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CD10: Vets for Woods, GOP infighting

By Josh Richman
Monday, July 13th, 2009 at 5:03 pm in 2009 CD10 special election.

Lisa is off enjoying a well-deserved vacation week, so I’ll be serving up your CD-10 news. Here are today’s tasty nuggets:

The VoteVets.org PAC, which describes itself as “the largest progressive group of veterans in America,” threw its endorsement and a promise of campaign money today to Democrat Anthony Woods, himself an Iraq veteran discharged from the Army after challenging the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. “Anthony is fresh, eager, and has an incredible track record of service,” VoteVets.org chairman Jon Soltz said in the news release. “His military record is incredibly impressive. And, he’ll bring vigorous leadership to Congress that will benefit his district. We urge voters in his district to send him to Congress.”

Democrat Mark DeSaulnier opened his campaign headquarters yesterday in Walnut Creek, and then had dozens of volunteers precinct-walking and phone-banking afterward. Amond those present at the grand opening: Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, Concord Mayor Laura Hoffmeister, Walnut Creek City Councilmember Kish Rajan and Contra Costa County Democratic Chair Chuck Carpenter.

Former Lafayette Mayor Scott Talan, a former television journalist who now is the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration’s communications director, says he’s getting “close to the final decision” on whether to move back from Washington, D.C. and run as a nonpartisan candidate.

And last but messiest, lest anyone think love and harmony really are breaking out at the Contra Costa Republican Party, the Halfway to Concord blog has e-mail correspondence from county committeeman Ted Hudacko of Richmond complaining that county GOP general counsel Steve Sonaty violated the state’s Election Code and the state GOP’s bylaws by urging the county GOP to rally behind one particular Republican in this special election, David Harmer. I’ve put out e-mails seeking comment from all the GOP candidates who’ve filed or declared candidacy: Harmer; David Peterson, John Toth, Chris Bunch and Gary Clift. Clift said he doesn’t know all the facts, but “it would be unfortunate if the Republican Central Committee was intentionaly breaking the law. This would only serve to further alienate our constituents and disenfranchise more voters from this important election.” For my own part, this smells like a county GOP internecine feud that has far less to do with Harmer himself — as Halfway to Concord’s headline implies — than with an effort to badmouth Harmer endorser and (Del Beccaro says he hasn’t endorsed Harmer; that’s my mistake, and I apologize) county and state GOP bigwig Tom Del Beccaro and those aligned with him. In fact, I’m in possession of another part of that same e-mail string in which Sonaty says his comments weren’t made in his capacity as legal counsel, but rather “as an elected member of the central committee in response to an e-mail sent to all members. I have one vote, and a right to state my personal opinion on issues presented to the committee, just as we all do.”

UPDATE @ 9:50 A.M. TUESDAY: Fairfield construction business owner Chris Bunch said the Alameda, Solano and Sacramento county GOP committees gave his CD10 candidacy a warm welcome, but things got icy at the Contra Costa County line. “My experience has been that the Contra Costa GOP has literally blocked my ability to come present myself as a candidate and by doing so has disabled me from getting Contra Costa support,” he told me this morning.

Bunch said he tried to make inroads as early as April, speaking with Contra Costa GOP executive director Michael Caporusso – who now works on Harmer’s campaign. The response, Bunch said, essentially was “don’t call us, we’ll call you” – and they didn’t.

“It’s disturbing, it is a violation of the Republican party bylaws, it is a violation of California election law,” Bunch alleged, but the state generally doesn’t enforce such things so it’s up to private citizens to file civil lawsuits – something he’d rather not get bogged down in while trying to run a campaign.

“It’s very unfortunate. There is obviously an implication of some if not illegal then unethical actions, and I don’t believe that’s what Republican voters are looking for,” he said, adding voters want “something to give them faith again that the Republican Party is going to stand up for the principles it originally professed … This kind of thing only serves to disincentive them.”

“Whoever wins this primary, I’ll be out there trying to help him win the district, and hopefully when I win they’ll be doing the same thing,” Bunch said.

UPDATE @ 12:06 P.M. TUESDAY: All of the CD10 Republican candidates are invited to the Contra Costa GOP’s forum at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 30 at 1706 Countrywood Court in Walnut Creek; guests inclined to attend should RSVP by July 24th 925-930-9551 or gpoulos@sbcglobal.net. Each candidate will be allowed a five-minute statement, and then there’ll be a 15-minute open Q-and-A period.

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  • Don Donaghy

    Even as an elected member to argue against an open forum and instead argue for full exclusive support for David Harmer is NOT the job of any central committee member and is made worse by that person being titular “legal counsel” combined with other whisper campaigns from the inner sanctum

    What did you think the unity letter from Del Beccaro Leach and Puepho was about?

    Snarky derision posing as journalism misses the broader context that when people talk about rebuilding the GOP it’s battles like this that are just those events that add up and produce reform

    Too bad you’re missing the storyline, Josh.

  • Arne Simonsen

    This is one 24-year Navy Veteran who will not be supporting or voting for Democrat Anthony Woods. While his military service is appreciated, his short military career was far from “an incredible track record of service”.

    His discharge under “Don’t ask, don’t tell” demonstrated how he deceived the military to get an education at West Point.

    As for Republican Chris Bunch, he should have spoken with the CCRP Chair, not the Executive Director. The Chair sets the agenda. The CCRP has always welcomed all Republican candidates to their candidate forums.

  • Ted

    Josh,

    Thank you for the coverage. I am sorry to disappoint you but I guess you are learning like I have since being elected to CCRP that democracy can be messy. So please don’t get bent out of shape when it is.

    Please note that it was only after I objected and pointed out the law did Counsel Sonaty retroactively disown his remarks. Sonaty was/is unapologetic and has provided no refutation of either the CAGOP bylaws nor California Election Code section 7354 that I cited in my original objection. Mr. Sonaty was in fact telling the membership to break the law by exclusively supporting Mr. Harmer. As Legal Counsel for CCRP, Mr. Sonaty should ground his opinions in certifiable facts and cite proper legal authorities—especially in a matter of such sensitive public trust as an Election or Primary Election.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Sonaty’s words simply reflect a larger pattern of sole support for the candidacy of Mr. Harmer, obstruction of the other GOP candidates, and other conflicts of interest by certain officers of CCRP. Our Public Relations Chairman, Tom Del Beccaro, who also happens to be Vice Chairman of the California Republican Party, has spoken publicly in exclusive support of Mr. Harmer and through lies of omission, fostered the perception that there are no other Republican candidates for the voters to consider. This includes Mr. Del Beccaro’s appearance on KSFO AM-560 the morning of July 10, 2009. Mr. Del Beccaro was introduced on air as the Vice Chair of the California Republican Party. Mr. Del Beccaro neither denied or objected to that introduction nor made any disclaimer that he was addressing the listenership as a private individual; therefore we know Del Beccaro spoke in an official capacity.

    Michael Caporusso has been serving simultaneously as both CCRP’s Executive Director and Mr. Harmer’s Campaign Manager. In May, the CCRP membership was informed of a $50k allocation from Mr. Harmer (or his campaign) to CCRP, ostensibly for voter registration. Given that CCRP has outstanding debts left over from 2008, that CCRP’s largest ongoing expense is Mr. Caporusso’s salary, and the fact that all funds are fungible, there are questions how this money is actually being spent and what consideration Mr. Harmer received. Volunteers in the CCRP dial for dollars operation managed by Mr. Caporusso have been reading a script that talks of only ‘one candidate’ and identifies Mr. Harmer.

    There is an additional concern for voters of CD-10 insofar that it is reported that much of Mr. Harmer’s campaign funding has originated outside California.

    I would respectfully request that the Contra Costa Times, join Halfway To Concord, which broke this story, to investigate these matters of utmost importance fully and in a timely fashion.

    Sincerely,

    Ted Hudacko
    Member, Contra Costa Republican Party
    1st Supervisorial District

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  • Sean Ackley

    Arne, Greg and Michael have been clear in the past that the executive director should always be approached for these matters because Greg has a full-time job and the ED is supposed to coordinate these matters for the committee. In this case since April, the ED’s focus has been on the Harmer campaign, and not the functions of the committee.

    I have been asking for a simple sub-committee listing and it still has not been provided even after multiple requests.

  • Arne Simonsen

    Sean, when I was on the CCRP Executive Committee 2003-2008, we always had lists of the standing and ad hoc subcommittees available to the entire CCRP. In fact, we were always seeking more volunteers for those committees!

    As an Alternate Member, I am fully aware of who the committee members are.