Stark Explodes on Ex-Legislator Backing His Opponent
HAYWARD, Calif. -- A former California state lawmaker said Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., threatened his career and his family, questioned his religious faith and accused him of being mentally ill after he told the 40-year incumbent he was endorsing his opponent this November.
Alberto Torrico, the former majority leader of the California Assembly, told National Journal on Tuesday that Stark, 80, exploded in anger when he called to inform him he was backing Stark's Democratic opponent, 31-year old Dublin city councilman Eric Swalwell.
"Probably, for the next five, ten minutes he lit into me. I don't think I said more than three words," said Torrico, a Democrat who said he has supported Stark for the last decade.
After "calling me a turncoat," Torrico said that Stark "questioned my mental health. He asked me if I was well, if I was ill. He said that he was concerned for the safety of my children, that maybe he should send a social worker to my house to check on their safety because I'm clearly ill."
Stark's alleged remarks to Torrico are only the latest in a string of erratic missteps that have left the veteran lawmaker in trouble as he fights for reelection in a new district and under new election rules in California that have allowed two Democrats to advance to the November general election. Earlier this year, Stark accused Swalwell of taking bribes in a debate and accused a local columnist of donating to his opponent.
Stark had to apologize in both instances. Torrico said it was those missteps that led him to endorse Swalwell in the first place.