CONGRESS | Mark this under things Rep. Pete Stark’s campaign should have said before Election Day last month:
In a wonderfully sentimental Op-Ed piece for Roll Call, Stark’s long-time Chief of Staff Debbie Curtis laid down the case for her bosses re-election, albeit, nearly a full month after he was narrowly defeated by Congressman-elect Eric Swalwell.
From helping institute COBRA to enacting the “Stark laws” limiting physicians from viewing patients as profit centers to the Affordable Health Care Act’s passage two years ago, there is quite a bit of meat on Stark’s four decades in Congress. Too bad voters were never reminded of these facts.
The piece is similar to Stark’s concession statement where his accomplishments over the years were clearly presented. However, it was a day or two too late, it seems. An appreciation written by Stark’s teenage son, Fish, also did a better job of telling voters about what they are about to miss—a true progressive in Washington.
There is one particular reference in this farewell that bears noting. It involves the constant drumbeat made by Swalwell portraying Stark as a foreigner to his own district. In fact, the often repeated line was easily the biggest lie told by any candidate in the entire East Bay, yet there was never any push-back on the issue by Stark's campaign. Curtis lays out the truth here:
Unlike many lawmakers who have forsaken public town meetings, Stark has never shied away from hearing from his constituents. He has hosted monthly public meetings over his entire career. He even refused to cancel them during the infamous August 2009 health care overhaul debates — believing that people deserved to be heard, even if the forum would be unpleasant.
I was at nearly every one of those town hall meetings, including a few in late 2009 that many lawmakers chickened out rather than face angry constituents. Some were full of Stark’s self-deprecating humor, others with vicious invective being spewed by Tea Pary adherents. Yet, when Swalwell kept repeating the lies of Stark being a stranger in his own district, in the absence of a correction, even I wondered if those town halls were a figment of my own imagination.