Six candidates are vying to unseat U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell in the 15th Congressional District, where he has served as congressman since 2013. Swalwell, seeking a fourth term, has the advantage in the heavily democratic district, where he won with nearly 74 percent of the vote in 2018.
Two Republicans, three Democrats and a candidate running independently are aiming to replace him. The top two finishers in the March 3 primary face off in the Nov. 3 general election. Mail-in ballots go out next week.
The 15th District includes Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore, San Ramon, Hayward, Union City, Fremont, Castro Valley, San
Lorenzo, San Leandro, Danville, Cherryland, Ashland, Sunol and Fairview.
Swalwell, a former prosecutor who serves on the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, which handled the impeachment inquiry in recent months, said voters should return him to Congress because he has ascended to the Democratic leadership, putting him in position to play key roles in designing legislation, including action to reduce gun violence, establish a $15 minimum wage, secure equal pay for equal work for women, and relieve student debt.
"I have a record of understanding the issues that face us, whether it's the cost of housing, congestion via traffic, student loan debt and ending gun violence," Swalwell said. "I understand these issues because I show up and listen to my constituents."
Swalwell, 39, waged a brief campaign for president, appearing in the first Democratic debate, but he was the first candidate to drop out. Swalwell made gun violence a top issue, saying he was inspired by the activists following the shooting at Parkland High School in Florida. Swalwell also called guns a personal issue because he is a former prosecutor, has two brothers who serve as Alameda County sheriff's deputies, and two young children.
"I want them to go to school and never do a mass shooter drill," said Swalwell, the son of a former police chief.
Swalwell said he also prioritizes making housing more affordable so "people have more money in their pockets." Increasing wages and reducing student loan debt will help "make sure the American dream of home ownership is in reach," he said.
For the district, Swalwell supports federal funding for the rail service project to connect BART to the Altamont Corridor Express train in Livermore to take 30,000 cars off the road and relieve congestion along the I-580 corridor. The project, he said, is "shovel-ready," but needs a Democratic president and Senate to provide federal funding.
"We are closer than we have ever been" he said.
Swalwell touted legislation he wrote to require companies to disclose to the government when a foreign person, country, or organization tries to influence an election with political ads; and an act that requires federal campaign officials to notify the FBI if a foreign agent offers dirt on an opponent. He also wants to extend the statute of limitations for crimes committed by presidents, so they can be charged when their terms end.
Swalwell, who lives with his wife, Brittany, and children in Livermore, said that he got running for president out of his system and believes "I am a better representative because I did it.”
He declined to immediately endorse a fellow candidate for president.
"Like most Californians I'm still undecided, waiting for my absentee ballot to arrive," he said.
On the web: https://swalwell.house.gov/
Democrat Austin Intal, 28, is a Hayward resident who hopes to pull a stunning upset of an incumbent to take the seat more to the left.
Intal, a licensed real estate agent and former rental car manager, supports Bernie Sanders for president, saying his message resonated with him in 2016.
“Our historic campaign victory would be similar to Congresswoman (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s) upset victory in 2018,” Intal said. “This could be huge and a media firestorm past the preliminaries.”
Ocasio-Cortez staged a stunning victory in 2018 when she beat U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley, the fourth-ranking Democrat in the House.
Intal said Swalwell is too conservative and has taken millions of dollars in donations since he was elected.”
“I am running because currently the systems of government and business are not working for everyday people,” he said. “We need real progressive change.”
Intal identified his three top priorities as overhauling the healthcare system with Medicare for All, including dental care and long-term retirement care; free college and trade school for all, along with the cancellation of student debt; and tax fairness, taxing the rich, not the working class.
Intal said people work 40 to 60 hours a week, but struggle to pay the rent, lose their medical expenses and ability to pay student loans.
“The focus of my campaign is really the economy,” he said.
On the web: austinintal2020.nationbuilder.com.
Democrat Tuan Phan, 30, a biochemist who lives in Castro Valley, is running because he believes income inequality has resulted in a lack of home for his generation to live a middle-class life.
Phan said Swalwell "doesn't champion anything for my generation," and spends too much of his time criticizing Trump, instead of catering to the public’s needs.
"He is in office for three terms and runs for president," Phan said. "He doesn't have his eyes on what my generation needs."
Working at a refinery until recently, Phan said he and his peers made good money, but the prospect of starting a family and buying a house appeared out of reach
"I feel there is a general sense of despair for my generation," he said.
A supporter of presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, Phan said his priorities include addressing income inequality and restoring the middle class with unionization and the break-up of monopolies.
Phan, who said he sees himself as a follower of President Franklin Roosevelt and lists John and Robert Kennedy as heroes, supports universal healthcare with Medicare for All, and passage of the Green New Deal to create jobs and protect the environment.
Phan, a child of Vietnamese immigrants, said he always wanted to do his part, and his first run for office is the start. He called his campaign a “very interesting experience.”
On his website, Phan writes that, for too long, the political process has worked to benefit the wealthy while disenfranchising ordinary Americans.
"I believe in the United States of America," Phan said. "I believe that while the opportunities it provided my immigrant parents are fewer for my generation, they can be expanded in our time. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. I believe restoring the middle class is our country's path towards prosperity. And most of all, I believe in you -- the individual citizen who is informed and engaged is the only hope our democracy has if we are to move ahead."
On the web: www.tuanvphan.com/
Democrat Samantha Campbell, a 24-year-old student and teacher, said she is running to unseat Swalwell because he has become too comfortable in his position. She said the founders designed two-year terms in the house to give “lay people” a voice for the issues affecting them in the community.
“I’m running because I’ve noticed a lot of things haven’t been getting done in the way they said they were going to,” she said. “Our district has a history of long-sitting representatives who get comfortable in their spot and then either decide to sit there or use it as a stepping-stone.”
Campbell, who lives in Hayward, said she “has a great knack for being able to listen to people’s issues and what problems they are seeing.”
“I’m not going to leave this district high and dry while I’m going after some really big dream that I have,” Campbell said. “If his goal was to really bring dollars back to the district, he wouldn’t have run for president.”
Campbell cited climate change, affordable higher education and universal healthcare as three key issues.
She supports the “Green New Deal” and focusing legislation on reducing traffic, such as better transportation. She supports investing in sustainable water and agriculture because of drought.
Campbell supports affordable and debt-free higher education and trade schools, and capping student loan interest rates. She supports a single-payer healthcare system espoused by her preferred presidential candidate, Sen. Bernie Sanders. Taxes would increase, she said, but be offset by not paying premiums for prescription costs.
Campbell, who works for the New Haven Unified School District, said she hopes to defeat Swalwell, but, if she loses, she hopes to push him to the left. She described Swalwell as “Just left enough to not piss off all the people on the right.
“I will run against him when his next term is up,” she said. “I want to bring some voice and awareness to the issues that I think are being ignored.”
On the web: https://www.votecampbell2020.com/
Peter Yuan Liu
Republican Peter Yuan Liu, 39, is a U.S. Army veteran who previously ran for Oakland mayor and California governor. The husband and father lives in Oakland. Liu owns a commercial building in San Lorenzo, where he sells insurance.
Liu, who said he has not spent any money on his campaign, explained that he is running because he has “several things I think I can bring to the table to solve problems.” He said Swalwell “hasn’t been beneficial for the district.”
“Fake news props him up and he talks stupid (expletive) on TV,” Liu said. “That’s why his presidency went nowhere…When I look at him, I see total (expletive). That’s what I see.”
Liu’s top priorities focus on education, housing and insurance, and abortion:
— Liu believes the U.S. Department of Education should create an online university that would offer majors at low cost — $400 for a bachelor’s degree, $600 for a master’s, and $800 for a PhD, allowing students to attend college without emerging from massive debt from upscale universities. Students worldwide would attend classes online. A test score would determine the height of their degree.
— Liu advocates fireproof, earthquake and wind-resistant, and bullet-proof dome-shaped housing made of “super adobe” that would be cheap to build. Such houses, made with a mixture of mud in sandbags, could be built worldwide to reduce the homeless problem and enable homeowners to avoid having to buy insurance.
— Liu proposes legislation that would allow women planning to abort a pregnancy to instead auction their newborns to people for $50,000 to $2 million, helping couples who cannot conceive, reducing abortion, and preventing neglected children born to parents who did not want them. Liu said his idea benefits the birth mother financially and eliminates the need for abortion. Couples who pay the money would care for children they wanted.
“This is not slavery,” he said. “This is adoption by auction.”
Liu supports President Donald Trump’s re-election.
Republican Alison Hayden, a district-level delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention, is a special education teacher who believes Swalwell leans too far to the left to represent the district.
“He’s talking about taking the guns away. He wants to take the jobs away,” Hayden said. “He wants single-payer healthcare. He is singing the song of the far-left Democrats. I don’t think my district is ready for that.”
Hayden said her top priority is strengthening the family, an issue that includes securing the border and giving parents more rights over their children’s education. She said she believes in providing community resources where people can receive marriage counseling, parenting support and “building safe spaces where families can have a place to go.”
She believes in making changes to prevent the breakdown of the family, create local jobs and end lengthy commutes.
“Taxes are rising. We’re commuting all over the place. Our relationships are falling apart,” she said. “We need to regroup and focus on keeping families strong and with the jobs and taking home enough money and not be obliged to travel to kingdom come.”
Hayden said she also prioritizes ending taxes, fees and regulations that hurt the middle-class. She plans to encourage businesses to establish jobs for Americans first.
“I say pretty much every policy I would think about would lead back to supporting the family,” Hayden said. “I’m pushing for going back to the basics of community and family as the grass roots of any strong country.”
Hayden said she also advocates that the U.S. Department of Energy move its headquarters from Washington D.C. to the district,
home to technology companies including the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories.
She hopes to land a station in the district for President Trump’s new Space Force.
“That would be a great opportunity for our young graduates,” she said. “That’s another career they could consider.”
Hayden said she supports President Trump’s re-election.
Independent Don Grundmann, 67, director of the National Straight Pride Coalition, believes in eliminating the IRS and nationalizing the Federal Reserve banking system.
Grundmann, a chiropractor who serves as chairman of the Constitution Party in California, said he believes many politicians in government need to be upgraded along with Swalwell.
"Mr. Swalwell is particularly egregious," he said. "He is continually lying about President Trump forever."
Grundmann said Swalwell follows a false Democratic line that the Russians influenced the 2016 election to help Trump. He said there is no evidence that occurred.
"I think it's really disgraceful," he said. "It's demeaning to the American people.”
Grundmann also believes Swalwell and his fellow Democrats want to overturn the Second Amendment.
Grundmann's positions include:
— Abolishing federal funding to organizations like Planned Parenthood that advocate or perform abortions;
— Exposing and destroying organizations like the North American Man/Boy Love Association, which advocates an end to age-of-consent laws;
— Eliminating the federal Department of Education and returning control of schools to state and local authorities. He encourages home schooling and charter schools, while abandoning the public system, which he called a "joke."
— Expanding and developing nuclear power.
— Developing a family wage by abolishing the Federal Reserve System, which he calls a "private banking cartel."
— Eliminating the Internal Revenue Service, which he says acts as a collection arm for the "American Mafia of the Federal Reserve System."
Grundmann, who drew headlines in the summer when he organized a straight pride rally in Modesto, also opposes the LGBTQ movement, believes teaching children about transgender people is a form of child molestation, and is against "transgender mutilation" of children.
Grundmann supports Trump's re-election, saying "if the Democratic party is allowed to win, we would be toast."
On the web: www.fight-the-power.org.