Eric Swalwell defeats 20-term Rep. Pete Stark


The newest member of the Bay Area congressional delegation offered no apology for unseating a veteran incumbent of his own party. Eric Swalwell, 31, unseated Democrat Pete Stark, who has served 40 years in Congress. On Wednesday we caught up with the newly elected representative.

Swalwell grew up in this district, interned for Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, he's been a city councilman and prosecutor.

He does not apologize for being the rookie congressman, though he does admit of being a little overwhelmed facing his supporters as he won last night.

"It just felt great to give them that hard-earned victory because they believed in me very early when many people thought we were crazy and though that we were out of our minds, they believed in me," said Swalwell.

The new open primary system allowed voters of all parties to vote across party lines and that's why they ended up choosing between Swalwell and fellow Democrat Pete Stark. The 20-term incumbent, was first elected in 1972. He refused to debate Swalwell in this race and got testy when ABC7 political reporter Mark Matthews asked him about it this summer.

Matthews: Why wouldn't you debate him?
Stark: Because we'd only get stupid questions like you're asking that have nothing to do with issues. I'll talk with anybody about issues, but not about nonsense.

Swalwell's campaign posted a mock debate on YouTube instead. Swalwell credits a broad swath of voters with giving him the win.

"I think it was a coalition of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. I think across the board we were able to appeal and put performance above politics and drew a sharp contrast between our campaign and the incumbent," said Swalwell.

Stark issued a statement Wednesday saying in part, "I went to Washington by running against an unpopular war and for women's rights, opportunity for children and dignity for seniors. I leave knowing that the landscape has changed, but the needs of my constituents remain. I congratulate Mr. Swalwell on his victory. I am happy to be of assistance in the future."

When asked if he had heard from Stark on Wednesday, Swalwell said, "We have not, but he knows how to get ahold of us and we wish him well as he moves on."

Swalwell heads to Washington next week for an orientation and he will be sworn in January 3rd.

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