Kennedy, Kerry to stump here for Obama

It’s like Boston on the Pacific!!!

edward-kennedy.jpgU.S. Sen. Edward “Teddy” Kennedy, D-Mass., who endorsed Barack Obama on Monday, will host a town-hall meeting on the candidate’s behalf at 2 p.m. Friday, Feb. 1 in Beebe Memorial Cathedral, at 3900 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland; it’s free and open to the public.

And U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., will host a canvass kick-off rally at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the auditorium at Everett Middle School, 450 Church St. in San Francisco — also free and open to the public.

Wanna bet who’s a bigger draw? Opinions vary on the power of political endorsements, but the Kennedy family name could carry weight with several key California constituencies.

For one, younger voters: While making his endorsement Monday, Kennedy said Obama represents the same youthful vigor and generational change that his elder brother, John Kennedy, brought to 1960’s presidential campaign. Yet this endorsement from a Senator who has served since 1962 — only Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., has more seniority — also could help quell the concerns of those who believe Obama too inexperienced.

The Obama campaign almost certainly hopes Latinos will recall Robert Kennedy marching with labor and civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, and African Americans, Robert Kennedy’s commitment to civil rights. And Ted Kennedy’s blessing ought to help with organized labor, too.

Obama also has been endorsed by Caroline Kennedy, who is Ted Kennedy’s niece and the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy; the campaign on Wednesday launched a television ad featuring Caroline Kennedy, airing in the San Francisco and Los Angeles markets as well as on national cable.

The Senator’s son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-Rhode Island, has endorsed Obama too, but Robert Kennedy Jr. and his sisters, Kerry Kennedy and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, have endorsed Clinton, as has Anthony Kennedy Shriver — another of Ted Kennedy’s nephews, and the youngest brother of California’s first lady, Maria Shriver.

BTW, The Washington Post had an interesting item today about how Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama might’ve had something to do with his personal ire at Hillary Clinton.


Schwarzenegger endorses McCain

We’ve been expecting it but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has done it. He officially endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain in the presidential GOP primary.

The governor offered a hint yesterday when he said that two of his friends were seeking the presidency. But New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani dropped out after a dismal showing in Florida on Tuesday despite spending millions of dollars campaigning there.

Schwarzenegger’s endorsement is a big boost for McCain as he rolls into Tsunami Tuesday and primary elections in more than 20 states.

On the other hand, the governor’s nod won’t endear McCain to diehard California conservatives who view both men as too moderate on issues such as immigration and global climate change. The California Republican Party has also barred independents from voting in its primary, which could hurt McCain.

Here’s what Schwarzenegger said in a release sent out a few minutes ago:

“I am endorsing Senator McCain to be the next President of the United States because I am interested in a great future and I think Senator McCain has proven over and over again that he can reach across the aisle to get things done,” said Governor Schwarzenegger. “He has also crusaded to end wasteful spending in Washington, which is so important.”

And John McCain is a crusader with a great vision for protecting the environment, while simultaneously protecting the economy. He has incredible credentials on national security and, of course, he is a fantastic public servant. He is a great American hero and an extraordinary leader.”

John McCain thanked Governor Schwarzenegger for his support, stating, “I am honored to have the support of my friend Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. I am very proud that Governor Schwarzenegger has taken the lead in California to protect our environment, an important priority for our nation and the world. I thank him for his leadership. I thank him for being a great American success story. This is a story that is an inspiration not only to young citizens here in California, but all over America and the world. He came to this country without very much, except his strengths, his talents and his ambition.

“And he is now the governor of the largest state in America, and I am proud to be in his company. I know that he serves as a role model and a guide to millions of Americans and people throughout the world. And that is why I am doubly honored by his endorsement of my candidacy and thankful for his help on the road to the presidency of the United States.”


Klaske withdraws from Assembly race

San Ramon entrepreneur Fred Klaske has withdrawn from the crowded Assembly District 15 race, citing poor fund-raising.

Klaske had also run into trouble because he didn’t live in Assembly District 15 until last August, a gerrymandered sprawl of a district that stretches over four counties and through the San Ramon Valley.

His departure leaves four on the Democratic ticket, including San Ramon School Board Trustee Joan Buchanan, former airline pilot Steve Filson of Danville, electrician Steve Thomas of Danville, and school-teacher John Taylor of Sacramento. (UPDATE: Davies Ononiwu of Elk Grove withdrew in December.)

Here’s an excerpt of what Klaske said in his press release issued today:

I am formally withdrawing from the race for the 15th Assembly District of California today …

Head Shot of Fred Klaske I am pulling out of this race for one simple reason: I was not able to accomplish the fundraising results needed, in the timeframe needed, to remain competitive as this race moves into the critical round of endorsements by recognized, professional political organizations that the voters in a primary such as this will depend upon. With the help of close to 200 folks, we were able to raise over $20,000 in 11 months. As promised, I put $100,000 from my pocket into that pile of cash, and I had finally located a highly qualified, professional, and very willing fundraising resource with 20+ years of experience and tons of references.

Unfortunately, that outstanding fundraising resource was identified too late to make a difference in the 4th Quarter results that those political organizations will rely upon in determining the financial viability of my campaign — financial results that unfortunately matter more than message.

To put it another way, I simply ran out of time in this election cycle — and if anyone is at fault, or to blame, let it rest on my shoulders alone.

To me, and I suspect to some of you as well, message does matter — and the causes this campaign cares about, especially getting our civilization off of carbon-intensive fuels ASAP, really matter to us and the generations to follow, as I’ve seen and heard loud and clear during these last 11+ months.

I’m proud to have tossed my hat into elective politics — even if “I cared, I tried, and I failed” this time around — and I’m so very proud of the support that so many people showed for helping me move this message forward to the eyes and ears of hundreds of decision makers throughout the state of California, especially Sacramento.

Please know that I’m proud to announce that I’m voting for the next President of these United States in the upcoming primary on February 5th — Barack Obama — as the best possible choice to unify us and move us forward in a positive spirit of hope and change we really can believe in.

As for me, I intend to continue working hard every day to get us “beyond carbon” — and I’ll be working with numerous contacts in the private sector who are likewise passionately pursuing that objective — and I will let my supporters know from time to time new and promising things that are being developed to get us all there.

I’ll also be involved, to the extent that I can, in helping California lead the way to a carbon cap and trade system for emissions, so that we can place a truer cost on those CO2 greenhouse gases and make the economics that much more favorable for the transition toward non-carbon sources of energy.


Concord woman named GOP leader

Elizabeth Froelich of Concord has been elected president of the California Republican Women Federated’s Northern Division.

She represents the “voice and goals” of Republican women in the northern 37 counties, according to a press release.

During her term of office she has taken as her motto: Republican women, working for God, country and family.

Her duties encompass visiting all the Northern Division clubs providing leadership and encouragement for Republican women to join their voices with the elected officials in working for sound fiscal and social policies within the state.


How powerful is Arnold’s endorsement?

Oh, sure, he’s the governator, an international superstar, a guy who made a mockery of Democrats’ voter registration edge twice. The Associated Press story says Schwarzenegger’s endorsement of John McCain tomorrow in Los Angeles is “giving a certain boost to the Republican presidential front-runner six days before California’s high-prize primary” and is “yet another setback for Mitt Romney.”

But consider a few things:

    (1.)Survey USA says the governor’s approval rating is at 47 percent, after having lingered in the 50s for all but one month since his November 2006 re-election. (The Field Poll put that number considerably higher in December, at 60 percent, so maybe this isn’t much of a consideration; on the other hand, that was before we were staring at a $14.5 billion deficit and 10 percent across-the-board budget cuts.)
    (2.)The California Republican primary is closed, meaning only registered Republicans can vote — no independents. And although this is a presidential year and turnout is expected to be high, closed party primaries tend to represent that party’s true believers, the ideological core, and less so the moderates. Yet both Schwarzenegger and McCain have made careers out of trying to secure not only their own party’s voters, but unaffiliated ones as well. (Of course, a closed primary didn’t seem to stop McCain from clinching Florida.)
    (3.)Some elements of the Republican Party are not so happy with Schwarzenegger right now. He has endorsed Proposition 93, the term-limits reform measure on next week’s ballot which his party staunchly opposes. He favors abortion rights, and although he has twice vetoed gay marriage, he has signed a slew of bills granting rights to domestic partners. Some have never been happy with his choice of advisers, including a Democratic chief of staff. Remember, Arnold Schwarzenegger has never had to win a Republican primary — he was elected in the raucous recall of 2003, and had no primary challenger in 2006.

Do I believe Schwarznegger will bring some votes McCain’s way? Yes. I’m quite sure any candidate would prefer to have this endorsement rather than see an opponent get it.

I also believe McCain will win in California; the latest polls show he has a substantial lead over Romney and Mike Huckabee, and most of the people who were planning on voting for Rudy Giuliani are more likely to migrate to McCain than to either of the others. California’s GOP primary isn’t winner-take-all — rather than the statewide popular vote winner getting all of the state’s delegates, the candidates are competing in each and every Congressional district; the winner in each district gets three delegates — that’s 159 — and then the statewide winner gets 11 more. I’m sure Romney and maybe even Huckabee might walk off with a few, but I’m betting McCain will get the lion’s share.

All I’m sayin’ is, maybe Arnold isn’t the powerful people-mover he once was — maybe his endorsement is far from making a big difference.


California counties predict slow returns Tuesday

Top California election officials predict election returns will be delayed Tuesday in the wake of Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s decertification of election equipment in some counties.

Those delays could be even worse in June and November, they said, which have far more contests to count.

This is the classic tug-of-war that election officials face on Election Night: Fast results vs. trusted results.

Activists want paper-based ballots and oppose electronic voting machines on the grounds that clever hackers could hijack election outcomes. But many election officials have argued that Bowen went overboard and instituted reforms with little or no proof of voter fraud.

Bowen spokeswoman Kate Folmar said the secretary has every confidence that California county election officials will conduct a professional and accurate election. Changes in election equipment law impacted 21 of the state’s 58 counties.

(As a side note, I laughed at the quote from Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir about how numbers won’t be ready until early Wednesday morning. Does that mean I’ve been working for no reason in the past until the wee hours of the morning reporting on election results?)

Here’s what a press release sent a few minutes ago from the California State Association of Counties said:

SACRAMENTO – California’s county election officials are warning that the state’s election results will be delayed, despite bulking up on staff and volunteers needed to carry out the February 5th Primary Election – a result of actions taken by the Secretary of State last year.

“Counties are well prepared to conduct this election, and report results as soon as they become available,” said CSAC Executive Director Paul McIntosh. “However, because the Secretary of State decertified many counties’ electronic voting systems just six months ago, election officials have been scrambling to change election-day procedures for counting votes. Even with the sizeable number of additional volunteers who work tirelessly in precincts throughout the state, the process will take significantly longer this year.”

In addition, with close to 50 percent of the expected vote to be cast by mail, between 1 and 2 million ballots cast in this election will not be reported in election night totals. And, in any close race, it will take one to two weeks to have most of these ballots included in updated totals, according to elections officials.

“With the changes the Secretary of State has put into place, the fact is that it’s going to take us longer to get votes counted,” said Rich Gordon, CSAC President and a San Mateo County Supervisor. “We realize that California is a pivotal state in this election, and all eyes will be on our numbers, but, the fairness and accuracy of the election remains our primary concern. So, while our reporting may be delayed, we want to ensure that our results are correct.”

There are approximately 25,000 precincts throughout the state’s 58 counties, and about 16 million registered voters in the state. Counties need to recruit an estimated 100,000 poll workers across the state for this election, including more than 24,000 in Los Angeles County alone. The estimated statewide cost for counties to administer the February election is $110 million. Governor Schwarzenegger vowed to pay counties for these costs when he signed the law creating this extra election, although there is no mention of it in his January budget proposal.

“There are very few contests on the February ballot, which will help expedite the counting process,” said Steve Weir, Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder and president of the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials. “However, we are still looking at early Wednesday morning before we’ll have our numbers ready. This does not bode well for the upcoming elections in June and November, when the number of contests will be substantially higher.”For more information, please visit the Elections section of the CSAC Web site: www.csac.counties.org/default.asp?id=301.