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By Roz Rogoff

Can Eric Swalwell unseat Pete Stark?

Uploaded: May 20, 2012

My Blogtalkradio show is back this Wednesday morning at 11:30 am with an interview with Eric Swalwell. Swalwell is running against long-time Democrat Representative Pete Stark in the newly redistricted 15th District. Here's my teaser for the show:

"Dublin City Councilman, Eric Swalwell, is running against 20-term Congressman, Fortney Pete Stark, in the newly redistricted 15th District.
Can the ant topple the hippo? We shall ask Swalwell what his chances are against Stark and about some of the accusations against him in the Around Dublin blog.
Is this just a grandstand attempt at name recognition, or does Swalwell have a chance to thwart Stark's reelection in the June 5th primary and make it into a 2-man race in November.
Tune in and find out."

I wrote two blogs about the June 5th Primary, where I believed that the candidate receiving 50+% of the vote would be elected or would run unopposed in November. Now I'm not so sure. It appears that even if Stark gets more than 50% of the primary vote, the second highest vote getter, which is between Democrat Eric Swalwell and non-partisan (but definitely Republican) Chris Pareja, would make it to the ballot in November.

June 5th is the first "Top Two" primary established by Proposition 14, where the top two vote getters face off in November, even if one gets 70% and the next one 25% and the last one 5%. Someone please correct me if that's wrong?

What if there are only two candidates running, and one gets 70% and the other 30%, do they both still run in November? I can't find the answer to this. It appears that the top two would run again, even if one receives twice as many votes. Is this correct?

I endorsed Candace Andersen for Contra Costa County Supervisor under the belief that if she can get 50+% of the vote in June, there would be no election in November or she would be the only candidate. Since it is a three-way race, does that mean the top two run against each other in November? Is the Supervisor's race still non-partisan or is it now Top Two? I am so confused.

But let's get back to today's topic, which is my interview of Eric Swalwell this Wednesday. I shall ask him how this works. It appears that he only has to beat the third candidate, Chris Pareja, to face Pete Stark in November, even if Pete Stark gets over 50% of the vote in June. This may not be as crazy as it sounds.

The purpose of Prop 14 was to reduce the influence of party regulars in choosing their most extreme candidates in the primaries. Now the two candidates, whether independents, in opposite parities, or in the same party, face off in November. This gives independent and moderate voters a choice closer to their own positions than what they were left with between the extreme right and left sides of the two major parties.

The Republican Presidential Primaries, where Mitt Romney had to play the "I'm a Conservative," game to get nominated against extreme but unelectable candidates like Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich, highlight how extremists have taken over the two major parties.

The differences between Eric Swalwell and Pete Stark highlight the differences between the very liberal Stark and the more moderate Swalwell. In the past, conservative Republican Chris Pareja would probably be Stark's opponent in November and even with the addition of Tri-Valley cities to Stark's district, Pareja wouldn't have a chance of beating Stark. On the other hand, Swalwell does.

Friday's Forum radio show on KQED discussed the changes Prop 14 made to this year's primary election. San Francisco Chronicle Political Reporter, Carla Marinucci, said in the past Stark was invincible, but this year with redistricting and the new Top Two primary, Swalwell has a chance of beating Stark in November where more independents vote.

Stark clearly sees Swalwell as a contender. On April 10th Stark accused Swalwell of taking bribes from developers, but he apologized for the accusation a week later. On May 2nd the Around Dublin Blog also accused Swalwell of being "Bought and Paid for by Lin Family and Other Developers." Maybe John Zukoski owes Swalwell an apology.

Around Dublin likes to sensationalize their stories with doctored photos to incite readers. The above story features a photo of money with blood drops on it. Another anti-Swalwell article shows a photo of Swalwell with strings connected leading to the phrase "No developer left behind."

I don't know much about Eric Swalwell, but being on the Dublin City Council for two years doesn't seem to be a jumping point for Congress. Still if there is enough dissatisfaction in the newly redistricted 15th Congressional District, Stark could be vulnerable to the ABS, "Anyone but Stark," opportunity Swalwell at least provides.