Eric Swalwell

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Eric Swalwell
Eric Swalwell 114th official photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 15th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Pete Stark
Personal details
Born Eric Michael Swalwell Jr.
(1980-11-16) November 16, 1980 (age 36)
Sac City, Iowa, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Brittany Watts (m. 2016)
Education Campbell University
University of Maryland,
College Park
University of Maryland,
Website House website

Eric Michael Swalwell Jr. /ˈswɔːlˌwɛl/ (born November 16, 1980) is an American politician from California, who serves as the U.S. Representative from California's 15th congressional district. He is a member of the Democratic Party. His district covers most of eastern Alameda County, including Castro Valley, Hayward, Pleasanton, Livermore, Fremont, San Ramon, and his hometown of Dublin. He was elected in November 2012, defeating incumbent Pete Stark, a fellow Democrat almost a half-century Swalwell's senior, who had held the office since 1973. Swalwell took office on January 3, 2013.[1][2][3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Swalwell was born in Sac City, Iowa and raised in Dublin, California.[5] He graduated from Dublin High School in 1999.[6]

He attended Campbell University in North Carolina on a soccer scholarship from 1999 to 2001.[7][8] He lost the scholarship after suffering an injury.[5] He then transferred to the University of Maryland, College Park.[7] In 2003, he received a bachelor's degree in Government and Politics at Maryland, and in 2006 earned his J.D. degree from the University of Maryland School of Law. He served on the College Park, Maryland city council as its student representative.[9]

In 2014, Swalwell announced that he would serve as chairman of Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley's O' Say Can You See PAC's Young Professionals Leadership Circle due to his friendship with the governor. He made clear that his support was about the 2014 midterm elections and not an endorsement of a potential presidential bid by O'Malley in 2016.[10] However, Swalwell did ultimately endorse O'Malley in July 2015.[11]

Local political career[edit]

In 2001 and 2002, Swalwell interned for U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher D-CA 10th, in Washington, D.C., focusing on legislative research and constituent outreach and services.[9] He worked as an Alameda County deputy district attorney, a Dublin planning commissioner, and a Dublin city councilman.[4][5][12]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

2012 campaign[edit]

Representative Eric Swalwell on the Capitol Hill steps with friends, family, and campaign staff.

In September 2011, Swalwell filed papers to run for Congress in the 15th District. The district had previously been the 13th, represented by 20-term incumbent Pete Stark, a fellow Democrat. Stark had represented the district since 1973, seven years before Swalwell was born. He took a leave of absence from the Dublin city council in order to run for the seat.[5] While he was running for the seat, an attempted recall of Swalwell from the Dublin City Council was begun, but after he won election to US House, the attempt was abandoned.

Swalwell was endorsed by the San Francisco Chronicle.[12][13] During the 2012 election cycle, Swalwell was accused by the Stark campaign of being a Tea Party candidate. The accusation was refuted by Swalwell and the San Jose Mercury News, which also endorsed Swalwell.[14] Stark refused to debate Swalwell during the campaign. In response to Stark's refusal to debate, Swalwell organized a mock debate with an actor playing Pete Stark, quoting him verbatim when answering the moderator. Other campaign gimmicks included Chinese-manufactured rubber ducks, and a dreadlocked, bearded information man.[4][15][16] Swalwell was able to contest Stark in the general election because of a new primary system in California. Under that new system, the top two primary vote-getters (Stark and Swalwell, in this case) advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.[17]

In the November 2012 election, Swalwell defeated Stark, 52.1% to 47.9%.[18]

Committee assignments[edit]

U.S. House career[edit]

On December 12, 2013, Swalwell introduced the Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act into the House.[19] The bill allowed Americans to deduct from their 2013 taxes any charitable donations made between January 1, 2014, and April 15, 2014, provided they were made for the relief of victims in the Republic of the Philippines affected by Typhoon Haiyan.[19] The typhoon did an estimated $1 billion in damage and killed thousands of people.[20] Swawell said that "Typhoon Haiyan devastated many parts of the Philippines and we should make it as easy as possible for Americans who want to assist those affected by the storm."[20] Swalwell saw the bill as providing "another incentive for Americans to donate and donate now - when their help is needed most."[20] On March 25, 2014, this legislation was signed into law by President Obama.[21]

During a House vote on June 18, 2013,[22] Swalwell recorded a video of his vote against a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks to his mobile phone (the video was a six-second clip of him pressing the "nay" button on the electronic voting machine) and uploaded it to Vine, an internet video service.[23] House rules bar "the use of mobile electronic devices that impair decorum" and provide that "No device may be used for still photography or for audio or video recording."[23] Swalwell defended the action, stating "We operate under rules that were created in the eighteenth century, and I think it's time that the Congress start to act more like regular Americans do. I did not see this as impairing the decorum. I think what this did was highlight, for all to see, the democratic process."[23]

In December 2016, Swalwell was named the co-chair of Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, serving with Rosa DeLauro.[24]

Political positions[edit]

Swalwell has advocated the repeal of the No Child Left Behind Act, and increasing funding for education, while decreasing funding for defense. He has also advocated for renewable energy jobs to be created with federal stimulus money. He has stated he would attempt to raise the cap on the Social Security payroll tax (which currently applies to annual earnings only up to $110,000 as of 2012), so that wealthier Americans would pay more into the program. He has proposed the idea of a "mobile Congress," with members casting votes remotely, while spending more time in their districts.[25][26] In March 2013, Swalwell led in the writing of an open letter to John S. Pistole, Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), opposing the new policy which would allow passengers to bring knives on-board airplanes.[27] He is an LGBT supporter and pro-choice.[28]

Personal life[edit]

Swalwell and his first wife are divorced. He married Brittany Watts, a sales director at the Ritz-Carlton in Half Moon Bay, California, in October 2016.[29] Their first son, Eric Nelson, was born in May 2017.[30]


  1. ^ Lochhead, Carolyn. "Pete Stark behind Eric Swalwell in early returns". Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  2. ^ "U.S. House of Representatives District 15 districtwide results". Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Dublin High School Alumni Eric Swalwell Defeats 40-Year Congressman Pete Stark". 
  4. ^ a b c "Election 2012: Eric Swalwell defeats 20-term Rep. Pete Stark". Retrieved November 8, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c d "Eric Swalwell – Election 2012". Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Eric Swalwell Jr. profile". 
  7. ^ a b "Eric Swalwell: Members of Congress". Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Biography". Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Dublin Councilman Eric Swalwell seeking congressional seat in 2012 election". Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  10. ^ Memoli, Michael. "California Rep. Swalwell says he joined O'Malley for 2014, not 2016". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 2, 2014. 
  11. ^ Easley, Jonathan. "O'Malley nets first congressional endorsement". Retrieved July 26, 2015. 
  12. ^ a b "Eric Swalwell for 15th District". SFGate. October 12, 2012. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  13. ^ Miranda S. Spivack (December 29, 2011). "Maryland grad and California prosecutor challenges House veteran Pete Stark". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Political Blotter: Eric Swalwell a tea partier? Um, no.". November 2, 2012. Retrieved November 7, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Risks Of Kids In Campaign Discourse; Swalwell's Moneyball Run For Congress". 
  16. ^ "Rubber Duckies: The Mother's Milk of Politics". 
  17. ^ Onishi, Norimitsu (September 24, 2012). "'Top-Two' Election Change in California Upends Races". California: Retrieved November 15, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Office of the California Secretary of State" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 19, 2013. Retrieved January 21, 2014. 
  19. ^ a b "H.R. 3771 - Summary". United States Congress. Retrieved March 21, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b c Kasperowicz, Pete (March 20, 2014). "House looks to boost Philippines typhoon recovery efforts". The Hill. Retrieved March 21, 2014. 
  21. ^ Michaela Del Callar, Obama signs law allowing American donors to claim deductions on Yolanda donations, GMA News (March 26, 2014).
  22. ^ "Rep. Swalwell Vine Vote". 
  23. ^ a b c Joan E. Greve (June 20, 2013). "Rep. Swalwell Defends Uploading Vote Video to Vine". 
  24. ^ Walsh, Jeremy (December 8, 2016). "Swalwell named to party leadership post: Youngest co-chair of Democratic Steering and Policy Committee". Pleasanton Weekly. Retrieved March 24, 2017. 
  25. ^ "Eric Swalwell - Candidate for U.S. President, Republican Nomination - Election 2012". Retrieved November 15, 2012. 
  26. ^ Josh Richman, Rep. Pete Stark faces challenge from young Democrat and tea party independent, East Bay Times (May 21, 2012): "Swalwell said he would save Social Security by raising the payroll tax cap from its current $110,000 and raise the retirement age to better reflect life expectancies."
  27. ^ "March 2013 Press Release". 
  28. ^ "Eric Swalwell recommended for House". The San Francisco Chronicle. May 4, 2012. Retrieved July 24, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Brittany Watts, Eric Swalwell". The New York Times. October 16, 2016. Retrieved April 2, 2017. 
  30. ^

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Pete Stark
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 15th congressional district

Party political offices
Preceded by
Donna Edwards
Chair of the House Democratic Policy Committee
Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Chris Stewart
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Mark Takano