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Archive for August, 2009

CD10 fundraising tops $2 million

Fundraising leading up to the Sept. 1 special election in the 10th Congressional District has topped $2 million, according to the federal campaign filing reports due last night.

Democratic candidate and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi of Walnut Grove leads the pack. He has raised $517,368 since he launched his campaign and $216,655 in the last reporting period between July 1 and Aug. 12.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, has been unable to keep up with his chief rival. He has raised $378,028 during the election cycle and $168,249 in the most recent reporting period. His lag behind Garamendi may reflect the two recent polls, which show Garamendi with a double-digit lead.

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, has loaned her campaign a staggering $750,000 and raised just $94,165 from other sources. She could potentially outspend both Garamendi and DeSaulnier. But she may have had little choice but to dip into her own bank account after her chief rivals locked down most of the sources of traditional money for Democratic candidates.

Anthony Woods, the Democratic Iraq War veteran from Fairfield, has raised a respectable $214,105 for his congressional bid. He collected about half that amount in the last reporting period, an indication that perhaps his candidacy would benefit from more time. With election day around the corner on Sept. 1 and a substantial number of folks who have already voted by mail, he may find it difficult it catch up with the bigger name Democrats.

The only Republican among the six on the ballot who has raised any money, David Harmer, an attorney from Dougherty Valley, has raised $244,599. In the last reporting period, he raised $69,282.  And Harmer still has nearly $100,000 in the bank. With no serious competition, he will almost certainly win the GOP nomination and must finance a Nov. 3 runoff campaign. He needs to pace himself.

To look at the FEC reports yourself, click here and type in the candidate’s name.

Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election | No Comments »

Poochigian nominated to state appeals court

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today nominated Chuck Poochigan, the former state Senator from Fresno and the 2006 GOP nominee for state Attorney General, to the California Court of Appeal’s Fifth District. And so soon after having a highway named after him!

Poochigian, 60, has been an attorney with Fresno-based Dowling, Aaron and Keeler since November 2007. Earlier, he’d represented the 14th State Senate District from 1998 to 2006, and the 29th Assembly District from 1994 to 1998. He’d been Gov. Pete Wilson’s appointments secretary from 1991 to 1994, and Gov. George Deukmejian’s chief deputy appointment secretary from 1988 to 1991.

Earlier yet, Poochigian was an attorney in solo practice from 1975 to 1981, and a partner at Vartabedian and Poochigian from 1975 to 1981. He holds a law degree from Santa Clara University School of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree from California State University, Fresno.

California appellate court nominees must be confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which consists of California Chief Justice Ronald George; Attorney General Jerry Brown (who won his post by defeating Poochigian in 2006); and the senior presiding justice of the Court of Appeal of the affected appellate district – in this case, James Ardaiz.

But before a candidate is nominated by the governor, his or her qualifications are reviewed by the California State Bar’s Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation. Los Angeles attorney Roger Grace, who publishes a legal newspaper called the Metropolitan News-Enterprise, wrote a column a few days ago claiming the JNE found Poochigian “not qualified,” but I’m not sure how he could know that given the JNE’s confidentiality rules:

The commission reports its recommendations, in absolute confidence, to the Governor. The rule “. . . prohibits disclosure of any information of any nature to anyone. . .” except as otherwise provided by the statute. The commission does inform a candidate who has been found not qualified of that fact.
The only other exception is if the Governor appoints a person to a trial court who has been found not qualified, the State Bar may make this fact public after due notice to the appointee of its intention to do so.
When the Governor nominates a person to the Supreme Court or Court of Appeal, the JNE Commission submits its recommendation, and the reasons for such recommendation, to the Commission on Judicial Appointments, and appears at the public hearing to present its recommendation and reasons.

So I guess we’ll know the truth of it when CJA holds its public hearing.

At any rate, I guess Poochigian probably won’t be needing the $68,000+ he has in his campaign committee account for the 2010 Attorney General’s race.

Posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2009
Under: General | 5 Comments »

CD10: Candidate forum replays online and cable

Voters in the 10th Congressional District unable to attend recent forums of the candidates in the two major parties may view those events online and on cable television.

The special election to replace former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher is Sept. 1.

The Aug. 7 and Aug. 11 forums featuring the 11 Democratic and Republican candidates are available 24-7 on-line at www.contracostatimes/politics.

The Contra Costa Council and Bay Area Council from held on Aug. 7 will air on Comcast community television on:

Tri Valley Channel 26: Aug. 22 and Aug. 29, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Aug. 30, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Channel 28 in Walnut Creek, Channel 26 in Central Contra Costa County and Channel 24 in East Contra Costa County: Aug. 22 and 29, 2 and 7 p.m.; Aug. 30, 7 p.m.

The Aug. 11 forum sponsored by Saint Mary’s College, League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley and the Contra Costa Times will air on Comcast community television on:

Tri Valley Channel 26: Aug. 21, 7 p.m.; Aug. 22, 4 and 9 p.m.; Aug. 28, 7 p.m.;  Aug. 29, 4 and 9 p.m.

Channel 28 in Walnut Creek, Channel 26 in Central Contra Costa County and Channel 24 in East Contra Costa County: Aug. 21, 7 p.m.; Aug. 22, 4 and 9 p.m.; Aug. 28, 7 p.m., Aug. 29, 4 and 9 p.m.; and Aug. 30, 9 p.m.

Posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election | No Comments »

Lockyer takes early fundraising lead in supes race

The race for the Alameda County Board of Supervisors District 2 seat which Gail Steele will be vacating next year – which as I reported in May has attracted some candidates with big-time name recognition – is off to an interesting fundraising start.

Nadia Lockyer raised $69,486.50 in the year’s first half and spent very little, ending up with $67,662.83 cash on hand as of June 30. Contributions came from all over California; some of the familiar local donors included former Assemblyman Johan Klehs, D-San Leandro, ($1,000); Supervisor Scott Haggerty’s campaign committee ($500); and Alameda County Chief Assistant District Attorney Nancy O’Malley ($250), who works with Lockyer in her capacity as executive director of the Alameda County Family Justice Center. And husband state Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s 2010 reelection committee gave her committee a nonmonetary, in-kind contribution of fundraising help worth $1,687.50. But don’t worry, he can afford it – his committee had a whopping $9.38 million in the bank as of June 30.

Former state Sen. Liz Figueroa, D-Sunol, now a member of the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, is also in the race, but her midyear statement shows no fundraising at all; it says she had no cash on hand as of June 30 and outstanding debts of $1,243.95.

“I do think it’s kind of early on to do fundraising, we’re just starting,” Figueroa told me this afternoon. “My competitor is going to raise lots of money because she has resources to get lots of money and a husband who we’ve been told is going to give her as much money as she needs.”

But Figueroa said she intends to give Lockyer a run for her money. “Oh, definitely, yes. It’s my old Senate district, I’ve been in Alameda County all of my adult life, I have a very positive name recognition. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors primarily deals with health care and criminal just issues; health care was my main focus in the Legislature and I worked in the criminal justice system in Alameda County, so I have experience in both.”

In fact, Figueroa had an opinion piece published in today’s San Jose Mercury News, wherein she voiced support for public financing of election campaigns:

It’s unfortunate, but true: financial barriers have kept too many Latinos, and particularly women, from serving in elected office. Our current election system requires candidates to have personal wealth or access to networks of wealthy private donors in order to run a winning campaign. Too often, this means campaigns are won by the person with the most money rather than the most qualified candidate.
While I was fortunate to succeed in four legislative races under the current system, I also know that challenges in raising money too often keep talented candidates from being elected. The California Fair Elections Act represents the change voters want and the reform our state needs to ensure Latinos are fairly represented.

More on other candidates’ fundraising in this race, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2009
Under: 2010 election, Alameda County, campaign finance, General | 2 Comments »

‘Da Mayor’ coming to San Ramon

Willie Brown Jr.

Willie Brown Jr.

Willie Brown Jr., the legendary former mayor of San Francisco and speaker of the California Assembly, will be the featured speaker at the Sept. 3 meeting of the Contra Costa County Mayors Conference.

San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson traveled to San Francisco a few months ago, had lunch with Brown and successfully persuaded the famed California politician to come to Contra Costa. Brown is now a newspaper columnist, frequently quoted pundit and director of the Willie Brown Jr. Institute on Politics and Public Service.

The mayors conference is made up of the mayors of Contra Costa County cities and it rotates among its member cities monthly.

Brown’s speech is free and open to the public but it will cost $50 if you want to stay for dinner.

The conference meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Bishop Ranch Business Park, No. 8, 3000 Executive Parkway, San Ramon.

The dinner begins at 8 p.m. To RSVP for the meal, contact Karen McHenry-Smith at or call 925-973-2532 by 5 p.m. on Aug. 26.

Posted on Thursday, August 20th, 2009
Under: Contra Costa politics, Political events | No Comments »

Rifts on both sides of same-sex marriage lawsuit

As I report in today’s article, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco has set a trial date for the federal constitutional challenge to Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage.

He also rejected motions to intervene from a trio of gay-rights groups – the Our Family Coalition, Lavender Seniors and Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) – represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, as well as from the conservative Campaign for California Families.

And in arguing for and against both, attorneys again highlighted some of the tactical rifts that have formed on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate.

An attorney for the Campaign for California Families argued that Prop. 8’s proponents, who’ve already successfully intervened as proponents in this case (as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and various state and county defendants basically have declined to defend the measure’s constitutionality), may generally share CCF’s opposition to same-sex marriage but are making too many concessions in trying to defend the ban.

Stipulating, or leaving room for a future stipulation, that gays and lesbians form committed relationships, contribute to society just as heterosexuals do, don’t suffer from a psychological illness or disorder, and shouldn’t be encouraged to try to change their sexual orientations are examples of how the proponents are ceding too much ground, she said, and could compromise CCF’s efforts not only to keep marriage exclusively heterosexual but also to repeal existing domestic partnership laws granting certain marriage-like rights to same-sex couples.

But a lawyer for Prop. 8’s proponents urged Walker to deny CCF’s motion to intervene, saying doing so would cause “experts to multiply like locusts” and bog down the case’s trial in “battles that can’t be won.”

On the other side, an ACLU attorney argued his coalition of clients should be allowed to intervene because of the broad range of detailed experience their members have with discrimination and the desire to marry.

But former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson, representing the case’s plaintiffs – specific couples denied the right to marry – said that although he respects the coalition’s legal counsel and values their advice and support, letting them intervene could dilute his clients’ control of their legal strategy while complicating and slowing the case’s progress. In a recent brief, he’d noted that the Our Family Coalition had argued against this lawsuit in the first place, calling it a risky and premature gambit and preferring to pursue a new ballot measure to repeal Prop. 8.

Posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
Under: General, same-sex marriage | Comments Off on Rifts on both sides of same-sex marriage lawsuit

Tauscher sworn in … again

The Washington Post’s foreign policy website reports today that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially swore in former East Bay Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher Monday as her Undersecretary for International Security and Arms Control.

Wait? Didn’t a federal judge already do that in June? I thought so, too. But who am I to argue with the Washington Post or the State Department’s mysterious ways.

Here is the first part of The Cable site’s entry. Click here for the full report.

Just back from an 11-day trip to Africa and before meetings with Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and the White House and then heading off for vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton swore in her close ally, former Rep. Ellen Tauscher, as undersecretary of State for arms control and international security Monday in the State Department’s eighth floor Ben Franklin room. In attendance were National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones and his wife, long-time friends of Tauscher and her new groom Jim Cieslak (like Jones a former Marine), along with Clinton’s special advisor on arms control and international security Robert Einhorn, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance and Implementation Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns, and Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro.

Posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
Under: Ellen Tauscher | No Comments »

Conservatives plan rally outside McNerney’s office



UPDATE 6:37 P.M. In response to the announcement of the protest, Rep. Jerry McNerney’s spokeswoman Sarah Hersh said the congressman has prior commitments to attend events in San Joaquin County on Saturday, including a visit to battered women’s shelter and meeting with teachers. But Hersh said he will make staff available on Saturday at his office to listen to constituents’ concerns, and staff will provide him with a briefing later in the day. LAV.

If Rep. Jerry McNerney won’t have a town hall on health care, the town hall will come to him.

Tri-Valley conservatives who helped organize “tea party” protests of Democratic policies in the past year in the area have announced a rally for noon Saturday in front of McNerney’s Pleasanton office to protest the Democrats’ health care legislation.

McNerney, like many other Democrats, held teletown halls via a telephone conference system rather than public town hall meetings. Although McNerney has been widely praised on both sides of the political aisle for hosting more than 50 in-person Congress On Your Corner events since his election in 2006, McNerney is now coming under fire from critics who say he is dodging his constituents on the controversial health care legislation.

McNerney and his neighbor, Rep. George Miller, opted for the more easily controlled teletown halls last week. The lawmakers pointed to major disruptions in town hall meetings in other Congressional districts across the country, creating what Democrats call a hostile environment orchestrated by right-wing organizations unlikely to foster useful debate on the subject.

Several political science professors at several California universities have called that stance unproductive and unlikely to reassure the many constituents worried about changes in their health insurance.

The Saturday rally is already the subject of discussion on conservative talk radio KSFO and could potentially draw a substantial number of protesters.

Whether or not it will influence McNerney’s unequivocal support of health care reform legislation is a different question.  But unlike most congressional incumbents, McNerney’s re-election is far from certain as District 11 remains one of the few politically competitive districts in the state.

Read on for the event organizer’s press release sent out a few minutes ago: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
Under: congressional district 11, Jerry McNerney | 45 Comments »

RNC challenges federal campaign finance laws

Congressional Quarterly reports that the Republican National Committee has filed a lawsuit challenging federal campaign finance limits on its contribution of cash to state-level candidates.

If the RNC is successful, it could open the door to a far greater involvement of the national party in California’s 2010 gubernatorial race along with the hotly contested gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia mentioned in CQ’s story.

Click here to read the full story but here are the first few paragraphs. I added the emphasis on the sentence in bold.

The Republican National Committee is asking a federal court to restore the ability of national parties to raise unlimited amounts of money and to spend it to help elect state-level candidates.

The case focuses on hotly contested governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia. The 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign financing law (PL 107-155) does not allow national parties to give money directly to state candidates. The RNC wants to change that so it can expressly back the party nominee for governor, advertise and send out mailings on behalf of state or local Republican candidates and make get-out-the-vote calls.

The law also bans the parties from taking unlimited big-dollar contributions from corporations, unions and wealthy donors – a type of donation known as “soft money” – and the RNC wants to reverse that as well.

The case will be heard Aug. 27 by a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the ruling could be appealed straight to the Supreme Court.

An RNC victory would deal a major blow to the landmark campaign finance law named for Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, and open the door to a more prominent role for the national parties in state-level races.

Republicans say the law violates the First Amendment by preventing national parties from helping state-level candidates.

Posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2009
Under: campaign finance, Republican Party | No Comments »

CD10: About a fifth of mail-in ballots already cast

Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters Steve Weir reports that as of Monday, his office had issued 121,231 vote-by-mail ballots in the special 10th Congressional District election  and has received back 24,066, or 20 percent.

Contra Costa comprises about 68 percent of the voters in the district.

For the May 19 special election, Contra Costa had received about 17 percent by about the same time in the cycle. The final return rate for vote-by-mail ballots for that election was about 53 percent.

He also says he has about 2,700 ballots from Tuesday’s mail that have not been processed, which will put up the return rate to 22 percent.

What does this mean for campaigns? It means they are running out of time to persuade voters with those cable ads and mailers.

At the moment, Weir is predicting a total turnout of 38 percent of registered voters in District 10, not as low as I would have predicted.

Posted on Tuesday, August 18th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election | No Comments »