In the first debate for the open seat in California's new 15th Congressional District, the 40-year veteran congressman and the 31-year-old Dublin City Councilman traded verbal blows, while the conservative candidate did his best to stay out of the squabble.
That's a short summary of the Contra Costa Times report on the debate hosted by the League of Women Voters in Hayward Tuesday night.
Rep. Pete Stark, Democrat Eric Swalwell and conservative businessman Chris Pareja debated health care, the economy and immigration, among other issues.
From reports, Swalwell was tough on Stark, saying the congressman has become “out of step, out of touch and out of sight.”
Stark told the audience, “What you want is somebody who’s dependable, who’s been here, who’s served you, who’s provided all the projects this community needs.”
But what Swalwell took exception to were the personal attacks from Stark.
The Times reported Stark accused Swalwell of taking bribes connected with a controversial housing situation that came before the Dublin City Council last year and the congressman said Swalwell hasn't voted in recent elections.
The Times reported Wednesday that Swalwell has voted in every election since June 2006 and the campaign says Swalwell was a student at the University of Maryland prior to June 2006.
In a press release Wednesday, the Swalwell campaign called for Stark to publicly apologize and to ask for proof of the accusations.
The press release also notes that, "At the conclusion of the debate, as Swalwell shook congressman Stark's hand, Stark's behavior spiraled completely into the gutter as he lodged additional profanity-laced insults." The East Bay Citizen reported the incident.
The three-man race will be cut to two after the primary election in June, with the top two finishers, no matter the political party, competing in the general election.