pleasanton. "I worked at a gym in the morning and would give congressmen towels. At night, I worked at a restaurant and would often serve members of Congress. Now I look forward to working with them."

After taking oath in January, Swalwell will be the second youngest Democratic member of Congress. He will represent the newly drawn district, which stretches from San Ramon down to Fremont and east past Livermore.

His rise from the Dublin City Council to the U.S. House Representatives wasn't expected by many.

Most of the Democratic establishment, including House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama, backed 19-term congressman Stark in the race.

But Swalwell was able to take advantage of California's new top-two primary system, where the first and second place winners in the primary — no matter the political party — compete in the general election.

With Stark being one of the most liberal members of Congress, Swalwell likely was more appealing to conservative voters in the district.

Stark, 80, was also his own worse enemy at times in the campaign. He made unfounded accusations, including accusing Swalwell of bribery in a debate during the primary campaign. He later apologized for the claim.

In the General Election, Stark declined to debate.

Speaking to supporters on Tuesday, Swalwell emphasized that he will work across the aisle and tirelessly for his new constituents.

Stark was not available for comment late Tuesday night.

Update 10:20 p.m.

It wasn't a victory speech, but Eric Swalwell Tuesday night sounded like he expects to be the congressman for the 15th Congressional District.

"It was 11 years ago when I was an unpaid intern in Washington," Swalwell told over a hundred supporters gathered in Pleasanton. "I worked at a gym in the morning and would give congressmen towels. At night, I worked at a restaurant and would often serve members of Congress. Now I look forward to working with them."

Swalwell also said the people are tired of members of Congress not working together and will go to Washington to get work done.

Stark's camp could not be reached for comment as of midnight. He reportedly did not return to the district for Election Day.

539 of 541 Precincts Reporting

15th Congressional District Votes % Pete Stark (I) 70,401
Eric Swalwell 85,223
Source: California Secretary of State Website

Update: 9:40

Eric Swalwell continues to lead Rep. Pete Stark with about half of the precients reporting.

Swalwell has 55.4 percent of the vote to Stark's 44.6 percent.

Swalwell's campaign headquarters is packed at the Deputy Sheriffs' Association of Alameda County in Pleasanton. They aren't celebrating yet, but they are hoping to soon.

Update: 8:50

With about 70,000 votes now counted, Eric Swalwell is leading with 55.5 percent of the vote.

The mood at Swalwell's campaign headquarters at the Deputy Sheriff's Association office in Pleasanton is optimistic. The candidate, a former Dublin City Councilman is mingling with the crowd and seems at least somewhat relaxed.

8:15 p.m.

No precincts are reporting, but the first votes have been counted.

Swalwell leads with 5,337 votes to 3,364 for votes for Stark.


Small Sample of San Ramon Voters Show Stark's Negative Campaign Strategy Might Have Worked

7:05 p.m.

Patch polled a handful of voters about the race between Rep. Pete Stark and Eric Swalwell for Congress, and their answers might alarm the Swalwell campaign and encourage Stark supporters.

Five random voters leaving the polling location at the San Ramon Community Center Tuesday were asked to explain their choice.

Three voters said they chose Stark; two picked Swalwell.

Claudia Medecki's reasoning for picking Stark might concern the opposition.

"I don't vote for members of the Tea Party," Medecki said.

Swalwell is a Democrat — not a Tea Party member — but the Stark campaign recently sent a mailer  to voters implying Swalwell was a closeted Tea Partier.

Another San Ramon voter, Jocelyn Maniulit, said she voted for Stark because she was more familiar with the veteran congressman.

Two voters, Srilatcha Davuluri and Marissa Clarke, said they made their determinations based on the voters' guide. Davuluri voted for Stark, Clarke went with Swalwell.

Dana Lopez also said she voted for Swalwell but was nervous about it. She heard in advertisements that Swalwell had illegally taken money from developers and might not be concerned about protecting Social Security.

"Politics does twist things around sometimes," Lopez said. "I hope that's the case here."


Voters in the 15th Congressional District have a choice between two Democrats to be their next congressman.

Though they represent the same party and are similar politically, the two men have vastly different backgrounds.

Congressman Pete Stark is the experience candidate. The liberal is the longest serving member of Congress from California, being in the U.S. House of Representative since 1973. Though he has had a turbulent campaign — with a number of blunders leading up to the primary — he also has the endorsement of President Barack Obama.

Hoping to end Stark's tenure in Congress is Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell. The 31-year-old is the change candidate. He has argued that Stark is no longer an effective congressman and that he's more in touch with local issues. Though he's a Democrat, his campaign hopes Republican voters will see him as the lesser of two evils compared to Stark.

Californicated1 November 06, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Prime-Time TV is going to be pre-empted for this?
Sean November 06, 2012 at 08:12 PM
No kidding! I too am more interested in who can do a better Foxtrot than who our President will be.
Brash Brazen November 06, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Voters have shown Pete their love with twenty consecutive winning campaigns,here's wishing our Congressman the best of luck in today's important election & two more years to continue his fine work in Washington !!!
Californicated1 November 06, 2012 at 10:15 PM
You may be more into that dance stuff. As for me, it will be more about watching Cote de Pablo and Pauley Perrette in a new episode of "NCIS" or Carrie-Anne Moss dressing retro in "Vegas", but that's me.
Californicated1 November 06, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Now if that ain't trolling for bad comments, I'm not sure what is these days.
timothy November 06, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Let's hope our senile Congressman FAILS this time, we need new blood in Congress. Besides that, Stark doesn't even live here in California. My guess is the only people voting for Stark would be people living off the system. let's get theis new young Democrat into office, i am sure he will be an outstanding Congressman! Vote Swalwell.
Eric November 07, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Bye bye Pete, time to retire. So very tired of your feeding the parasites with my hard earned money.
Roger Zou November 07, 2012 at 05:07 AM
Looks like Swalwell's going to win. Good.
Morgan Richardson November 07, 2012 at 06:19 AM
Bye Pete, you rude disgusting nasty condescending fool. And get your wifey and kids off the public trough.
Morgan Richardson November 07, 2012 at 06:21 AM
Good riddance!!
Morgan Richardson November 07, 2012 at 06:23 AM
Looks like Swalwells going to win. Good
Morgan Richardson November 07, 2012 at 06:25 AM
Golly gee my comment wasn't deleted yet like the OTHERS
timothy November 07, 2012 at 07:07 AM
I am so very happy, congrats Eric!!! Bye Stark, you were there too long, enjoy retirement in your Maryland home. Its great to have a real local in Congress.
Jack O. November 07, 2012 at 09:07 AM
Finally, the Embarrassment of the California Congressional Delegation is removed! Good riddance to the removal of that old lying Fraud and the special interest cronies who pay for him. This is truly a victory for the Voters of the new Congressional District 15. Congratulations to Eric Swalwell! Thank you for finally removing the one person that drew more flies than the rotting trash emanating from behind the Congressional Commissary on a hot August day.
Joe Granada November 07, 2012 at 09:56 AM
Swalwell wasn't the winner of a political campaign so much as the spectator at a train wreck. Other Democratic incumbents endorsed Stark, as is more or less automatic in Washington, but they didn't lift a finger to help him, since they knew it was time for him to go.
Dan Arnhem November 07, 2012 at 10:09 AM
What we saw in Pete Stark's defeat was arrogance without a mind to back it up. All the air was let out of Stark's arrogance when people realized there was nothing behind it.
Californicated1 November 07, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Considering that we were "railroaded" into this choice to begin with and that the Alameda County Voter Registrar's Office committed the greatest impropriety of all in this election--by not having a section for the "Write-In" candidate and not bothering to count those that actually did put a "Write-In" candidate for this seat like myself. Things are not going to be good for the 15th District and my hope for Livermore is that we get gerrymandered back out before the 2014 elections. Who knows, perhaps we here in Livermore may wind up back in McNerney's district for the next election, since the Pleasanton resident got re-elected to a district in which he no longer lives and that perhaps they will redistrict us into that fight in 2014? As always, the highest concentration of registered GOP voters in the Bay Area lost in this election, along with the rest of Livermore.
david November 07, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Stark and leadership don't go together. He lead us where? Claiming Stark was one of the most influencial leaders in the past 40 years leaves me wonder where the heck have I been as I missed it, please wake me up from my coma.
Shelby November 07, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Ding Dong the witch is dead. It is amazing that it took this long to get rid of the dishonorable congressman from the state of Maryland.
Punxnotdead November 07, 2012 at 07:41 PM
I'm glad Swalwell won, but it really shouldn't have been as close as 53% to 47%. Stark has been an embarrassment and knew it, which is why he wouldn't debate. How did he still manage to get 47%? Voters needs to stop voting for the name they recognize and do more research. Getting out to vote is great, but voting without being educated is a plague on our democracy. Oh and BTW, gotta love this new 'Top 2 system'. Interesting that a Republican gets the credit with making the change and the Dems immediately benefit. To all the neocons who are complaining...be careful what you wish for.
Punxnotdead November 07, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Voters finally woke up and kicked this dinosaur to the curb. Enjoy retirement.
Darwinian Justice November 07, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Buh-bye, Stark. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, jerk!
Roger V. Tranfaglia November 07, 2012 at 10:11 PM
I never met the man,do not know a whole lot about him or his record in congress. However former congressman Stark most likely did a lot of good things for his party and district during his time in office. Saying that,I just hope to heck I keep my faculties about me at that age. Mr Swalwell welcome aboard!
Shelby November 07, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Stark was such an asset, that when Charlie Rangel was forced out as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, the members wanted Sander Levin even though Stark was next in line. They gave him one day and then he “resigned” so Levin could take over. http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0310/33908.html An exerpt: Stark, 78, was in trouble from the beginning with his potential chairmanship. He was ensnared in an ethics investigation into claims he tried to obtain a tax exemption for Maryland residents though his main residence is in California. In an interview with the Office of Congressional Ethics, Stark alternatively denied and admitted that he had applied for the tax exemption. He was eventually absolved by the ethics committee. He has also long been known to grab the spotlight with bizarre and often offensive comments. He called former Connecticut Republican Rep. Nancy Johnson a “whore for the insurance industry” and said she got her information from “pillow talk.” He said Jewish members of Congress were a cause of the Gulf War. More recently, he accused Republicans of sending soldiers to Iraq “to get their heads blown off for the president’s amusement."
The Real Anon November 08, 2012 at 02:54 AM
How is a Democrat going to be an outstanding Congressman? Outstanding at what? Raising taxes and increasing spending? Ridiculous.
The Real Anon November 08, 2012 at 02:56 AM
That senile old coot should have been put out to pasture 15 years ago. He is a deranged belligerent idiot. Every time I see him speak, I wonder what the hell is the matter with him; is he drunk? Alzheimers? Missed some meds?
The Real Anon November 08, 2012 at 03:02 AM
"most likely"? You have to guess? You just said that you don't know anything about him or his record in Congress, so why would you assume he did a lot of things or that any of them were good? I've seen him talk to constituents about illegal immigration, which the Democrats encourage, and it was obvious he was a traitor to the Constitution, because he refused to try to uphold the law or defend the country - both included in the oaths of office administered to members of Congress at their swearing-in ceremonies! Meanwhile, here in his home state, taxpayers are being ripped off and forced to spend $21B a year to provide services to illegals. Stark refused to do a damn thing to prevent that, and lashed out at taxpayers instead, accusing them of being "tea partiers", and racists! Moderator: please delete my previous comment - it posted while I was still typing and was incomplete...so it is a duplicate. Thanks!
The Real Anon November 08, 2012 at 03:07 AM
What this highlights is the fact that our political system is stupid. Trying to elect people to represent us is stupid and futile. Our system is often referred to as "representative democracy" but it is neither representative, nor democratic. Think about it: how can anyone possibly "represent" you unless you select them yourselves and they accept a fiduciary duty which you lay upon them as a charge, like a contract? They can't! And it silly to think that if business managers, attorneys, and executors can't manage to fulfill their obligations to the sole or handful of clients they have, that politicians can somehow represent the interests of tens or hundreds of thousands or millions of people! The problem is that as a country, we collectively suffer from the delusion that we can do the above, even though it is impossible and clearly dysfunctional. This accompanies the other delusion, a fervent belief in the idea that government somehow becomes magically possessed of powers that individuals don't themselves have. How can you "transfer" or "delegate" a power to do something, unless you yourself possess that power?
Roger V. Tranfaglia November 08, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Sorry if I insulted everybody's intelligence. I started voting in the Tri-Valley in 2006. Before then I lived in the South Bay. Now if the former Congress man has been in office for the past 40 years......hey.! I did not hear or read about him till earlier this year.
Jack O. November 08, 2012 at 06:02 PM
For the last 20 years, Stark did good things for Stark and no one else. I challenge you to provide and example of one good thing for his District. Also, if you've ever met the man or heard him speak, you would probably ask what many have asked, "who let this lunatic out. He is an embarrassment." Even the leader of the California Congressional Caucus agrees that Stark was an embarrassment. I hope that when you get to be 80, you are NOT like Stark and that you can enjoy your years with a sound mind and body. Stark had neither.


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