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California’s voting has begun

Well, I’m back after a week of vacation, and what did I miss? Oh, not much: The state Senate’s President Pro Tem got carjacked; a powerful Bay Area Congressman and committee chairman announced his illness and impending retirement; Obama won Iowa; etc. A slow week by all accounts.

OK, maybe the vacation was a bit ill-timed. But we’ll put that all behind us, as today marks the start of absentee voting in California!

The Golden State’s presidential frontrunners — Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani — are excited, perhaps particularly given their less-then-stellar performances in Iowa (Hillary in third place among Democrats, Giuliani a distant sixth among Republicans). After all, California absentee ballot voters comprise more than 40 percent of the overall primary vote, and the state has a tremendous percentage of the delegates needed to win the nominations.

Clinton supporters including Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (a national campaign co-chair), other state lawmakers and California campaign senior staffers will gather in Sacramento in about 15 minutes to discuss “a plan that will ensure a victory for Senator Clinton on February 5, 2008.” Over the weekend, they sent out a memo claiming “our ground game, grassroots organization, and volunteer network throughout the 58 counties are unmatched and will allow us to remain strong.”

Meanwhile, this from Bill Simon, Rudy Giuliani’s California Chairman:

For the first time in years, California Republicans will play a pivotal role in determining who the Presidential nominee will be for their party. The voters in California begin to be heard today, as absentee voting starts in the state. As Republicans cast their ballots, I urge voters to choose the only true fiscal conservative in the race and the man whose tested leadership brought the country together in a time of crisis — Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Remember, vote-by-mail ballots must be received by an elections official no later than the close of polls — that’s 8 p.m. on primary election day, Feb. 5. You can mail it in or return it in person to any polling place in your county or to the county elections office on Election Day; if illness or physical disability prevents you from returning the ballot yourself, you can designate a spouse, child, parent, grandparent, sibling, or a person residing in the same household to return the ballot to the elections official or the precinct board at any polling place within the jurisdiction.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.