The race for the 15th Congressional seat between the ancient incumbent Pete Stark and challenger Eric Swalwell is three weeks from election day, but ambitious politicians already are lining up for 2014.
If Swalwell manages to take out Stark this November, it’s quite likely he will face a challenge from a fellow Democrat who wants a shot at what is likely to be a safe seat for decades. Stark hasn’t faced a serious challenge since he won the seat on 1972. As the district has been redrawn over the years, it’s grown even safer for Democrats.
Congressional seats are prized among California politicians because they do not carry the term limits that apply to state offices. The only seat in the Bay Area to change hands in the last decade was in 2006 when Jerry McNerney knocked off seven-term incumbent Republican Richard Pombo.
The last opening came when Ellen Tauscher stepped down from her seat to take a job in the Obama Administration. Her seat drew then Lt. Gov. John Garamendi as well as newly elected Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan and State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier. The rush to run demonstrates just how desirable the Congressional seats are to California politicians.
That brings us back around to the 15th and decisions.
Assuming Stark wins and then decides to retire in two years, neither of which is a sure thing, termed-out Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman has announced her intention to run for the seat, while state Sen. Ellen Corbett told a local Realtor group last week that she will run as well after she is termed out from the Senate in 2014.
Of course, former Obama Dept. of Commerce official and Silicon Valley lawyer Ro Khanna also has made no secret of his plans to run for the seat. He touts his Indian background and the large Indian population cluster in the Fremont area as one base of support. He’s already run fundraisers and banked more than $1.2 million toward the 2014 campaign. He’s currently of counsel for the prestigious Silicon Valley law firm, Wilson, Sonsini.
The Stark-Swalwell race has drawn national attention because it directly results from the change to an open primary that allows the top two in the primary to advance to the general election regardless of party. There’s a hotly contested race in Southern California where two veteran Congressman are facing each other for the same seat after redistricting.
Some interesting notes from the state Senate Committee on Governance and Finance that tracks vetoes by California governors over time.
For instance, Gov. George Deukmejian vetoed the most bills in a year—436—while the incompetent Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed 414. Unfortunately, Arnold signed some bills that are continuing to doom the California economy such as the cap-and-trade bill to curb global warming.
Gov. Brown vetoed 12 percent of the bills that the Legislature sent to his desk this year, less than 14 percent in his first year. When he governed earlier for two terms, he vetoed just 4.4 percent. His percentage of vetoed bills is the lowest for all governors since 1967.
When it comes to the most vetoed bills—the Republican governors, Deukmejian (2,298 over eight years) and Schwarzenegger (1,970 over seven years) easily lead the pack.