Election: 15th Congressional District

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, is being challenged in his bid for a 21st congressional term by fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell. Stark on Friday posted the first in a series of web videos called "Answering the Tough Questions."

What's the claim?

This first video's topic is, "Why do you have a reputation for having a sharp tongue?" His answer is that he gets emotionally involved in the things he cares about, that not everyone likes his sense of humor and that he gets irritated when people stand in the way of opportunities for young people and seniors. Stark says he'll fight back when provoked.

Is it true?

Almost certainly. But the video raises as many "tough questions" as it answers. It wasn't Stark's "sharp tongue" that had local voters and national pundits looking with a jaundiced eye upon the octogenarian Stark in the spring and summer. It was his series of unfounded accusations, later retracted, that Swalwell had accepted bribes as a Dublin councilman; that conservative San Francisco columnist Debra Saunders had contributed to Swalwell's campaign; and so on. The video also raises the question of why, if Stark is answering "tough questions," he has refused to debate Swalwell again since the June primary.

-- Josh Richman, Staff