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Pols—or Metaphors?

What these congressional candidates represent is as significant as who they are.

 From left: Jimmy Panetta, Eric Swalwell, Barbara Lee, and Scott Jones


Editor's Note: This is one of many stories about politics that San Francisco is publishing over the next month, all part of the October 2016 Democracy Issue. To peruse the rest of the issue's contents, and to read stories as they become available online, click here.

The Scion
When your father’s résumé lists “director of the CIA” and “secretary of defense,” your family name is an asset. Jimmy Panetta, son of Leon, is hoping to build on that name, and make his own, as he runs for retiring U.S. representative Sam Farr’s seat in California’s District 20. Jimmy, currently the deputy district attorney for Monterey County, has the same progressive values as his father, but he’s also a navy veteran who took a leave of absence to serve on active duty in Afghanistan. Panetta took home 70 percent of the vote in June’s primary and is currently polling way ahead of Republican rival Casey Lucius, making him a likely shoo-in.

The Millennial
How does a Gen Y congressman keep constituents in the loop? Through Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, of course. At 35, Representative Eric Swalwell is one of the youngest members of Congress, bucking the trend of an institution whose members’ average age, now 59, has increased regularly over the last two decades. Swalwell hails from Dublin in California’s 15th Congressional District, where he lets residents track his location using the geotag app Foursquare and frequently hosts local events like Ice Cream with Your Congressman and Congress on Your Corner. The incumbent is facing off against 29-year-old Danny Turner, who as of June 30 had raised a game-over total of $555 to Swalwell’s $1.5 million.

The Radical
Whether or not the Democrats maintain control of the White House come November, their platform is the most progressive in party history—thanks in part to Representative Barbara Lee of California’s 13th Congressional District. Lee helped craft the platform, which includes a $15-per-hour federal minimum wage and a carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions. Elected in 1998, Lee became famous in 2001 as the only member of Congress to vote against authorizing the use of military force following the 9/11 attacks. She is consistently ranked as one of the most liberal members of Congress—some say the most liberal.

The Mini-Trump
It’s been a rough campaign thus far for Republican Sacramento County sheriff Scott Jones, who is running against incumbent Democrat Ami Bera to represent California’s 7th Congressional District. Jones’s right-wing platform, which calls for “securing the borders” and freezing the minimum wage, has been overshadowed by scandals. In May, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department lost a nearly $3.6 million lawsuit by four female deputies who alleged rampant sexism within the department. Then, in July, it was revealed that a female subordinate had previously accused Jones of unwanted sexual advances. But Bera has his own scandal issues, and this race may go down to the wire.


Originally published in the October issue of San Francisco 

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