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Why This Member Has Rubber Ducks on His Desk

Stylings most fowl in Swalwell's office. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Like most members, Rep. Eric Swalwell has put personal touches on his Capitol Hill office.  

The two-term California Democrat has a rack of wine bottles from vineyards in his district on display and a simple crucifix hanging above the door.  

Unlike most members, a modest collection of small, rubber ducks sits at the edge of his desk.  

The menagerie has an origin story from his first congressional campaign, when he was preparing to participate in an East Bay tradition known as the “Rodeo Parade.”  

“They opted against [giving out] candy because it’s unhealthy,” a representative from the office explained to CQ Roll Call, “and decided to hand out rodeo-themed ducks.”  

The yellow quackers, adorned with hats and bandanas to resemble cowboys, also carried slips of campaign literature tied with ribbons around their necks. The ducks were a hit with kids — and their parents.  

A quick Google search revealed that Swalwell’s opponent at the time, octogenarian and 20-term Democratic incumbent Rep. Pete Stark, had a different take, calling his opponent a hypocrite for passing out cheap trinkets made in China.  

“Rebuilding American manufacturing is key to rebuilding our economy, so are Eric’s rubber duckies made in the U.S.? No, not at all,” a Stark campaign statement read, according to local news reports back in 2012 .  

Swalwell got the last laugh when he defeated Stark in November 2012. He continues to give ducks out at special events. Sometimes he switches up the theme, passing out presidential lookalike plastic fowl or ones painted with American flags.  

And now he has a collection of his own.  

Related: Outsider-Turned-Insider Eric Swalwell Tasked With Youth Outreach The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.