This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.

Jan. 7

It seems House Democratic leaders aren't holding Rep. Eric Swalwell's unseating of a veteran fellow Democrat against him, after all.

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., today named Swalwell, D-Dublin, as an assistant whip, saying he'll "bring a fresh perspective" to the whip team. "I look forward to working with him to advance the priorities of the American people, including efforts to promote job creation and strengthen the middle class," Hoyer said.

Swalwell issued a news release thanking Hoyer for the honor. "I look forward to working with the House Democratic Leadership and all of my colleagues to advance common sense solutions to our nation's problems. I believe my youthful energy and new ideas will help our party and our country move forward in the 113th Congress."

Assistant whips are responsible for informing their fellow Democratic members about, and getting them in line for, upcoming legislation that will be considered in the House.


Advertisement

Swalwell, 32, beat 20-term incumbent Pete Stark, D-Fremont, in November's election. Stark had been supported for re-election by House Democratic leaders, and some have speculated that those leaders might give the freshman Swalwell a cold shoulder. Though he'd asked for a seat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, he was assigned instead to Science, Space and Technology -- a good fit, considering his district includes the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory -- and Homeland Security.

Jan. 10

A California gun-rights leader sarcastically thanked Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., this morning for driving more people into the arms of the National Rifle Association with her promise to reinstate a federal assault weapons ban and said the NRA is actually too liberal for his tastes.

Minutes later, news began to break about a shooting at a Kern County high school.

California Right to Carry president Charles Nichols, of Torrance, claimed in an email that NRA leaders are "dancing with joy" as "100,000 people have joined the so-called gun-rights organization in the last 18 days thanks to the ultraliberal leftist Senior Senator from the left-coast state of California who announced that she will soon be introducing a bill that would either ban or require the registration of nearly every handgun, rifle and shotgun ever made. That's a minimum of $2,500,000.00 into the coffers of the NRA from new memberships sold in just the last 18 days alone."

But Nichols wrote that the NRA is unlikely to spend a lot of money fighting the legislation and claimed the organization has been too soft on past legislation and lawsuits.

"Ironically, the NRA also supports Gun Free School Zones despite what its spokesmen may say on TV," he wrote. "What the NRA says to the public and what it says in legal briefs are two completely different things. ... Senator Feinstein thinks it would be drastic but I suspect many members of the NRA believe that gun free zones should be abolished along with prohibitions on carrying loaded firearms in public."

I got that email at 9:27 a.m. The Associated Press reports the shooting at Taft Union High School in Taft (near Bakersfield) happened around 9 a.m.

"Today comes word of another tragic shooting at an American school. I have visited this school over the years -- in fact, my own father attended Taft Union," Feinstein, wrote later this morning. "At this moment my thoughts and prayers are with the victims, and I wish them a speedy recovery. But how many more shootings must there be in America before we come to the realization that guns and grievances do not belong together?"