Rep. Eric Swalwell faces a challenge for his 15th Congressional District seat from political-upstart Alison Hayden, a Republican candidate with a background in finance and education, but no experience in an elected office.
“Government or political experience would seem to be beneficial to a representative, if that experience helps you to perform more effectively,” said Hayden in response to a questionnaire published on Ballotpedia.org. “On the other hand, there is great peril in experience, which is used to detour the functioning of the business of the House or in the interest of one's personal benefit.”
Hayden faces what can conservatively be called an uphill battle. After eight years in Congress, Swalwell is a well-established candidate with four successful campaign cycles under his belt as he looks for another two-year term in the House.
“My priorities include shaping and implementing real action to combat COVID - including testing, tracing and rapid, widespread deployment of a safe, effective vaccine when it’s available - while providing all necessary relief to struggling families,” Swalwell said. “We need a return to normalcy as soon as safely possible. We must regain our world leadership on combating climate chaos. We must make sure no American lacks affordable health care. We must get tougher on other nations’ efforts to interfere with our democracy, and we must restore Americans’ confidence in our public institutions — the ideas that we can trust what our elected officials and government workers say, and that nobody is above the rule of law.”
As the two top vote-getters in the March primary, Swalwell and Hayden advanced to the 2020 general election. Swalwell captured 59% of the primary vote, compared to Hayden’s 12%.
A relative unknown in 2012, Swalwell challenged fellow Democrat Pete Stark for the newly established 15th District seat. Stark, who was endorsed by both former President Barack Obama and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, had served 20 terms as representative for the 13th District, but his bid for a 21st term was upset by Swalwell in a campaign where Stark did himself few favors.
“If (Stark) loses, it will be democracy working the way it should,” California Democratic political consultant Eric Jaye said in an article published by POLITICO before the 2012 election. “He will not be the first member of Congress to feel he was entitled to a seat and not take the steps necessary to earn it. Eric has worked hard to earn it. Congressman Stark has not.”
In 2014, it was Swalwell who received the endorsement of Obama and Pelosi; he easily won reelection with 69.8% of the vote. In 2016 and 2018, he captured 73.8% and 73% of the votes, respectively, in landslide victories over Republican challengers.
Swalwell launched another unlikely campaign in 2019 - one that didn’t end successfully, as his 2012 effort to unseat Stark had done. Swalwell entered the 2020 presidential race, joining a crowded field of Democratic candidates. Unable to gain traction with donors, he ended his bid just four months later and refocused his efforts in the House.
“I learned that Americans of all ages and backgrounds - urban and rural, Democrat and Republican - want their elected officials to work together honestly on the most pressing issues we face: health care, jobs that support families, affordable college education, affordable home ownership, climate change, gun violence and so on,” Swalwell said of his experience as a presidential candidate. “I’ve kept the ‘Go Big, Be Bold, Do Good’ slogan from the presidential campaign because it still applies. We have to go big with the issues we tackle, be bold in the solutions we offer and do good in the way we govern so that every American has the freedom to dream of and achieve a better life for themselves and their kids.”
Hayden, who called President John F. Kennedy a role model, said her campaign focuses on three key issues: employing qualified Americans first; leaning on the private sector to resolve concerns with the environment and health care; and returning power to parents and local communities to solve the problems they face. She also said that she is passionate about protecting the Second Amendment.
“The incumbent has promised to nuke us if we didn't give (guns) up willingly,” Hayden said in the Ballotpedia.org questionnaire. “This is alarming for naysayers of the Democratic-Socialist plan for America that has held the Second Amendment in its sight as a first target to change our form of government. Without the means of self-defense, our voice and freedom of choice are no more. Any government can become corrupted. Our constitution rests sovereignty in the people, and the Second Amendment allows citizens to form militias for such occasions. It must be protected.”
With less than three weeks remaining before the election, Swalwell reflected on his record as his future goes to residents of the 15th Congressional District for the fifth time.
“Ever since my first few months in Congress, I’ve carried a bill to assure a long-term, secure and sustainable supply of energy critical elements that are used in making everything from cell phones to solar panels to jet engines,” Swalwell said. “Last month, it was incorporated into a bigger bill and passed by the House, so I’m happy to have played a role in safeguarding America’s economy and national security. And I’m honored to have played a role in the Intelligence and Judiciary committee investigations that led to the impeachment of President Trump for his abuses of power and obstruction of justice. I firmly believe nobody is above the law, not even the president, and we had to send a message to future generations that we won't stand idly by when a president desecrates the Oval Office.”