Eric Swalwell is getting increased attention as a prominent Democratic congressman. That is a welcome development. Since 2012, when he was first elected to represent Congressional District 15, he has grown in ability and experience. At 37, he is seen as a promising future leader -- and for good reason. He is a loyal Democrat without being hyperpartisan, a moderate who espouses mainstream Democratic values but is willing to work across the aisle. Among many issues, he has fought for greater transparency in Congress, for increased support for education, for reductions in student debt and for improved conditions for startups and small business. He actively helps other Democrats who are running for office. He stays tirelessly in touch with constituents both through electronic media and trips back to the district.
Swalwell is a member of two key House committees, Intelligence and Judiciary. The Intelligence assignment fits with his interest in national security, a vital issue for the Tri-Valley with its two national laboratories. In light of the Supreme Court nomination that consumed so much of the national agenda, the importance of a Judiciary assignment is self-evident. Of course, the focus of nomination activities was in the Senate, but as a former Alameda County prosecutor, Swalwell has considerable expertise on the subject.
Last week, in this newspaper, he noted the powerful credibility of Christine Blasey Ford, the Stanford research psychologist who accused Judge (now Justice) Brett Kavanaugh of attacking her sexually when they were both teenagers.
No one is perfect, and Swalwell took a false step when he tweeted a sarcastic “boo hoo hoo” at Sen. Susan Collins. The Maine Republican had expressed concern at the ugly and threatening mail reaching her office after she initially refused to support Kavanaugh's nomination. (She eventually did support it, to our disappointment and that of progressives generally.) Swalwell quickly apologized when he realized that his criticism seemed to be excusing the hate mail rather than what he meant it to do, which was point out how well protected a U.S. senator is compared to Ford, who had to move because of death threats after her allegation went public. The tweet was a mistake on his part, then, but not a huge one -- and he was big enough to recognize and apologize for it.
Our Congressional District has been represented by some capable people in the past, including Ellen Tauscher, Eric Swalwell’s mentor in his student intern days. Swalwell is following in those footsteps, which – who knows? – may be leading him to higher places.