Pete Stark is in trouble.
For years, Stark has represented California’s 13th congressional district in the House of Representatives. He has served since 1973. He’s currently the longest serving member of Congress from California.
But now there’s a rule change in effect:
In 2010, California’s voters approved Proposition 14, which replaced the conventional party primaries with a different system known as “Top Two,” copied from Washington state. Under this system, which took effect last year, all candidates appear on the same ballot, with their respective party labels next to their names, and the top two voter-getters advance to the general election, with the possibility of two Democrats or two Republicans facing off in very safe districts.
Yesterday, three candidates for the redrawn 15th congressional district in California — Stark included — faced off in a primary. Stark and his Democratic opponent, Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell, took the top two spots and they’ll face off again in November.
Take a look at those results. Yes, Stark is on top, but by a relatively slim margin. Those ~15,000 voters who voted for Chris Pareja now have to vote for either Stark or Swalwell in November and that’s more than enough people to erase the ~4,000 vote difference between the two Democrats and swing the election away from Stark.
Swalwell is ecstatic over the results:
“We survived this first heat, we’re moving on, and we kept the incumbent under 50 percent,” an elated Swalwell said Tuesday night. “A lot of Democrats may have voted for Stark because that’s what they knew, but we’re confident that in six more months we can talk to them and earn their votes as well.”
It’s hard to imagine any voters who backed the tea party-friendly Pareja will leapfrog over the somewhat more moderate Swalwell to embrace Stark, a liberal paragon, in November.
If we lose Stark, we lose the only openly-non-theistic Congress member we have.
One way you can help keep him in office is by donating to his campaign.