Swal­well vis­its Iowa for 13th time.

The Mercury News - - Front Page - By Casey Tolan ctolan@ba­yare­anews­group.com

Elec­tion Day may have just come this week, but East Bay Rep. Eric Swal­well is al­ready think­ing about 2020.

Swal­well is se­ri­ously con­sid­er­ing run­ning for pres­i­dent, and says he ex­pects to make a de­ci­sion about whether to jump in the race “right around the turn of the year.”

“While we may have a lot of sea­soned vet­er­ans run­ning, I think this is go­ing to be an elec­tion about the fu­ture,” Swal­well, D-Dublin, said in an in­ter­view. “We can’t count on the same old lead­ers to solve the same old prob­lems — it’s go­ing to take new en­ergy and new ideas and a new con­fi­dence to do that.”

The 2020 race could fea­ture a boat­load of Cal­i­for­ni­ans, in­clud­ing Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris, Los An­ge­les Mayor Eric Garcetti, Demo­cratic megadonor Tom Steyer and bom­bas­tic lawyer Michael Ave­natti, all of whom have also cam­paigned in Iowa.

Among that group, Swal­well, 37, is the youngest — and would be the youngest pres­i­dent ever elected by three years. Un­daunted by the odds, he is headed to Iowa this week­end for his 13th trip to the po­lit­i­cally piv­otal state since Pres­i­dent Trump took of­fice. He’s cam­paigned with Democrats up and down the bal­lot over the last two years, in­clud­ing con­gres­sional can­di­dates Abby Finke­nauer and Cindy Axne, whose vic­to­ries on Tues­day helped the party win back the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Only one pres­i­dent, James Garfield, has ever leapt di­rectly from the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the White House. But Swal­well ar­gued that he’s ex­pe­ri­enced enough to be taken se­ri­ously, point­ing to the fact that he will have served in Congress for eight years as of Jan­uary 2021 and has worked on high-pro­file na­tional se­cu­rity is­sues as a mem­ber of the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee.

“I wouldn’t do it un­less I thought I could win,” Swal­well said. “If you’re do­ing it as a van­ity project, or to seek some other seat, there’s bet­ter ways to do that than tak­ing your fam­ily and your­self through the vice that is a pres­i­den­tial run.”

Be­fore be­ing elected to Congress, Swal­well worked as a pros­e­cu­tor in the Alameda County Dis­trict At­tor­ney’s of­fice and served as a mem­ber of the city coun­cil in his home­town, Dublin.

One big down­side to a run, Swal­well said, would be miss­ing out on time with his two young chil­dren. His son Nel­son is a year and half old, while his daugh­ter Kathryn (nick­named “Cricket”) was born last month. His wife Brit­tany works full time as a sales

di­rec­tor for Ritz-Carl­ton ho­tels, and her ma­ter­nity leave ends near the start of the year.

Swal­well said he saw the im­pact a pres­i­den­tial run can have on a fam­ily when he cam­paigned with for­mer Mary­land Gov. Mar­tin O’Mal­ley, who has four chil­dren, dur­ing his 2016 bid.

“It would be hard to be away dur­ing the early, de­vel­op­ing years of their lives,” Swal­well said of his kids. “But you also weigh that their lives and their fu­ture could be brighter if your vi­sion is a win­ning vi­sion.”

Swal­well, who was born in Iowa and spent the first few years of his life there, is al­ready mak­ing an im­pres­sion in the Hawk­eye State. Vikki Brown, the chair of the Black Hawk County Demo­cratic Party in the state’s north­east, said she’d met him in per­son mul­ti­ple times, in­clud­ing get­ting cof­fee with him one-on-one.

“I think he would make a

fan­tas­tic can­di­date,” Brown said. “He’s so per­son­able — talk­ing to him is just like talk­ing to a neigh­bor.”

The con­gress­man’s cam­paign and lead­er­ship PAC have also do­nated or raised more than $115,000 for Iowa Democrats, and he sent a full-time staffer to work on midterm cam­paigns in the state.

He’s taken a gran­u­lar in­ter­est in Iowa pol­i­tics, go­ing as far as to send $100 to the cam­paign of Kyle McGlade, who won a seat on the Coun­cil Bluffs School Board last year at the age of 23. McGlade said he met with Swal­well twice dur­ing his run, when no other politi­cians out­side the state had given him any at­ten­tion.

“It shows that he re­ally cares about build­ing up the base,” McGlade said.

But an­other Demo­cratic Party of­fi­cial in Iowa, who asked not to be named in or­der to speak can­didly, said Swal­well was “too young and try­ing too hard,”

show­ing up at party events so of­ten that some ac­tivists were start­ing to get tired of him.

In fact, Swal­well has al­ready been fea­tured in a po­lit­i­cal at­tack ad in the state. The Iowa Re­pub­li­can Party aired a TV ad last month against Demo­cratic state se­nate can­di­date Vicky Bren­ner fo­cus­ing on the fact that Swal­well cam­paigned with her and de­scrib­ing him as a “lib­eral San Fran­cisco con­gress­man” who “wants to con­fis­cate guns from lawabid­ing Amer­i­cans.” (Swal­well has pro­posed leg­is­la­tion that would force as­sault weapon own­ers to sell their firearms back to the gov­ern­ment.) Bren­ner lost her race, al­though lo­cal ob­servers say her cam­paign was al­ready a long shot be­fore the at­tacks.

Swal­well, who’s be­come a fix­ture on cable news bash­ing the pres­i­dent over the last two years, said he would fo­cus a po­ten­tial pres­i­den­tial run on am­bi­tious

pro­pos­als like big new in­vest­ments in med­i­cal re­search and green en­ergy in­fra­struc­ture.

“We’ve kind of seen too much in­cre­men­tal­ism,” he said. “I think there’s an ap­petite among the Amer­i­can peo­ple to see some­one who can unite us though big ideas.”

One thing that Swal­well ar­gues dif­fer­en­ti­ates him­self from other po­ten­tial White House con­tenders is that he’s “con­nected to what ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans are go­ing through,” grow­ing up in a work­ing-class fam­ily and still pay­ing off nearly $100,000 in stu­dent loan debt.

“The wa­ter’s warm, and it’s go­ing to be com­pet­i­tive,” Swal­well said of the 2020 race. “I ac­tu­ally like that we’re go­ing to have a crowded pri­mary — that’s bet­ter than a corona­tion. With a field that big, most qual­i­fied can­di­dates are go­ing to get an au­di­tion.”


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