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Archive for June, 2006

Sen. Feinstein seeks Iraq troop redeployment

This just in from the office of U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who will speak on the Senate floor at 10:30 a.m. today to call for beginning the phased redeployment of U.S. Forces in Iraq.

She will urge support for an amendment she introduced with U.S. senators Carl Levin, D-Mich., Jack Reed, D-RI, and Ken Salazar, D-Colo., which calls for the beginning of a phased redeployment of forces from Iraq by the end of the year.

Feinstein will also appear on CNN’s “Larry King Live” at 6 p.m. tonight with eight Democratic women senators. The lawmakers will discuss “Checklist for Change,” a list of nine issues the Senate can take specific action on right now to improve the lives of Americans.

Posted on Wednesday, June 21st, 2006
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Enviros score at the polls, cite DeSaulnier and Corbett wins

The California League of Conservation Voters reports today that it won 90 percent of the races where it endorsed candidates.

Enviros worried going into the June primary because many of the state lawmakers it counts among its solid votes were on the verge of terming out, particularly in the Senate where the potential loomed for a loss of seven reliable green votes. Instead, the league only lost three.

“Some erosion (in the Senate) did occur, but it was minimal,” wrote the CLCV. “We lost fewer good votes in the Senate than we could have.”

The league is especially happy with the results in Senate District 10, where Ellen Corbett beat John Dutra in a surprise win. The league has battled Dutra, a former assemblyman who helped lead the so-called “Mod Squad” that successfully killed some of its pet bills in past legislative sessions. (The Mod Squad is a coalition of moderate members of both parties.)

The league joined with other liberal groups and spent tens of thousands of dollars on independent expenditures in support of Corbett’s candidacy.

League leaders also say they will have a more reliable Assembly stable with the election of people such as Contra Costa County Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier in District 11 in Contra Costa County. He beat Pittsburg School Board Trustee Laura Canciamilla, wife of termed-out Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg.

Joe Canciamilla is also a leading member of the “Mod Squad” and has been the target of the league’s ire for several years. They sent out anti-Canciamilla mailers to his constituents in the past. During the primary, they spent money in support of DeSaulnier’s candidacy.

Posted on Tuesday, June 20th, 2006
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Call of the Day

Here’s a paraphrased message left on my machine this afternoon: “Would you please use your political influence internally to stop the paper from writing stories about humans hurting other humans?”

Gee, that pretty much puts an end to the political beat, doesn’t it?

Posted on Monday, June 19th, 2006
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Pombo competitiveness rating drops

The National Journal dropped the competitiveness rating nine places in its handicapping of the Congressional District 11 race between Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, and Democrat Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton. The ranking dropped from the 34th most competitive to 43. (The top ranked race is Congressional District 1 in Iowa.)

The shift reflects the general consensus among national political pundits watching congressional races that Pombo will have little trouble outpacing McNerney, who handily beat the more moderate Steve Filson in the primary.

Don’t expect McNerney to adopt that philosophy as his own. He says he will campaign hard to show Washington Democrats that he is a worthy candidate. By that, McNerney means he wants them to invest in his race.

Roll Call, the Washington, D.C.-based newspaper that covers The Hill, reported this week that McNerney is scheduling meetings with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman and Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill.

But Democratic strategists predict the national support won’t materialize. The party needs to take 15 seats in November to take control of the House of Representatives, and they say they will put their money only in the most competitive districts.

It appears McNerney will still have his environmental friends. The Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters and Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund all say they intend to keep the heat on Pombo during the general election. These organizations spent in excess of $300,000 in the primary, mostly on anti-Pombo radio ads and billboards.

In the meantime, Pombo will have no shortage of cash. As of May 17, he had $800,000 in the bank. Combined with his status as a seven-term incumbent and his 7-percentage-point party registration advantage, he will be a formidable challenger.

Speaking of campaign money, here’s a breakdown of what the candidates raised and spent as of May 17. (We’ll find out the candidates’ total expenditures and contributions related to the primary in the next report, which covers May 18-June 30. It’s due July 15, 2006.)

RICHARD POMBO: Raised $1.7 million; spent $1 million
PETE MCCLOSKEY: Raised $387,492; spent $252,803

JERRY MCNERNEY: Raised $231,158; spent $175,624
STEVE FILSON: Raised $384,146; spent $319,138

For a look at the Federal Election Commission filings yourself, click here.

Posted on Friday, June 16th, 2006
Under: congressional district 11 | No Comments »


Please accept my apologies for what must have appeared to be a serious neglect of such a fledgling blog. We experienced severe technical problems related to the server where the blog lives. God willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll be back in busines today.

You’ll also notice that all the comments folks posted have disappeared. We hope to restore them as soon as possible.

Posted on Thursday, June 15th, 2006
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The governor is coming to Antioch

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is coming to Antioch Thursday morning as part of his “Protecting the California Dream” tour, the name he has given his re-election campaign.

He’ll be at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Hall in Antioch at 10 a.m.

The guv is also expected to say some really nice things about Arne Simonsen, the Antioch city councilman running for Assembly District 11.

We can read the signs already, “Arnie’s for Arne!”

Not that such a link is a big political stretch. They are both fiscal conservatives and social liberals.

But Schwarzenegger is a serious contender and Simonsen, well, he’s got a lot of weight to lift if he expects to win. Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one in Assembly District 11.

He will face Contra Costa County Supervisor Mark DeSaulnier, who beat out three challengers Tuesday for the Democratic nomination.

Posted on Wednesday, June 7th, 2006
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Rep. George Miller revives Marianas bill

Rep. George Miller of Martinez, ranking Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee, has introduced legislation today that would impose U.S. labor and immigration laws on the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands.

Miller has spent years pushing unsuccessfully for the reform of working conditions on this group of islands in the Philippine Sea where news reports have uncovered sweat shops and worker exploitation.
But Miller said that former GOP leader Rep. Tom DeLay and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff fended off such reforms for years.

Now that DeLay is leaving Congress Friday and Abramoff is headed to prison later this month, Miller and other lawmakers hope to revive interest in the plight of Marianas workers.

The bill’s fate is highly uncertain.

The legislation falls under the jurisdiction of the House Resources Committee and its chairman, Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy.

Miller has asked Pombo repeatedly to investigate Marianas conditions.

But Pombo, who has visited the Marianas on congressional business, has said such hearings would accomplish little except to provide members a chance to posture. Instead, he has referred to the matter to the Department of Justice.

Posted on Wednesday, June 7th, 2006
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Rep. Ellen Tauscher fires fund-raiser

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, fired her Washington, D.C., fund-raising consulting firm this week after she learned the firm failed to report several contributions of $1,000 or more within the 48-hour notification period required prior to an election.

The disclosures should have been filed June 4 but were filed instead on June 5.

“I have consistently supported campaign finance reform and a more transparent process so voters are fully informed of who is contributing to a candidate,” she said in a prepared statement.

The firm is Fraioli & Associates.

Tauscher had no primary opponent in Tuesday’s election but she will have an opponent in the November general election: Republican Darcy Pearl Linn of Pleasant Hill.

Posted on Wednesday, June 7th, 2006
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East Bay races to watch tonight

East Bay races to watch

As we head into the final hours of the primary election, here’s a recap of hot East Bay races to watch tonight.

It’s not a question of whether Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, will win tonight but rather by how much. Roll Call in Washington, D.C., quoted pundits today that suggest if liberal GOP opponent Pete McCloskey takes a third of the vote, it could signal deep dissatisfaction with Pombo. McCloskey, with the help of a handful of liberal environmental groups, has been hammering Pombo over the lawmaker’s ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, campaign contributions from oil and mining interests and efforts to rewrite federal environmental laws.

The outcome here, along with the fate of fellow conservative Rep. John Doolittle in the Sierra foothills, will offer plenty of pundit fodder about the strength of a national Democratic wave as we move toward the November general election.

And what about the Democratic ticket?

No one, except their respective campaign managers, is predicting which of two front-runners will emerge victorious tonight. Democratic primaries tend to favor liberals, which gives a slight edge to the wind energy consultant Jerry McNerney. But airline pilot Steve Filson has more money, which is one of politics great equalizers.

Regardless of which Democrat seizes the primary prize, he can look forward to a nationalized campaign that both parties will be watching. And you can bet those national interests won’t be silent partners, either.

Assembly District 11 has been one of the nastiest races in recent East Bay history as two powerful Democratic factions fight for political dominance in a campaign marked with mailers, signs and television ads rife with distortions.

In one camp is Laura Canciamilla, wife of outgoing incumbent Joe Canciamilla and a moderate and relative political novice best known for her expertise as an educator and anti-sprawl activist.

On the other side of the aisle is Mark DeSaulnier, a veteran elected county leader with ample campaign funds, experience and the endorsement of just about every major politician and labor group in the area.

Independent expenditure money is also pouring into both sides as part of a statewide strategy by special interest groups that hope to orchestrate favorable legislative blocs.

Canciamilla, in particular, has benefited because the California Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee, JOBSPAC, has spent thousands in support of her candidacy at a time when she didn’t have much money. She has spent quite a bit of her own money, in fact.

The word on the political gossip train is that tracking polls show the pair are in a statistical dead heat. But neither side is making those results public, so take that with a sizable chunk of sodium.

Similar scenarios are playing out in Assembly District 18 in the Tri-Valley and Senate District 10, where moderate and liberal interest PACS have spent tens of thousands of dollars flooding voters’ mailboxes and airwaves with hit pieces.

One has to wonder: When does the volume of negative campaigning grow so loud that voters tune out?

Most asked about this race today predict Concord Mayor Susan Bonilla will easily take the number one spot but no one expects she will win the seat outright. That would take 50 percent plus 1 vote; it’s a difficult hurdle in a race with four candidates.

The bigger unknown is who will win that all-important second place slot and the chance to compete in the November run-off.

Will it be Mt. Diablo School Board Trustee Gary Eberhart or Contra Costa Taxpayers chief Kris Hunt?

My crystal ball, unfortunately, is still in the shop and won’t be repaired before today’s votes are counted.

Posted on Tuesday, June 6th, 2006
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Westly or Angelides?

A wise person said to me a few days ago: “The campaign ads for Westly and Angelides are working. Each has convinced me that the other is not worth voting for.”

Hmmmm. Perhaps this is why Secretary of State Bruce McPherson has projected a dismal 38 percent average voter turnout statewide on Tuesday.

Posted on Monday, June 5th, 2006
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