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Regrets, I’ve had a few…

By Josh Richman
Friday, January 22nd, 2016 at 2:05 pm in Uncategorized

…but then again, too few to mention.

Well, dear Political Blotter readers, all good (?) things must come to an end.

The question mark is for you, because there’s no question that it’s been very, very good for me. I launched this blog in late 2006 to create a space for some quicker-hit, snarkier, insider-baseball items for which a full story might not be warranted, but which would make some of you out there say, “Well, how ’bout that?” (My original proposal for the blog’s name was “The Political Junkie,” but an editor didn’t like the drug connotation. Whatta stiff.)

Whatever the situation with my other work, I’ve always found more fun than frustration here on the Blotter. I’ve loved the interactivity of it, both in my ability to use links to original information, photos, videos in a more creative way than our website has allowed, and in your comments.

So I offer hearty and sincere thanks to all the most persistent, longtime readers and commenters, notably including JohnW, Marga, RRSenileColumnist, Willis James, Tom Pyke, GlenThePlumber, DanvilleDemocrat and – yes – even Elwood. (Apologies to anyone I missed.) Thanks for helping to create a community here, the most fervent wish of any blogging journalist.

Now it’s time for me to bring my contributions here, and my 24 years as a daily journalist, to a close. I’ll be starting a new job in a few weeks; I wish I could share all the details right now, but circumstances don’t permit that just yet. (And in the meantime, I shall neither confirm nor deny…)

God knows I’ve never been in it for the pay, and I still believe the work of journalism is important to a healthy community and society, but I’m just not having fun the way that I used to. I anticipate doing meaningful work and having more fun in my new career. Some consider journalism like a priesthood, from which one can only fall; I’ve never believed that, but I assume that even those who do would agree it’s no job for the half-hearted.

I hope our time here has been as good for you as it was for me. Thanks again.

P.S.: Watch this space. There’s a good chance my successor will take over the blog…

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Rep. Tom McClintock endorses Ted Cruz

By Josh Richman
Thursday, January 14th, 2016 at 1:16 pm in 2016 presidential election, U.S. House

Rep. Tom McClintock, one of California’s best-known conservatives, endorsed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for the Republican presidential nomination Thursday.

Tom McClintock“This election is too important to leave to chance,” McClintock, R-Elk Grove, said in Cruz’s news release. “Ted Cruz is the only top tier candidate we can be absolutely certain will govern conservatively and constitutionally; who will stand his ground no matter what the pressure and articulate our positions boldly and convincingly to the American people. After nearly three decades of disappointments, our next president needs to come from the Republican wing of the Republican Party.”

Cruz called McClintock “an unwavering leader in working to reduce government spending, reign in our debt and work for conservative reforms. He has consistently fought against the Washington Cartel. We need more leaders like Tom in Washington to protect conservative principles. I am thrilled to have Tom’s support in working together to restore the principles America was founded on.”

McClintock, 59, was elected to the House in 2008 after eight years in the state Senate and two stints – from 1982 to 1992 and from 1996 to 2000 – in the Assembly. He finished third behind Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrat Cruz Bustamante in California’s 2003 gubernatorial recall election, and lost 2006’s election for lieutenant governor to Democrat John Garamendi.

McClintock quit the Tea Party-dominated House Freedom Caucus in September, saying the group’s political showmanship – particularly its threats to partially or totally shut down the federal government – actually undermines conservative goals in Congress. Cruz was among key architects of the third-longest government shutdown in U.S. history, in October 2013.

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CA17: Khanna tops Honda again in fundraising

By Josh Richman
Thursday, January 14th, 2016 at 12:01 am in campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House

Democratic congressional candidate Ro Khanna significantly outraised incumbent Rep. Mike Honda in 2015’s final quarter, and now has about three times as much money banked for their electoral rematch this year, according to initial reports from both campaigns.

Both Democrats want to represent the 17th Congressional District, which lies in the heart of Silicon Valley and is the first district outside Hawaii in which Asian-Americans make up a majority of voters. Khanna, a Fremont resident who served for two years in President Barack Obama’s Commerce Department, lost 2014’s bruising, nationally watched election by 3.6 percentage points as Honda held on for an eighth term.

Ro KhannaKhanna’s campaign said Wednesday that he raised more than $500,000 and spent about $117,000 from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, leaving him with more than $1.7 million cash on hand and about $52,800 in outstanding debt.

“I am proud to see support for our campaign to strengthen the middle class create this type of enthusiasm and energy,” Khanna said in a news release. “Because we refuse to take PAC and lobbyist money, we’re going to need our grassroots support to take on the special interests and bring change to Washington. As we grow our campaign in 2016, we will continue to fund a grassroots campaign that engages and empowers the people of the 17th District.”

Khanna spent big on television ads and campaign consultants in 2014’s primary, leaving his campaign almost broke in the final weeks before that November’s general election; a super PAC called Californians for Innovation independently spent about $776,000 on his behalf to help bear him over the finish line.

Honda’s campaign said Wednesday that he raised $290,250 and spent $276,137 – a much higher burn rate than Khanna’s – in 2015’s fourth quarter, leaving him with $571,266 cash on hand and $20,907 in outstanding debt.

honda.jpgThe congressman “has raised more money at this point in the campaign cycle than in 2014, and like last time, the campaign is on track to raise the resources necessary to win this race,” campaign manager Michael Beckendorf said. “Even without the luxury of conservative millionaires and billionaires bankrolling his campaign, Mike Honda will win this race because he is the only candidate who has a track record of reaching across the aisle to deliver for Silicon Valley while standing up for justice and equality.”

But it’s not just re-election for which Honda is raising money. His campaign in the first three quarters of last year paid out a total of about $109,000 to two Washington, D.C., law firms and a San Francisco crisis-communications shop to combat the ongoing ethics investigation of which he’s a target. The House Ethics Committee is still probing whether Honda’s office and campaign broke House rules or federal laws by sharing resources, and it’s not yet known how much he paid his lawyers and spokespeople in the year’s final quarter.

Neither candidate’s full report to the Federal Election Commission is available yet; the filing deadline is Jan. 31. Khanna outraised Honda in 2015’s third, second and first quarters, too.

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Barbara Lee is running for Dem Caucus vice chair

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, January 13th, 2016 at 3:24 pm in Barbara Lee, U.S. House

Rep. Barbara Lee has launched her campaign to become the House Democratic Caucus’ vice chairwoman, asking her peers for support.

Lee, D-Oakland, official threw her name into contention for House Democrats’ fifth-highest leadership post with a letter Tuesday; Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood, declared her candidacy for the post last month. Current vice chairman Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., is limited to two terms in the post, and Democrats are expected to pick a new chairman and vice chairman soon after November’s elections.

Barbara Lee (Dec-2010)“As Vice Chair, I will work to find innovative ways to champion the issues that are important to you, your district and our caucus,” Lee wrote in her letter to fellow House Democrats. “In 2013, I identified an opportunity to expand Democratic leadership on ending poverty in America. Together with our leadership, we launched the Democratic Whip Task Force on Poverty, Income Inequality and Opportunity which works for the more than 46 million Americans struggling to make ends meet while developing pathways for these families into the middle class.”

Lee also touted her work on the Appropriations, Budget and Steering and Policy committees, as well as her stints as chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, co-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, executive board member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and vice chairwoman and founding member of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

“In these roles, I have built diverse coalitions that advance our shared Democratic values,” she wrote. “Simultaneously, I have reached across the aisle to deliver bipartisan results, such as creating the bipartisan and bicameral HIV/AIDS Caucus and authoring or co-authoring every major piece of HIV/AIDS legislation signed into law since 1998. The importance of listening to others with different points of view and new ideas has been critical in these and many other efforts.”

“It is an honor to work with you, side by side, to further our shared values and fight to ensure opportunity for all. I know firsthand the depth of your passion, talent and experience. It is this diversity of experience that is the backbone of our caucus,” she concluded. “I hope to serve you as the next Vice Chair and I look forward to continuing our discussions.”

Lee, 69, was first elected to the House in a 1998 special election to replace her mentor and longtime employer, Rep. Ron Dellums of Oakland, who retired mid-term. Earlier, she served in the state Senate from 1997 to 1998, and in the Assembly from 1991 to 1997.

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Brown names DiFi’s daughter to state Med Board

By Josh Richman
Wednesday, January 13th, 2016 at 2:53 pm in Dianne Feinstein, Gov. Jerry Brown, U.S. Senate

Katherine Feinstein – a former San Francisco County Superior Court judge, and daughter of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein – was appointed Wednesday to the Medical Board of California by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Katherine FeinsteinFeinstein, 58, of Kentfield, served in several positions within San Francisco’s courts from 2000 to 2013, including presiding judge, assistant presiding judge, supervising judge for the Unified Family Court, and trial judge for the criminal, civil, family law and juvenile delinquency divisions.

She was supervising attorney for family and children’s services at the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office from 1998 to 2000; director at the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice from 1994 to 1996; an attorney in private practice from 1991 to 1994; and an associate at Carroll, Burdick and McDonough LLP in 1989. She also worked as a San Francisco assistant district attorney from 1985 to 1988.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, Feinstein earned her law degree from the UC Hastings College of the Law. She is a Democrat.

The Medical Board of California licenses and regulates physicians and surgeons and enforces the state’s Medical Practice Act. Members are appointed by the governor but must be confirmed by the state Senate, and while serving receive a $100 per diem.

Upon announcing her retirement in 2012, Feinstein had told the San Francisco Chronicle that she would do something in public service, which could range from helping set up effective judicial systems in Africa to running for office

“Of course I’ve thought about politics. I was born thinking about politics,” she said at the time. “It’s something I’ve always shied away from. Whether I continue to shy away from it would depend on the position at this point.”

But in 2014, when asked by NBC Bay Area if she would ever consider running for office, she reaffirmed her decision to remain a private citizen. “I don’t think campaigns always bring out the best in people.”

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Lofgren leads Dems in urging stop to ICE raids

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 at 4:06 pm in Immigration, Obama presidency, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren

A Bay Area congresswoman helped lead 146 House Democrats in urging President Obama to suspend Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids targeting Central American families and children.

Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Downey; and Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., sent their letter to the White House just hours before the president was scheduled to deliver his final State of the Union address Tuesday. The entire Bay Area delegation except for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, signed the letter.

Lofgren is the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security.

The lawmakers wrote that the Department of Homeland Security operation “has generated widespread fear and panic in immigrant communities and has far-reaching impacts beyond the alleged targets for removal.” And it has raised due-process concerns “including meaningful access to legal counsel for mothers and children after apprehension and DHS officers reportedly using deceptive tactics to gain entrance into private residences,” they wrote.

“For these reasons and others, we believe that this operation should be immediately suspended until we can ensure no mother or child will be sent back to a country where they would face persecution, torture or death,” the lawmakers wrote.

The Democrats blasted the Obama administration for failing to provide a comprehensive refugee solution for those fleeing from violence in Central America.

“Your Administration has used family detention, Spanish language communication campaigns in Central America urging people not to come to the United States, and financial assistance to Mexico to deter, arrest, and return those fleeing violence,” they wrote. “This strategy has proven to be ineffective, as mothers and children continue to arrive at our Southwest border seeking refugee protection. Desperate Central American mothers and children will continue to flee to the United States and seek protection, regardless of the deterrent actions taken by this Administration.”

A regional solution to the crisis should include refugee screening and resettlement, the use of safe havens in appropriate third countries, temporary protected status for those in the United States, the use of priority refugee processing, and other humanitarian remedies, all in cooperation with other countries and non-governmental organizations, they wrote.

“The goal of this comprehensive refugee approach should be to ensure that Central American refugees, particularly mothers and children, are able to live free from an endless cycle of violence and persecution,” the lawmakers concluded. “We urge you to immediately halt the current enforcement actions towards Central American mothers and children and take steps to engage in a comprehensive effort with our hemispheric partners to address this regional refugee crisis in an appropriate humanitarian manner.”

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Your House member’s State of the Union guest

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 at 1:17 pm in Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Mike Honda, Obama presidency, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren

Here are the special guests whom Bay Area members of Congress are bringing to President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland: Black Lives Matter movement co-founder Alicia Garza

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin: Fremont Police Chief Richard Lucero, a gun-control advocate

Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough: Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist and neuropathologist who first published findings on the impact of chronic traumatic encephalopathy on football players; Omalu is portrayed by Will Smith in the film Concussion.

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord: Amanda Wilcox, the legislation and policy chair for the California Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; Wilcox’s daughter, Laura, was shot to death in 2001.

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael: Ali Rezaian, brother of Jason Rezaian, the Iranian-American journalist and Washington Post Tehran bureau chief who has been imprisoned in Iran since July 2014; the brothers are Marin County natives.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose: Irene Bueno, whose family immigrated to the United States from the Philippines; due to the slow legal process, her aunt and cousins were separated for many years. Honda will introduce family reunification immigration legislation in March.

Rep Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose: Sameena Usman, government relations coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ San Francisco Bay Area chapter.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto: Intuit CEO Brad Smith, who hosted Eshoo and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew for a tour and Q&A with company executives.

UPDATE @ 3:34 P.M.: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson earlier Tuesday questioned the wisdom of allowing two members of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights group, to attend the State of the Union. Both Lofgren and Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., brought them as invited guests.

“They have done things that are clearly, you know, not pro-American,” Carson said on CNN. “If they are our buddies, let’s put that clearly out there. And if they’re not our buddies, let’s not be giving them access to the ability to further carry on what they call a civilization jihad and to change us from a Judeo-Christian foundation to a Muslim foundation. We have got to be smarter than that.”

But Lofgren told me this afternoon that Carson’s comments are “sadly misinformed,” and she was delighted that Usman had accepted her invitation as a means of “highlighting patriotic Americans who are also Muslims.”

“She has been a terrific leader in our community for civil rights” not only among Muslims but in the Bay Area at large, Lofgren said. “To suggest somehow that she is un-American is just pathetic … It’s ignorant and sad, but luckily it’s very clear Dr. Carson will not be our president, so I guess he’s entitled to his ignorant statements.”

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Obama’s most-tweeted State of the Union lines

By Josh Richman
Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 at 12:50 pm in Barack Obama, Obama presidency

Twitter this morning released a list of the most-tweeted phrases from each of President Obama’s State of the Union addresses. Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address at 6 p.m. today.

2009 first address to Congress
“We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.”
“The nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.”
“Health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.”

2010 State of the Union
“We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions.”
“I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities.”
“I do not accept second place for the United States of America.”

2011 State of the Union
“Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love.”
“Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.”
“It’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair.”

2012 State of the Union
“With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk.”
“We should support everyone who’s willing to work, and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.”
“Women should earn equal pay for equal work.”

2013 State of the Union
“We need to build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class for all who are willing to climb them.”
“They deserve a vote.”
“Let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.”

2014 State of the Union
“It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode.”
“So join the rest of the country. Say yes. Give America a raise.”
“It’s how the son of a barkeeper is Speaker of the House; how the son of a single mom can be President of the greatest nation on Earth.”

2015 State of the Union
“I have no more campaigns to run. I know because I’ve won both of them.”
“If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, try it.”
“If you want somebody who’s going to get the job done and done right, hire a veteran.”

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John Kasich is raising funds in Silicon Valley

By Josh Richman
Monday, January 11th, 2016 at 5:20 pm in 2016 presidential election

Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich is in Silicon Valley this Monday evening for a fundraising reception.

KasichThe $1,000-to-$2,700-per-head event is at the Woodside home of Kevin Mandia, president of Milpitas-based cybersecurity firm FireEye, and his wife, Julie. The co-chairs are venture capitalists Floyd Kvamme of Saratoga and Ted Schlein of Menlo Park. The event committee includes GOP strategist and former state Sen. Jim Cunneen of San Jose; former Rep. Ed Zschau of Los Altos; venture capitalist Naren Gupta of Woodside; venture capitalist Mark Kvamme of Atherton; and attorney and independent 2012 Assembly candidate Chad Walsh of Los Gatos.

Kasich currently is in ninth place among the GOP presidential contenders with 1.8 percent support, according to an average of recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. In Iowa, he’s in ninth place with 2 percent support, but he has surged to third place in New Hampshire with 11.2 percent support, trailing only Donald Trump (30.2 percent) and Marco Rubio (13.2 percent) in the Granite State.

Billionaire Ron Burkle is scheduled to host a fundraiser for Kasich on Tuesday at Soho House, a private club in West Hollywood, Politico has reported.

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TechNet endorses Trans Pacific Partnership

By Josh Richman
Monday, January 11th, 2016 at 2:24 pm in economy, Mike Honda, U.S. House

Silicon Valley’s bipartisan political action committee endorsed the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement Monday – a pact on which Rep. Mike Honda has not yet taken a final position, and which his Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna, opposes.

TechNet, a policy and political network of tech CEOs and senior executives, endorsed the free-trade pact Monday and urged Congress to approve it.

“The U.S. technology sector has grown into a leading force in the U.S. economy, fueled by an unparalleled commitment to innovation and an unprecedented investment in research and development,” President and CEO Linda Moore said in a news release. “The statistics are staggering: the U.S. innovation economy now supports more than 30 percent of U.S. GDP and employs more than 6.5 million Americans. It’s being driven by the incredible new technologies developed in Silicon Valley, Seattle, Austin, Boston, and beyond, and it’s been accelerated by international trade.”

“Yet, our nation’s ability to continue to lead in this sector is dependent on access to the fastest growing markets in the world and the uninhibited flow of data across borders,” she continued. “This agreement supports U.S. technology leadership around the globe, and will drive economic growth and job creation here at home.”

President Obama is likely to call for the TPP’s passage during his State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday night. But Honda, D-San Jose, has not yet taken a position on the agreement negotiated between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim trading partners, Chief of Staff Jennifer Van der Heide said Monday.

He did vote last year against the Trade Promotion Authority that allowed the Obama administration to fast-track this trade pact, calling for Congress to have a bigger role in its drafting. And he has spoken about making sure agreements like this include strong, clear and enforceable labor, environmental and human rights standards.

Khanna said Monday he would vote against the Trans Pacific Partnership.

“First, the tribunals that have been set up to adjudicate give too much power to corporations and don’t take labor, environmental and human rights stakeholders into consideration,” he said via email. “Second, there is too much of an IP and data exclusivity giveaway to pharmaceuticals that would deprive many people around the world of access to drugs.”

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