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Mike Huckabee to speak at state GOP convention

By Josh Richman
Friday, July 31st, 2015 at 2:59 pm in 2016 presidential election, Republican Party, Republican politics

Republican presidential candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will speak at a lunch banquet during the California Republican Party’s Fall Convention on Sept. 18 in Anaheim.

HuckabeeThe announcement comes one week after the state GOP said Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, also a presidential candidate, will headline the convention’s big Saturday-night dinner on Sept. 19.

“As governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee prompted much needed reform and set the bar high for his fellow governors,” state GOP chairman Jim Brulte said in a news release. “A proven leader, I’m very excited he could join us to kick off convention with the first banquet.”

California Republican Party Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon said Huckabee “has become a strong, but reasonable voice for conservatives across the nation through his time as governor and as a bestselling author and talk show host. With his years of experience, Huckabee is sure to have a great message to share with our fellow Republicans.”

Huckabee, in the same release said he’s “excited to be kicking off the California Republican Party convention and helping build excitement and enthusiasm for the great things California Republicans are going to help us accomplish in 2016.”

Mike Huckabee was the 44th governor of Arkansas, serving from 1996 to 2007. He won the 2008 Iowa caucus, but eventually finished third for the GOP nomination behind John McCain and Mitt Romney; since then, he has made a name as an author, radio commentator and host, and at the helm of his own Fox News Channel show.

Huckabee now polls fifth and Walker polls second for the Republican nomination, according to an average of recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics.

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Who is funding Draft Biden 2016?

By Josh Richman
Friday, July 31st, 2015 at 12:09 pm in 2016 presidential election, Joe Biden

The steady stream of emails I get from the Draft Biden 2016 super PAC inspired me to take a gander at its most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission – and that turned out to be interesting indeed.

Curtis BlockThe effort to draft Vice President Joe Biden into the 2016 presidential election may have some grassroots support, but it’s not rolling in dough: the super PAC raised $78,841.22 and spent $69,369.26 in this year’s second quarter, leaving $16,002.95 cash on hand as of June 30.

Its receipts include almost $4,600 in “in-kind” donations of time, office supplies, event and travel expenses, and so on from PAC executive director William Pierce III of Chicago.

Only five Californians contributed to the PAC, but three were substantial enough to account for a significant percentage of the total:

  • Dr. Howard Mandel, OB/GYN, Los Angeles, April 16 – $5,000
  • Elise Kroeber, retiree, San Francisco, April 20 – $250
  • Clare Springs, attorney at Titchell, Maltzman, Mark & Ohleyer in San Francisco, May 5 – $1,000
  • Richard Alexander, attorney at Alexander, Hawes & Audet in San Jose, May 18 – $1,000
  • Robert Farnsworth, retiree, Sacramento, June 23 and 30 – $220
  • A few notes about these: Springs listed Titchell Maltzman was listed as Springs’ employer, but that firm was dissolved in 2008 and she founded her own firm that same year. Mandel served on Obama for America’s Health Policy Advisory Committee and was previously an advisor to then-Senator Biden on health care issues during his presidential campaign.

    But the report’s most interesting revelation is that more than half the PAC’s money essentially came from a single, mysterious source.

    Curtis Block, president of Madison & Monroe in Pompano Beach, Fla., gave $5,000 on May 18, and then Madison & Monroe gave $38,000 on June 12. We’ve been unable to determine who Block is – there don’t appear to be any prior legal, business or other records for him – or what Madison & Monroe does; their address is a post box at Parcels Plus, and the business was only just incorporated on June 2 to conduct “any and all lawful business.”

    I asked the Draft Biden 2016 staffers to shed some light on this – but they declined.

    “I reached out to Curtis on your behalf and he’s asked that we only give out the personal information he was required to provide for the FEC report,” spokeswoman Sarah Ford said in an email Friday morning.

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    Rick Perry v. Donald Trump in pull-up contest?

    By Josh Richman
    Friday, July 31st, 2015 at 6:50 am in 2016 presidential election

    Once again, politicians are challenging each other to feats of strength.

    Reality television star, billionaire businessman and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump this week told a reporter that GOP rival and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry doesn’t deserve a spot onstage at the Republican debate next week in Cleveland because he lacks “energy,” “brainpower,” and “toughness.” Perry, asked about this during his appearance Wednesday at the Yale Club in New York City, replied, “Let’s get a pull-up bar up there and see who can do the most-pull ups.”

    And on Thursday, asked by CNBC how many pull-ups he can do, Perry replied, “More than Donald Trump.”

    Sadly for Perry, it’s likely that more media outlets reported on this than on the subject of his speech to the Yale Club on Wednesday – Wall Street reform, including re-instituting laws that require banks to separate their commercial lending and investment banking practices.

    It’s eerily similar to the 2012 throwdown between California Gov. Jerry Brown and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

    Christie started that tiff while addressing California’s delegates to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., calling Brown “an old retread” who “won the New Jersey presidential primary over Jimmy Carter when I was 14 years old.” Brown, then 74, responded a few days later by challenging the rotund Christie, then 50, to a three-mile run, a push-up contest and a chin-up contest; he said he’d take any bet on such a matchup and was confident he’d win.

    Brown delivered the coup de grace a few weeks later in a meeting with the Bay Area News Group editorial board. Making a case for his Proposition 30 tax-hike measure, said he and the state’s other executive officers have pared their spending even to the extent that he takes the cramped middle seat when flying up and down California on Southwest Airlines.

    “I’m flying Southwest and I oftentimes take the middle seat,” Brown said, before smiling mischievously. “I don’t think Christie is taking the middle seat.”

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    Carly Fiorina talks tough in telephone town hall

    By Josh Richman
    Thursday, July 30th, 2015 at 2:02 pm in 2016 presidential election, Carly Fiorina

    Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina renewed her call Thursday for a citizen-led government that would grow the economy, cut spending, better support our Middle Eastern allies against ISIS and cut funding for Planned Parenthood.

    The former Hewlett-Packard CEO, formerly of Los Altos Hills and now of Virginia, held a 45-minute telephone town hall Thursday, taking 10 questions from supporters across the country.

    Fiorina 5-14-2015 AP photoFiorina – whom the Real Clear Politics average of recent polls shows is in a three-way tie for 12th place among the 16 major, declared GOP candidates – sounded undaunted by her lack of traction and likened herself to a beloved party icon.

    “At this point in previous presidential elections, the polls, the pundits and the money said that Jimmy Carter couldn’t win, Ronald Reagan couldn’t win, Bill Clinton couldn’t win and Barack Obama couldn’t win,” she said, adding “the media may want to control the process, the party may want to control the process, but you know in the end the voters control the process.”

    Reagan won the White House in 1980 “because the people decided he should win,” she said – though she didn’t mention that 1980 was Reagan’s third presidential run, and he had served two terms as governor of the nation’s most populous state.

    Fiorina said even Republicans who support other candidates are telling her “I would love to see you debate Hillary Clinton.”

    “They know what I would do, they know I would win that debate, they know I would bring up all the tough issues that are not being brought up,” she said. “We’re at a pivotal point. We need to challenge the status quo in Washington, D.C.”

    More on Fiorina’s policy answers, after the jump…
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    Black Caucus members seek Silicon Valley diversity

    By Josh Richman
    Thursday, July 30th, 2015 at 12:08 pm in Barbara Lee, U.S. House

    Rep. Barbara Lee will join Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries on a Silicon Valley junket aimed at increasing African Americans’ representation in the tech industry.

    lack of diversityLee, D-Oakland; Butterfield, D-N.C.; and Jeffries, D-N.Y., will spend this Sunday through Tuesday meeting with tech executives and local organizations as part of the caucus’ TECH 2020 initiative, a five-year diversity launched in May. The lawmakers will visit companies including Apple, Bloomberg, Google, Intel, Kapor Capital, Pandora, and SAP.

    “Our goal for this trip is to encourage and partner with these organizations to implement a diversity plan that will place more African Americans in the tech pipeline,” Butterfield said in a news release. “This will potentially lead to a wide range of opportunities, from student internships to positions on the boards of tech companies. Building a coalition of leaders from the public and private sectors ensures greater diversity and full representation of African Americans at every level of tech by 2020.”

    Lee said she’s pleased to welcome her peers to the Bay Area.

    “This visit is another step toward opening doors of opportunity for African Americans in the booming tech sector,” she said in the release. “Increasing diversity and inclusion within the tech sector is not only a moral imperative, it’s good for business and vital to continue economic growth. As we work to advance the TECH 2020 initiative and achieve full representation of African Americans in the tech sector, I look forward to continuing to work with these companies. We must all play a role in finding innovative solutions that bring diversity to Silicon Valley.”

    As part of its TECH 2020 plan, the caucus has outlined diversity principles, best practices, and resources for African American students and entrepreneurs, and has introduced legislation focused on increasing STEM education.

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    Speier offers bill to allow alcohol via U.S. Mail

    By Josh Richman
    Thursday, July 30th, 2015 at 11:31 am in Jackie Speier, U.S. House

    A Bay Area congresswoman wants to lift the ban on shipping alcohol through the U.S. Mail.

    Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, said she’s joined by 24 original cosponsors in introducing the bipartisan USPS Shipping Equity Act, which would change the Prohibition-era law preventing shipping of beer, wine, distilled spirits and other alcoholic drinks to consumers by mail.

    Jackie Speier“Prohibition is history, and this ban should be too,” Speier said in a news release “It’s ridiculous that we’re allowing UPS, FedEx, and other companies to ship spirits, wine, and beer to consumers, while banning the U.S. Postal Service from doing the exact same thing. As more states allow direct to consumer delivery, we need to lift this dated ban on so-called ‘spirituous, vinous, malted, fermented, or other intoxicating liquors,’ to give consumers more shipping choices when they check out.”

    Speier said the ban puts the Postal Service at a competitive disadvantage and limits shipping options for manufacturers and customers. Her H.R. 3412 would let the Postal Service ship alcoholic beverages directly from licensed producers and retailers to consumers over the age of 21. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that it would provide the Postal Service with an additional $50 million per year.

    This bill is endorsed by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, WineAmerica, the American Postal Workers Union, the National Rural Letter Carriers’ Association, the National Association of Postmasters of the United States, the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, and the National Association of Letter Carriers.

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    Newsom teams with tech to seek water solutions

    By Josh Richman
    Thursday, July 30th, 2015 at 11:14 am in Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor, Technology in politics, water

    Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom is teaming up with Silicon Valley’s Singularity University to challenge entrepreneurs around the world to come up with solutions to California’s water-supply woes, he announced Thursday.

    Three winning teams will be selected as Entrepreneurs in Residence at SU Startup Labs so they can interact with Singularity University’s startup community, corporate partners and other humanitarian partnerships to develop solutions for global impact and sustainability. Three runners-up will have a chance to pitch their solutions at SU Startup Lab, giving them access to a valuable network of technological expertise and potential funders.

    This challenge is open to teams from around the world and will be judged on the use of exponential technology, technical feasibility and rigor, innovation, market viability, salability, and design and utility functionality. Preference will be given to applicants that demonstrate their proof of concept in the form of a working prototype to validate their solutions. Proposals must be submitted by Sept. 15, and the winning teams will be announced by Sept. 30.

    Gavin Newsom“California produces almost half of all the fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the United States therefore the impact of our solutions are both local, national, and global,” Newsom said in a news release. “In the spirit of the Orteig Prize of 1919, my goal in working with Singularity University is to activate the incredible talent and ingenuity of Californians and the SU global community to solve twenty-first century challenges with twenty-first century solutions.”

    Newsom both is author of the 2013 book “Citizenville,” which calls on government to collaborate with private citizens in order to reap the most innovate solutions, and a candidate for governor in 2018.

    Singularity University – funded by corporations including Google and located in the NASA Research Park at Moffett Field near Mountain View – provides educational programs, innovative partnerships and a startup accelerator to help individuals, businesses, institutions, investors, NGOs and governments understand cutting-edge technologies, and how to utilize these technologies to help people.

    Rob Nail, Singularity University’s CEO and associate founder, said he can “think of no greater effort” than putting international expertise to work for solving California’s water issues. We are particularly pleased to be working with Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and his team, who can provide the pipeline of leadership to insure that the winning solutions have a direct line to decision-makers and the infrastructure of California to get them quickly into practice.”

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    Spinning the public pension reform initiative

    By Josh Richman
    Wednesday, July 29th, 2015 at 2:10 pm in ballot measures, pension reform

    California’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office this week released its review of the public pension reform initiative proposed by former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed and former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio – and what that review says seems to depend on your point of view.

    The 11-page document ends with a summary of fiscal effects predicting “significant effects—savings and costs—on state and local governments relating to compensation for governmental employees. The magnitude and timing of these effects would depend heavily on future decisions made by voters, governmental employers, and the courts.”

    Opponents were hot out of the gate Tuesday morning with a statement noting the LAO found there’s “significant uncertainty as to the magnitude, timing, and direction of the fiscal effects of this measure and its effects on current and future governmental employees’ compensation.”

    “This measure is a Trojan horse that will undermine the retirement security of millions of California families with unknown costs to taxpayers under the guise of giving them more power,” Dave Low, Chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, said in Tuesday’s statement. “Voters have consistently said they will reject proposals that threaten the death and disability benefits of public safety workers, undermine collective bargaining, and eliminate retirement security for teachers, bus drivers, and other public servants. This measure would be dead on arrival to voters, just like previously over-reaching measures.”

    But DeMaio and Reed issued a statement Wednesday morning saying the LAO had confirmed “that the mandatory requirements of the measure would produce ‘significant savings.’ Even better, in addition to what is specifically mandated by the measure, the LAO confirmed that voters would have new powers to add to the savings.”

    “Government union bosses are desperate to protect their gravy train at taxpayers’ expense. That’s why they are spinning a web of lies about the measure,” they said. “Astonishingly, the government union bosses even going so far as to claim voters will opt to spend MORE money than the politicians if given the new powers our initiative grants the people. At the core of their argument, the unions, along with the politicians, are arguing that voters might make bad decisions with the new powers our initiative grants them. Telling voters they cannot be trusted to make good decisions is not exactly a winning message.”

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    Tauscher names GOP co-chair for redistricting push

    By Josh Richman
    Tuesday, July 28th, 2015 at 10:43 am in Ellen Tauscher, redistricting

    Former East Bay Rep. Ellen Tauscher announced Tuesday that she’s bringing on a former colleague from the other side of the aisle to co-chair her effort to export California’s citizen-redistricting model to the rest of the nation.

    Ellen TauscherTauscher, a Democrat formerly of Alamo who represented part of the East Bay from 1997 to 2009, said former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., will co-chair YouDrawTheLines2021, an organization she formed to take reapportionment power away from state legislatures and give it to independent commissions. She launched the effort in the wake of last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of Arizona’s independent redistricting commission – and by extension, California’s as well.

    In a statement issued Tuesday, Tauscher said she’s thrilled to share the group’s leadership with Davis. “Independent non-partisan redistricting commissions, like the one we have in California, create the opportunity for more competitive districts and for more moderates of both parties to get elected to Congress,” she said.

    Davis said the effort is “critical to getting Congress working again.”

    “Creating independent non-partisan citizen advisory commissions in even five or six states before the 2020 census could make all the difference to the make-up of Congress in the next decade,” Davis said. “Ellen and I will be reaching out to our former colleagues and like-minded state elected officials of both parties in these key states to put the wheels in motion to get this done over the next five years.”

    The project will focus on passing ballot initiatives in key states over the next three election cycles to approve the formation of independent, non-partisan citizen redistricting commissions based on California’s model that was passed in 2008.

    Tauscher left her House seat in 2009 to become Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs – serving under then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – until February 2012, and then served as Special Envoy for Strategic Stability and Missile Defense until August 2012. She now splits her time between San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

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    Fiorina blasts Obama, Clinton on national security

    By Josh Richman
    Monday, July 27th, 2015 at 4:02 pm in 2016 presidential election, Carly Fiorina

    Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina will blast President Obama’s and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton’s national security policies, and cast China as “our rising adversary,” in a speech she’s scheduled to give Monday evening at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.

    Fiorina 5-14-2015 AP photo“President Obama has richly rewarded the bad behavior of Cuba, Russia, Syria, Iran and China — and Mrs. Clinton has signaled her approval,” the former Hewlett-Packard CEO will say, according to the speech’s prepared text. “It is really quite simple. When you reward bad behavior, you get more of it.”

    Fiorina will promise that on her first day in the Oval Office, she would call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to reaffirm the United States’ support of Israel. She also would call Iran’s Supreme Leader to tell him that the P5+1 deal is off, and “unless and until Iran opens itself to full and unfettered inspections of all nuclear and military facilities, we are going to make it very hard for Iran to move money around the global financial system.”

    “I will not call Vladimir Putin,” she’ll say. “We have talked way too much to him. But he too will get the message.”

    Meanwhile, she’ll say, “China is building their economic power and will wield it ruthlessly.”

    Her plan calls for America moving firmly against China’s internet censorship, economic domination, cyberterrorism, and aggressive push into the South China Sea – the latter by working with Vietnam and the Philippines to increase surveillance, and by joint military exercises with the Philippines. And America also must push harder for human rights, women’s rights and democracy there and elsewhere around the globe, she’ll say.

    “China, Russia, Iran, and terrorist groups such as ISIS — these are the big human rights tests of our time,” the prepared speech says. “Women and girls are systematically targeted, subjugated, murdered, raped and sold into bondage. It is the height of hypocrisy for Hillary Clinton to run for President as a champion of women’s rights when her record as Secretary of State is this dismal.

    “Our ideals are a light that shines in the very darkest corners of the world. Today, without American leadership, we have too many dark corners.”

    Fiorina’s campaign said she’ll deliver the speech to a sold-out crowd of more than 1,000.

    With little time remaining before Fox News selects the top 10 candidates to participate in the first debate (scheduled for Aug. 6 in Cleveland), it’s looking like Fiorina will be among those shut out. Of 16 Republicans already in the race, Fiorina is tied for 13th place with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal – each with 1.3 percent support – according to an average of six recent national polls tabulated by Real Clear Politics; only U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and former New York Gov. George Pataki fare worse.

    Fiorina’s speech will be livestreamed at 6 p.m. But you can read the entire text of the speech as prepared, after the jump…

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