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Speier votes no on war-funding bill

Spokesman Mike Larsen has confirmed that Rep. Jackie Speier voted against a $106 billion bill Tuesday to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Speier did so despite some “mild” lobbying from the White House and the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said Larsen, who noted that ending the war in Iraq and bringing home the troops was her top issue when campaigning for office last year.

“This didn’t seem to be much different than plans in the past,” Larsen said. “She felt it was a vote for another open-ended war.”

The bill still needs to pass the Senate.

Posted on Tuesday, June 16th, 2009
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Jackie Speier | No Comments »

Eshoo scolded for single-payer stance

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, is the subject of some harsh criticism from blogger “sworddance” over at the Daily Kos, the liberal political blog, for ruling out the idea of a single-payer option before the process of crafting a bill to overhaul the health care system has even begun.

Eshoo apparently feels there aren’t enough votes in Congress for the single-payer option, further evidence for disappointed progressives that hope for true universal health care at this time is all but dead.

Sworddance points out that Eshoo received roughly $725,000 in campaign contributions from the health care industry in the 2008 cycle and claims: “Rep. Anna Eshoo backs insurance companies over humans.”

We’ll give Eshoo’s office a call later this week for more on her position on the single-payer option.

Tonight at 7, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, is holding her telephone town-hall meeting on health care. To participate, call 877-229-8493 and enter the number 13867 when prompted.

Posted on Wednesday, June 10th, 2009
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, Anna Eshoo, Democratic Party, San Mateo County | 1 Comment »

Democrats say: Put it to a vote!

The San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee has adopted a resolution urging the county to hold an open election to fill the seat of departing Supervisor Jerry Hill, who is off to Sacramento, rather than make an appointment.

“The person who is elected or appointed to fill Jerry Hill’s seat will likely remain on the (Board of Supervisors) until he or she is termed out in 2022,” committee member Nick Akers, author of the resolution, said in a statement.

“Our county’s at-large system for electing supervisors gives a strong advantage to incumbents,” Akers continued. “It has been nearly three decades since a supervisor running for re-election has been defeated. The people of San Mateo County should be given the opportunity to fill this open seat.”

Committee members voted “overwhelmingly” on Nov. 20 in favor of the resolution for an election. They’re looking to peg a special county election to an anticipated special statewide election in June 2009.

Not that the San Mateo County government has a reputation for being clubby and nontransparent — cough, cough — but the Insider agrees with local Democrats that holding an election to fill the seat of Assemblyman Hill, irrespective of the cost, would be the democratic thing to do.

Posted on Monday, December 1st, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, 2008 Local Races, Aaron Kinney, Assembly, Board of Supervisors, Democratic Party, Elections Office, Gene Mullin, Jerry Hill, Political Campaigns, San Mateo County, Warren Slocum | No Comments »

Eshoo looks ahead to Obama administration

Rep. Anna Eshoo plans to be right in the middle of an ambitious Democratic agenda when President-elect Barack Obama takes office in January.

Eshoo anticipates that, besides shoring up the faltering economy, Obama’s priorities are likely to include a health care plan, a “safe and honorable” withdrawal from Iraq, energy security and climate change.

Those last two items fall under the auspices of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which Eshoo joined in 1995.

“We will certainly have our hands full,” she said, “and I look forward to it.”

Eshoo said Obama’s victory on Election Day is still sinking in. She’s been struck, talking to young people, including her children and nieces and nephews, by how hopeful and enthusiastic they are about Obama and what he means for the future of the country.

The downer of the election for Eshoo, who is close friends with San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon, was the success of Proposition 8. Gordon, who paid a visit to Eshoo’s home on Election Night, married his partner over the summer.

Eshoo said she was “deeply disappointed” by the outcome. She said she received several robocalls in favor of Prop. 8 before Election Day that were filled with “hysteria and misinformation.”

But Eshoo said that, while older voters may have been swayed by the “Yes on 8″ campaign, she’s optimistic that younger generations of Californians will eventually compel the legalization of same-sex marriage.

“I think down the road, as more and more younger voters come to voting age, that this, too, will change, because ‘No on 8′ was not the least bit menacing to young people,” she said.

Posted on Wednesday, November 12th, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Menlo Park, Political Campaigns, Rich Gordon, San Mateo County | No Comments »

From the notebook: More local reactions to Obama win

Before Barack Obama’s election win recedes too far in the rearview mirror, here’s a couple bits of local reaction that didn’t make it into the paper.

In the photo above, Karen Cunningham, sporting a Barack Obama T-shirt, was captured celebrating the Democratic Party’s historic night at the victory party for Rep. Jackie Speier in Burlingame.

Meanwhile, Bill Stewart, 70, took in the election results at an NAACP-organized party at B Street Billiards in downtown San Mateo.

Stewart, a computer consultant and member of the Foster City Association of Black Residents, grew up in Memphis, Tenn., where he participated in sit-ins during the civil rights movement.

He moved to California following graduate school to work for the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View. Because of his race, he was not able to rent an apartment in Palo Alto.

On Tuesday night, Stewart said Obama’s victory struck him as “almost unbelievable.”

Stewart recalled living in the segregated South during college: “You were not allowed to try on clothes in certain stores … you couldn’t go to a lunch counter, buy a sandwich and sit down.”

“It’s a transition to a new day,” he said of the election. “What we need to do now is start working for economic parity for African-Americans.”

Posted on Thursday, November 6th, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Barack Obama, Burlingame, Democratic Party, Foster City, Hillsborough, Jackie Speier, Political Campaigns, San Mateo, San Mateo County | No Comments »

The Speier and Eshoo update

Before Jackie Speier learned about the handiness of the bicycle rickshaw, she wore out her feet Monday trekking from one event to the next in downtown Denver. She estimates she walked six miles that day, much of it in high heels. She was eventually forced to stop and buy a pair of flats to ease the pain.

John Kerry spoke at a delegates breakfast Wednesday morning and tore the roof off with a speech that was very much like the one he delivered later that day at the Pepsi Center. Speier said the speech reinforced her opinion that John McCain is an “extremist,” from foreign policy to abortion, and not a maverick.

At a lunch hosted by Sen. Barbara Boxer later that day and put on by none another than local Democratic Party insider Joe Cotchett, California’s junior senator regaled the crowd with stories of her interactions with McCain when she first got to Washington in 1992.

Boxer recalled seeing flashes of McCain’s anger on more than one occasion, said Speier, who like Barack Obama himself Thursday night questioned whether McCain has the temperament to be a steady commander in chief.

“The question I would ask is, do we really want someone like that holding on to the red phone?” said Speier.

Speier wanted to see her fellow Democrats go on the offensive against McCain during the convention. Rep. Anna Eshoo had a different approach, warning that bashing McCain too aggressively could produce a backlash.

“By the time the TVs are off with the closing of the convention, (voters) need to be left with the impression that it was thoughtful,” Eshoo said. “This is not about (a) bumper sticker mentality. That’s what the Republicans like to do, but that’s not enough. It’s about the future of our country.”

Nevertheless, Eshoo predicted Wednesday, by the end of the convention, “The lines will have been drawn.”

We’re trying to check in with both Speier and Eshoo today to see if the final 24 hours of the convention lived up to their expectations.

Posted on Friday, August 29th, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Hillsborough, Jackie Speier, Political Campaigns, Republican Party, San Mateo County | No Comments »

Speier and Eshoo in Denver

[Update: We were snowed under Thursday. We'll have a full account from Speier and Eshoo, as well as San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon, on Friday. Apologies for the delay.]

We talked Wednesday afternoon to both Reps. Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo, who shared their thoughts on Sen. Hillary Clinton’s speech Tuesday night, among other subjects.

What else did they talk about? Speier mentioned some interesting remarks that Sen. Barbara Boxer made about John McCain, while Eshoo offered up a vision for a successful finish to the Democratic National Convention that keeps McCain bashing to a minimum.

Check back here Thursday morning for more on those subject and few others.

Posted on Wednesday, August 27th, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Anna Eshoo, Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Hillsborough, Jackie Speier, Political Campaigns, Republican Party, San Mateo County | No Comments »

Tip of the Speier

Rep. Jackie Speier speaks with constituents July 19 in Pacifica

Rep. Jackie Speier speaks with constituents July 19 in Pacifica

[This post was updated Tuesday. See below.]

Rep. Jackie Speier, who is now in Denver for the Democratic National Convention, paid a visit to the Times last week to provide an update on her first year in Washington.

Speier touched on several topics over the course of about 45 minutes, starting with the first federal bill she’s authored, an attempt to lower America’s oil consumption by setting a national speed limit of 60 mph in urban regions and 65 mph in rural areas.

The legislation has sparked a bit of an outcry, which is understandable, since Americans love their cars and love to drive fast. Great numbers of U.S. citizens enjoy watching automobiles drive in a circle for hours, and they’ll pay large sums and absorb near-fatal doses of sunlight to do it.

But Speier said she’s not deterred by the criticism.

“I’m not there to make friends,” she said. “I’m there to do the people’s work.”

Speier said reducing oil consumption is the sort of thing that’s missing right now from the national debate about energy, with Republicans screaming for offshore oil drilling that won’t yield its miniscule benefits for more than a decade and Democrats pushing for alternative-energy incentives.

Speier acknowledged that it’s unlikely H.R. 6458 will get a hearing during the September congressional session, meaning the bill may not get off the ground until next year.

In case you were wondering, all of Highway 101 from San Jose to San Francisco would be a 60 mph zone, according to federal guidelines for defining urban and rural areas.

Speier also offered her take on a subject that’s had many liberals on edge for weeks: Barack Obama’s recent inability or unwillingness to counter the relentless attacks from his Republican opponent’s newly dirty campaign.

(As Paul Krugman of the New York Times wrote on Monday, “many Democrats have had the sick feeling that once again their candidate brought a knife to a gunfight.”)

It had been one bad news cycle after another for Obama during the month of August, at least until last week when John McCain forgot how many houses he and his wife own and cable TV news shows began obsessing about Obama’s choice for vice president.

But Speier said she’s confident that Obama will pull out of it. Obama is a quick study, she said, and he’s more aggressive in responding to political attacks than John Kerry was in 2004.

“The truth is the public loves a competition,” Speier said of the presidential race. “They want it to be close right now.”

(The Insider happens to agree with this assessment, but only if you substitute the word “media” for the word “public.”)

“They’re swiftboating” Obama, Speier said of the McCain campaign, which is now being run by political operatives who learned their trade at the hooves, er, feet, of Karl Rove.

The common perception in 2004 was that Kerry’s biggest strength was his military experience, which could protect him from Republican smears suggesting he hated America and despised the troops.

Obama’s biggest strength is his personal magnetism, which makes McCain look creaky and creepy by comparison, so the McCain team has launched its “celebrity” ads to turn Obama’s star power against him, Speier said.

“You take someone’s absolute strength and try to wrap it around their neck and choke them,” said Speier.

Speier said Obama needs to frame the election around the Supreme Court, since the next president will choose as many as two or three justices. The choices to replace the justices who are on the verge of retirement will have a major impact for “the rest of this century,” Speier said.

UPDATE:

A few other observations from the interview.

– Regarding an account we’d heard indicating that Speier has been surprised by the arduousness of her commute to and from Washington, Speier confirmed that, especially in the first months, the travel has been hard.

When Congress is in session, Speier typically flies to Washington first thing Monday morning and returns Friday on a late afternoon flight so she can spend the weekends with her family.

“My body doesn’t know what time zone it’s in anymore,” she said.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, August 26th, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, Activism, Barack Obama, Jackie Speier | No Comments »

This little piggy got a prize

The Insider is making its return to the Web after a pathetic absence. What’s the meaning of the above image: a metaphor for this year’s political elections, or a sly reference to our own indolence? Nope, it’s just a pretty picture.

The photo does, however, serve to preview the San Mateo County Fair, which begins Aug. 8 and features pig races. The shot above was taken June 20 at the Alameda County Fair by MediaNews photographer Doug Duran.

Posted on Thursday, July 24th, 2008
Under: 2008 Assembly Race, 2008 Congressional Race, 2008 Presidental Race, Aaron Kinney, San Mateo County | 1 Comment »

Swanky Speier

carolands-2.jpg

Mr. and Mrs. Insider paid a visit to the Carolands Chateau on Friday, at the invitation of Burlingame attorney Joe Cotchett, to attend a campaign party he threw for former state Sen. Jackie Speier, who is running for the congressional seat occupied by Rep. Tom Lantos until he died in February.

Roughly 100 to 150 people circulated around the second-floor of the mansion — which is a succession of rooms off a central atrium — sipping white wine and cocktails (no red wine allowed, for fear of stains) and munching on hors d’oeuvres.

Among those the Insider spotted at the party: San Mateo County Supervisors Mark Church and Adrienne Tissier; San Mateo police Chief Susan Manheimer; former county sheriff, and current member of the Sequoia Healthcare District Board of Directors, Don Horsley; and Robert Foucrault, the county coroner.

Speier herself, wearing a red dress with a black sash, posed for photographs with supporters in the chateau’s ridiculous wood-paneled library. Sometime after 7 p.m., guests were ushered into the ballroom for the evening’s presentation.

Cotchett spoke first, thanking the chateau’s owners, Ann and Charles Johnson (who bought the estate in 1998 and spent millions refurbishing it). He said the Johnsons were “equal opportunity employers,” since they hosted a Republican fundraiser with President Bush in late January in the exact same room.

Cotchett then introduced the emcee for the night, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who interrupted a tour hawking his memoir, “Basic Brown: My Life and Our Times,” to be there for Speier, a friend and colleague from their years together in the state legislature.

Brown said he owed many votes on “family values” issues to Speier, who would cast his votes for him when he was absent from the state Assembly. The Insider isn’t sure whether he was being serious, or if the practice he described is legal, but there you have it.

Brown also joked about being mortified that he was selling his books at Wal-Mart, which has become a major book retailer that helps authors get on best-seller lists, and encouraged anyone in the audience not to attend a book signing held at one of the stores.

Standing as he was within one of the Peninsula’s symbolic seats of wealth and power, Brown may have forgotten that tens of millions of Democratic voters nationwide shop at Wal-Mart because it’s what they can afford. That Willie Brown is a real champion of the working class, isn’t he?

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, also took a turn at the microphone before Brown turned the stage over to the evening’s main attraction, celebrated actress and singer Carol Channing.

As a member of Generation X, the Insider is not overly familiar with Channing’s oeuvre, but the stories and impressions from early in her career were pretty funny; and the fact that she’s still performing at the age of 87 is impressive.

One thought that came to mind following the party was that Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig proved how smart a guy he is by deciding not to enter the race against Speier, despite the pleas of online supporters.

Because the roster of Jackie-ites Friday in Hillsborough was further evidence that whoever steps in front of the Speier juggernaut this spring will be squashed like a bug.

Posted on Thursday, March 6th, 2008
Under: 2008 Congressional Race, Aaron Kinney, Adrienne Tissier, Anna Eshoo, Assembly, Board of Supervisors, Coroner, Democratic Party, Hillsborough, Mark Church, San Mateo County, Tom Lantos | No Comments »