Looking ahead to 2014, it will be a critical political year because of the mid-term elections.
For U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell, it will mean working even harder than he has in his first year in office because he will face a June primary challenge from veteran state Senator Ellen Corbett.
Unlike Swalwell, who jumped from a first-term seat on the Dublin City Council to Congress by taking out 20-term incumbent Pete Stark in 2012, Corbett has a long history of elected service. She served six years on the San Leandro City Council and was a directly elected mayor before winning a state Assembly seat for six years and then moving to the state Senate for eight years. She is termed out next year so will have the advantage of running for Congress as an elected official.
The open primary creates an interesting dynamic for both. It is a solidly Democratic district (48 percent to 22 percent Republican with 21 percent decline-to-state) so both likely will advance to the general election as the top two in the primary. Assuming the Democrat vote splits, both elections will be decided by the independents and the Republicans. Swalwell benefited in his successful challenge of Stark by garnering Republican voters who could not stand Stark.
Now, he will have a record to run on and has attracted the support of Democratic leaders who are poster women for what's wrong with the Democratic Party from a conservative viewpoint. Swalwell has been endorsed by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and people in his email list received a fundraising appeal from House Democrat leader Debbie Wasserman-Schulz. Presumably, those endorsements help with the progressive elements of the Democrat voters, but their support will raise questions for independents and Republicans.
Swalwell's success in lining up key party leaders likely was a factor in Ro Khanna's decision to challenge long-time incumbent Mike Honda in the 13th District instead of taking on Swalwell. Both races will be closely watched and probably will involve lots of money.
The deposed Stark already has said publicly that he will invest some of his substantial personal fortune in helping Corbett defeat Swalwell.