Politics Now

California Rep. Swalwell says he joined O'Malley for 2014, not 2016

Rep. Eric Swalwell takes on role with Maryland governor's political organization.

Ready for a "Ready for Martin" movement?

This isn't quite that, but a California congressman has taken on a leadership role with the budding political organization of Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a potential challenger to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.

For Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), his new role with O'Malley's O' Say Can You See PAC is about his friendship with the two-term governor, whom he considers a political mentor, as well as O'Malley's work to help put Democrats back in the majority of the House this November.

"For a freshman in the minority right now, it's not a lot of fun being under this right-wing Republican Congress," Swalwell said in an interview. "Anyone who can really lead, the way he has, and invest in the future of our party, the way that he has demonstrated he can do, I think is good for us."

O'Malley and his political action committee have donated or raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Democratic House and Senate candidates this cycle. The two-term governor, who leaves office early next year, has also become a regular headliner for state Democratic party events -- including the California Democratic convention in June.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), whose father and brother were also mayors of Baltimore, attended a fund-raising retreat held by O'Malley's PAC in late July to benefit House Democratic incumbents and challengers.

Swalwell kicked off his role as chairman of the O'Malley PAC's Young Professionals Leadership Council at a fund-raising reception Tuesday in Washington. Several of his Democratic colleagues were among the nearly 300 in attendance.

The 33-year-old congressman, who won election in 2012 by unseating veteran Rep. Pete Stark, has known O'Malley for more than a decade. They met when Swalwell was a student at the University of Maryland and then its law school. He worked on O'Malley's campaign for mayor of Baltimore and then his first gubernatorial campaign in 2006.

O'Malley has a "results-oriented, data-driven approach" to governing that will appeal to younger voters, Swalwell said.

"Raising the minimum wage in Maryland, passing the Dream Act in Maryland, signing marriage equality into law -- those three things certainly haven't happened in Congress, certainly haven't happened in the majority of states across the country," he said.

O'Malley, he said, believes "the shortest distance between two points is a straight line -- not a partisan one; it's a collaborative one."

A number of Democratic lawmakers have signed on to support Ready for Hillary, a super PAC that is laying the groundwork to support a presidential bid by the former first lady, New York senator and secretary of state.

But Swalwell stressed that his involvement with O'Malley's PAC was not an indication of whom he might back in a fight for the presidential nomination. His focus was on serving his constituents and winning elections this November, he said, adding that he had reached out to Clinton to invite her to join him for similar discussions with young professionals.

"I'm ready for the majority -- that's what I'm ready for," he said. "And I think they're both committed to getting us there."

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