Rep. Eric Swalwell, center, campaigning for Bryan
Parker last spring. along with future candidate Tojo
Thomas, right, who Swalwell later endorsed for
the Castro Valley school board. Both lost.
Despite periodic news reports placing East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell on the precipice of earning a prime leadership post among House Democrats one day, his imprimatur has not meant much at all for local candidates seeking office.
On Election Night, some of the biggest surprises losers in the East Bay shared at least one commonality: Their campaign was endorsed by Swalwell.
Fremont Mayor Bill Harrison was the victim of an upset last week at the hands of Councilmember Lily Mei. Swalwell's endorsement apparently did little to sway voters in Fremont worried about development and traffic.
Closer to Swalwell's neck of the woods in the Tri Valley, two sitting Livermore council members were defeated, including Stewart Gray, who also was endorsed by Swalwell.
Whether political endorsements truly mean nothing to voters is up for questioning, but so is Swalwell's apparent inability to sway many local races, especially in down ballot races where the endorsement of a sitting, presumably popular, congressman would usually present an enormous shot in the arm for any candidate. For whatever reason, Swalwell's backing means shockingly little to voters in the East Bay.
A similar outcome came last week in the same area when Tojo Thomas, a candidate for the Castro Valley school board, missed out on three open seats. Thomas was previously endorsed by Swalwell and the candidate made certain voters knew about the endorsement by featuring it on signage and campaign flyers.
In neighboring Hayward, Swalwell's backing of a group seeking to replace three sitting school board incumbents with a trio of its own candidates failed miserably in achieving its goal.
This trend likely started in 2014 when Swalwell endorsed a well-known, but controversial Castro Valley construction company owner named Marc Crawford for the areas sanitary district board. It's debatable whether Crawford's unpopularity among voters in Castro Valley, through his antics as a member of the unincorporated area's Municipal Advisory Committee, ruined his candidacy, but nonetheless, after toting Swalwell's endorsement Crawford finished dead last.
But the most significant test of Swalwell's deficient gravitas among voters was seen during the most recent June primary after he issued a surprise endorsement for the candidate opposing Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley. Swalwell's support for Bryan Parker, a former Oakland mayor candidate waging a well-financed challenge to Miley, was viewed by the campaign as pivotal to its chances in upsetting the long-time supervisor in places like Castro Valley and Pleasanton.
Mailers trumpeting Swalwell's endorsement were sent, Swalwell, himself, walked door-to-door in support of Parker. On primary day, voters not only rejected Parker, but also Swalwell. Miley trounced him by 30 points.