It's time for Rep. Pete Stark to pack it in. Facing his toughest challenge since first winning a House seat 40 years ago, the 80-year-old Fremont congressman has demonstrated amazing recklessness by making libelous and unsubstantiated campaign accusations.
It's the sort of embarrassing behavior that hurts his effectiveness on Capitol Hill and made colleagues so uncomfortable that they passed over him two years ago for the chairmanship of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.
It's no longer acceptable. He needs to go.
Voters should elect Eric Swalwell, an Alameda County prosecutor and Dublin councilman, to provide the heavily Democratic East Bay congressional district fresh and effective representation. Swalwell cut his political teeth as an intern to then-Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a moderate who worked effectively with members of both parties.
A more centrist Democrat than Stark, Swalwell provides a midpoint in the three-person race. Chris Pareja, a Hayward businessman whose political views often line up with the tea party, is the candidate on the political right.
We're impressed by Swalwell's pragmatism as a city councilman and his restraint in the face of Stark's wild charges. After public anger over the congressman's first allegations, Stark issued an apology in which he inexplicably leveled new accusations. Under our questioning Thursday, he acknowledged he similarly had no proof for the latest claims.
In contrast, the other East Bay incumbent facing a serious challenge, Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, focuses on policy issues. Since his surprise 2006 victory, McNerney, a soft-spoken mathematician, has proved to be a centrist who thoughtfully discusses the nuances of the country's complex problems.
While we endorse McNerney without reservation, we note that one of his two Republican opponents, John McDonald, was well-prepared and articulately engaged from a more conservative perspective. The third candidate, Ricky Gill, a well-funded 24-year-old from a Lodi farming family, often stuck to talking points.
In other East Bay races, we endorse: