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Archive for January, 2008

Obama wins Lamorinda straw poll

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama won the Lamorinda Democratic Club straw poll with 79 votes compared to 50 for opponent John Edwards and 36 for Hillary Clinton.

It wasn’t an entirely surprising outcome. The Lamorinda Democratic Club’s members are liberal and many said they would have gone with Edwards if they thought he stood a chance of winning.

The club used an interesting format prior to the straw poll on Friday night. They invited a representative of each campaign to speak as a proxy or surrogate for the candidate. It wasn’t as easy at sounds. It’s one thing to stand up at a press conference and endorse a candidate. But this was an hour-long forum with point audience questions, and surrogates aren’t as intimately familiar as the candidates with the policies.

The idea behind asking the surrogates to speak is that voters respond more favorably to people they know rather than campaign literature or telephone calls. On the other hand, it’s unclear how many folks in the packed room at the Orinda Community Church in Orinda were undecided before they showed up Friday night.

Speaking for Obama was Contra Costa Supervisor Susan Bonilla, who expressed a bit of nerves prior to the event but put on a passionate and well-spoken presentation.

Marie McDonald, a one-time Republican who has helped lead the county party’s fund-raising arm, promoted Edwards while Mary Filson advocated for Clinton. (Mary is married to Steve Filson, a Democratic primary candidate for Assembly District 15 and a former candidate for Congress in the seat now held by Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton.)

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential primary | No Comments »

State of the Union reactions

lee3.jpgRep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland — who just two weeks ago told community leaders she doesn’t believe “earmark” should be a dirty word and so she’s doing all she can to get her district its fair share of federal dollars — said she was stunned by the President’s call to slash such spending.

“Look at the president’s earmarks he puts forth every year – I’m totally flabbergasted at what he’s talking about,” she said a few minutes ago, noting that Bush himself requested more than $20 billion in earmarks in 2006, and that Democrats already have enacted transparency rules and other reforms that were absent during Republican control of Congress. “Many communities in the country, such as my community, deserve some of their federal dollars back… people pay taxes in these congressional districts and they deserve some of their federal dollars back in the form of earmarks.”

Long a leader in the global battle against HIV/AIDS, Lee said the President’s call for increased spending still falls short. “Given the magnitude of the pandemic, we’re suggesting $50 billion in our reauthorization bill; $30 billion is not enough,” she said, adding she was disappointed Bush failed to address the disease’s impact on America, particularly in communities of color.

She said she fears his demand to keep the economic-stimulus package clear of any add-ons. “You know what that means: don’t add food stamps or extension of unemployment benefits,” she predicted, even as five million more people have fallen below the poverty line during Bush’s tenure. “I would think he’d want to do as much as he could to help poor people in this economic stimulus plan.”

A member of the House Appropriations Committee, Lee said she also fears the 150 “bloated” programs he said he’ll try to slash probably include just the sorts of programs for which she and others have fought hard – things such as violence prevention, outreach to at-risk youth and other support structures for low- and middle-income communities. “We’ll be ready for the fight,” she vowed.

And she said she’s “not surprised but disappointed” at his stay-the-course tone for the war in Iraq. “I think we have to mount more aggressive efforts here in the House to end it … to put up no more money except for a fully funded withdrawal of the troops.”

All in all, she said, “I’m very pleased that this was the last State of the Union speech that we’ll have to listen to and respond to by George W. Bush.”

pete-stark.jpgRep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, viewed the speech on television at home, although his grandson – Timothy Wainwright, 16 – was on the House floor as a newly-sworn Congressional page. Stark said he wishes his grandson had been witness to a more inspiring moment.

“I think you just watched what history will determine was the worst president in the history of the United States reviewing all the bad things he has done,” he said. “I think you got more excitement out of the presidential debates on both sides of the aisle over the last few months than you did tonight… It was not a speech with a great deal of charge and change for the American public, it just kind of summarized a lackluster administration.”

Stark, who chairs the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, said he was dismayed by President Bush’s continued call for privatizing Medicare and Social Security, as well as for maintaining the war in Iraq. “I didn’t hear a lot tonight, I literally didn’t hear a new idea or something he didn’t raise the last time.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-San Mateo, who in past years has been quick to provide an elegant verbal riposte following President Bush’s State of the Union addresses, wasn’t available for comment Monday night. Let’s hope that this has little to do with his recent announcement that he’s starting treatment for esophageal cancer, and rather that he simply wanted the night off.

Statements issued by Ellen Tauscher, Jerry McNerney and others, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barbara Lee, Ellen Tauscher, General, Iraq, Jerry McNerney, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, President Bush, Tom Lantos, U.S. House | No Comments »

Clinton to open office in Alamo

The campaign of Democratic presidential candidate and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton will open a call-hub office in Alamo this evening.

Here’s what her campaign office sent out a few minutes ago:

The California Clinton Campaign will open its Northern California campaign field office today, Monday, January 28 from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. 

The grand opening will include a meet and greet for local supporters and a Bring Your Own Phone party (BYOP).  Clinton Campaign volunteers and guests will make phone calls to local voters in Contra Costa in support of Hillary Clinton.

Contra Costa Call Hub
3240 Stone Valley Road West
Alamo, CA 94507 




Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential primary | 4 Comments »

Cindy Sheehan speaks in Berkeley tomorrow

From Kristin Bender, our eye on Berkeley:

cindy_sheehan.jpgAntiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, now running against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, will return to her old stomping grounds Tuesday.

The former Berkeley resident will speak from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesday in the auditorium at Berkeley City College (formerly Vista Community College) at 2050 Center St., between Shattuck Avenue and Milvia Street, about half a block from the Downtown Berkeley BART station.

Not surprisingly, Sheehan’s talk will focus on how to end the war in Iraq. That’s been her mission since her son, Casey, was killed in April 2004 in Baghdad; her August 2005 vigil outside President George Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch made international headlines. Last July, in the wake of President Bush’s reduction of Scooter Libby’s sentence, Sheehan vowed to challenge Pelosi if the congresswoman failed to introduce articles of impeachment against Bush.

Sheehan will take questions from the audience after her speech Tuesday; the event is free and open to the public but first-priority seating is for Berkeley City College students, as this is being sponsored by the college’s Global Studies Program and the Global Studies Club.

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2008
Under: Berkeley, Cindy Sheehan, Iraq, President Bush | No Comments »

Schwarzenegger touts budget plan in SF

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in San Francisco this morning to discuss his 2008 budget proposal — $14.5 billion deficit by end of 2008-09, so no tax hikes but 10 percent across-the-board cuts — with the Bay Area Council Economic Institute, a public-private partnership of business, labor, government and higher education.


Listen to the full audio (about 36 minutes, not for the faint of heart) here:

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, General | No Comments »

Truth squad, meet the rapid responders!

And now, one day after Barack Obama‘s campaign rolled out its California “truth squad,” Hillary Clinton‘s campaign has unveiled its “rapid responders” in the Feb. 5 primary states, “a national group of truth tellers who will respond to inaccurate or misleading attacks directed at Senator and President Clinton,” the news release says.

In California, it’s state Controller John Chiang; state NAACP president Alice Huffman; San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom; Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles; and former U.S. Rep. Lynn Schenk, D-San Diego.

Cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of truthiness! Perhaps we can have a Celebrity Deathmatch-type showdown — maybe Gavin can represent Clinton against Kamala Harris for Obama, or maybe a battle of the Lynns: Woolsey v. Schenk.

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Elections, Fabian Nunez, Gavin Newsom, Hillary Clinton, John Chiang, Lynn Woolsey | No Comments »

Houston endorses Romney for president

Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, has endorsed GOP presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for president.

Here’s what Romney’s press release of a few minutes ago said:

Today, Governor Mitt Romney announced that four additional California State Legislators have joined the Romney for President team. Three of these new supporters, Assemblymen John Benoit, Bill Emmerson and Kevin Jeffries, were previously announced supporters of Fred Thompson’s campaign.

Assemblyman Guy Houston joins these legislators along with California Assembly
Republican Caucus Chair Bob Huff who announced his support for Governor Romney last week.

“It is an honor to have these Republican legislators join our California team,” said Romney for President California State Co-Chairman Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman. “We know there are challenges ahead for our country, and we agree the candidate with the experience and determination to provide solutions and turnaround Washington is Governor Romney. Californians can be proud to join us in voting for the candidate who will lead our nation to a better future.”

In announcing their support, Governor Romney said, “I look forward to working with these California leaders to strengthen our economy and increase opportunities for hard-working families across the country. Together, we will bring real conservative change to Washington and fight to keep taxes low, cut wasteful government spending, secure the border and strengthen our military.”

These legislators join California Romney for President Co-Chair Tony Strickland and U.S. Congressmen Buck McKeon, John Campbell, Dana Rohrabacher and Wally Herger in supporting Governor Romney’s campaign.

New California State Legislators Supporting Governor Romney:

  • Assemblyman John Benoit, 64th Assembly District
  • Assemblyman Bill Emmerson, 63rd Assembly District
  • Assemblyman Guy Houston, 15th Assembly District
  • Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, 66th Assembly District

Previously Announced California State Legislators Supporting Governor Romney:

  • Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman, 33rd Senate District
  • Assembly Republican Caucus Chair Bob Huff, 60th Assembly District
  • Assemblyman Anthony Adams, 59th Assembly District
  • State Senator Bob Dutton, 31st Senate District
  • Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa, 2nd Assembly District
  • State Senator Bob Margett, 29th Senate District
  • Assemblyman Jim Silva, 67th Assembly District
  • Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, 37th Assembly District
  • State Senator Mark Wyland, 38th Senate District

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential primary | No Comments »

One stamp will do it

I’ve gotten a few calls about the postage required on the mail-in ballots in the Feb. 5 election, and I’m happy to tell you that you will only need ONE stamp.

In past elections, it took two stamps because the ballot was so large that the election office had to use two cards, and the contents exceeded 1 ounce.

Not to worry this time. One stamp is plenty, says Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters Steve Weir.

Posted on Monday, January 28th, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential primary | No Comments »

Lee, Miller, Lofgren on Obama ‘truth squad’

Hot on the heels of Barack Obama‘s rout of Hillary Clinton in Saturday’s South Carolina primary, the Obama campaign announced today it’s forming a “truth squad” of California supporters who’ll refute what they say are mistruths spread by Clinton’s campaign.

miller.jpg“Yesterday we watched as the voters of South Carolina sent a clear message to America and voted for change,” House Education & Labor Committee Chairman George Miller, D-Martinez, said today. “They rejected the divisive politics of the past and chose progress for the future. According to exit polls, 70% of South Carolina voters said the attacks leveled by the Clinton campaign were unfair. And despite weeks of misleading negative attacks, Barack Obama won because voters in South Carolina, like voters across America, wanted to bring this country together, and change the way business is done in Washington so we can finally stand up to the special interests and solve the problems that matter to ordinary Americans.”

lee3.jpgRep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, who spent time phone-banking for Obama on Saturday at the Oakland campaign headquarters, said, “We’re here today because we know Californians are tired of the same divisive politics that failed in South Carolina. We are organized to make sure that the truth is shared with Californians and to respond to same type of negative attacks that the Clinton campaign tried, and the voters rejected, in South Carolina.”

Take that, Bill and Hillary! (Um, and Ellen Tauscher and Lynn Woolsey, too!)

Besides Miller and Lee, other California Truth Squad members include Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood; Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank; Assembly Majority Floor Leader Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles; state Senate Majority Leader Gloria Romero, D-East Los Angeles; San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris; and LA Federation of Labor Executive Secretary/Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo.

Posted on Sunday, January 27th, 2008
Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, Bill Clinton, Elections, Ellen Tauscher, George Miller, Hillary Clinton, Lynn Woolsey, Zoe Lofgren | No Comments »

Woodward and Bernstein coming to Walnut Creek

A highly placed source has confirmed that Pulitzer-prize winning journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein will appear Nov. 17 in Walnut Creek as part of the 2008-2009 Lesher Speaker Series: Newsmakers.

Woodward and Bernstein, best known for their work at the Washington Post covering the Watergate scandal and President Richard Nixon, have also written multiple books. And Bernstein is currently one of CNN’s presidential primary political consultants.

The men will appear together on stage and answer questions from the audience during the event, which will be held at the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.

I’ll be the moderator. (It’s one of my favorite perks of this job.)

The Lesher Foundation and the Contra Costa Times, partners in the Newsmaker series, also plan to bring high school journalists to meet the famous pair.

The Lesher Foundation will unveil this spring its full list of speakers in the “Newsmakers” series and tickets will go on sale. Check out in May or June for details.

As for that highly placed source, that’s for me to know and you to find out.

Oh, all right, it was Steve Lesher.

He helps run the Lesher Foundation and is the grandson of the late Dean Lesher.

NOTE: Photos of Woodward and Bernstein were taken from their website. Click here to link to Woodward’s home page and click here for Bernstein’s home page.

Photo of Steve Lesher taken from the USC newspaper web site at

Posted on Friday, January 25th, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential election, Political events | No Comments »