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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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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.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by mloliver, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 21, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Roz, Maybe this will help. I found it on the League of Women Voters' site.

New for June 2012: California?s Top Two Primary System

Voters approved the Top Two Primary system for statewide offices in June 2010. With the Top Two Primary, all candidates running for an office are listed on one ballot, regardless of their party preference. A candidate?s party has no impact on how the election is conducted or who is allowed to advance to the General Election. Instead, candidates go on to a run-off election based solely on how many votes they receive in the Primary.

The two candidates who receive the most votes qualify for the general election, hence the name ?Top Two.?

It does not matter if one candidate receives a majority of the votes cast: the top two vote getters always advance to the general election.
Even if only one or two candidates are running for a Top Two office, there will still be a primary election for that office.
Because candidates are not appearing on the ballot representing a party, it is possible for two candidates from the same party to be the top two vote-getters and advance to the General Election.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on May 21, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Thanks, ML, that helps.

I'm still confused about the Supervisor's race. That's a local race, so it probably isn't included in the State's Top Two. I believe it is non-partisan, so all candidates run in the primary, but if one gets more than 50% of the vote he or she is the winner.

I just checked one of the past elections where Gayle Uilkema received 74% of the vote in the primary and there was no election for her district in November. So I'm right about the Supervisor's race this June. If one of the three candidates receives 50+% he or she will be the winner with no run-off in the fall.

The congressional seat is different and would require a run-off in the fall. So I'm not crazy (well at least not about this), but it is confusing.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on May 23, 2012 at 1:22 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

The recording of my interview of Eric Swalwell this morning on Blogtalkradio is available to listen online at the following link.

Web Link

There's distracting hum in the background of Mr. Swalwell's answers, but he spoke clearly and is otherwise easy to understand.

I shall interview Stark's other opponent, Chris Pareja, next Wednesday morning. Web Link

I invited Rep. Stark to be interviewed, but he has not responded to my invitation yet.

Roz Rogoff
San Ramon Observer blog Monday & Friday in the San Ramon Express
Blogtalkradio program Wednesday at 11:30 am

Posted by Harry S., a resident of San Ramon,
on May 25, 2012 at 8:42 am

Roz- As you know I support Swalwell. He would be a much more moderate voice for this congressional district. Eric is the kind of guy who really connects with folks because he actually listens and cares about what people think. I have found him to be articulate and he delivers in a common sense type of way that is certainly missing from the old guard of, ahem "public servants". When I needed information on an intricate budget issue that Dublin and San Ramon share, the old Dublin San Ramon fire district pension liabilities, Swalwell got back to me quickly with pertinant information.

I would encourage all your readers to learn more about Eric by looking up his website , swalwellforcongress .

Swalwell is what this country needs; and hundreds more like him. Washington has long been tone deaf to the REAL problems facing America. The ever-growing federal, state and local bureaucracies insulate decision makers from the public. The financial problems at all levels of government are mounting. We need leaders who are willing to step out and listen to the public and each other. Swalwell would be the wise choice for the 15th Congressional.

Posted by Bob P, a resident of another community,
on May 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I too would support and vote for Swallwell. Stark should have been voted out 38 years ago.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on May 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


I was very impressed with Swalwell's answers to my questions. Unfortunately the hum in the background is very annoying, but I hope people listen to the interview because Swalwell is bright and has some good ideas.

I've read that Stark had good ideas when he defeated a long-time, aging incumbent in 1972. So I hope whoever is elected to replace Stark doesn't become "Washingtonized" after a few terms.

I shall be interviewing Stark's other opponent, Chris Pareja, at 11:30 am on May 30th. Web Link

Pareja seems like a nice guy. I don't know if that's enough reason to elect him, but he should have a chance to present his positions and explain why he is the best choice to represent the 15th District. I plan to write my Monday blog on Pareja to balance this one on Swalwell.


Posted by Jake, a resident of San Ramon,
on May 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Seems like the John Zukoski blog is working for Swalwell because Stark said in an interview he got his bribe claim from Zukoski. Zukoski gave Swalwell a big gift with the bad info that made Stark look pretty bad so I think Zukoski must really be working for Swalwell. Zukoski and Swalwell are both from Dublin so it would figure that Zukoski would support Swalwell.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on May 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


That's an interesting theory. You believe that John Zukoski is using reverse psychology to attack Eric Swalwell, so that Stark would fall for it and make false accusations. I think that's giving Zukoski too much credit.

No the Around Dublin Blog uses attacks against those in positions of power in Dublin to appeal to readers who are attracted to attack journalism. This has been a successful formula for Newspapers, and now TV and blogs, for over 150 years. Those readers want their anger stoked by yellow journalism that reinforces their biases and political views. Zukoski does a good job with that.


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