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Archive for November, 2009

We have a new lieutenant governor

Abel MaldonadoGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has named state Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, to serve as Lieutenant Governor, now that Democrat John Garamendi has won election to the House in the 10th Congressional District.

“Senator Maldonado has proven he has the strength and courage it takes to reach across the partisan divide and put the interests of Californians first and he is absolutely the most qualified person to take on the role of Lieutenant Governor,” Schwarzenegger said in his news release. “Senator Maldonado shares my commitment to creating a transparent, accountable government that works for the people. He will be a true partner in solving the critical issues facing our state and building a stronger future for California.”

“Like the Governor, I learned the values of hard work, dedication and personal responsibility at a young age and place a high priority on reforming California’s broken government so that it is more responsive to and reflective of California’s diverse population,” Maldonado said in the same release. “I’m honored to take on the position of Lieutenant Governor and I look forward to working with the Governor to tackle important issues facing California and to ensure all Californians have the opportunity to realize their own American Dream.”

The appointment requires Senate and Assembly confirmation; the lieutenant governor is paid $159,134 per year.

Maldonado, 42, has represented the 15th State Senate District since 2004, and before that, the 33rd Assembly District from 1998 to 2004; he was Santa Maria’s youngest and first Latino mayor from 1996 to 1998 and a city council member for two years before that. He attended California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo where he completed coursework in crop science.

This year, he used his precious Republican vote on a budget agreement to exact a promise from the Democratic majority to put an “open primary” ballot measure before voters next year.

Maldonado in 2006 – after his bid for state Controller ended with a primary loss to the more conservative Tony Strickland – had knocked Schwarzenegger for not doing more to support his moderate candidacy.

“Our governor cares about one thing only, and that’s Arnold Schwarzenegger,” Maldonado told the Los Angeles Times, also knocking the governor’s track record on Latino issues. “When he needs Latinos, Latinos are always there for him. When Latinos need him, the answer’s been no.”

But Maldonado issued a public apology after that, and it surely seems they’ve patched things up.

Meanwhile, progressive Dems are already making plans for how to win the 15th State Senate District. And how are Republicans Sam Aanestad and Jeff Denham, already campaigning for the lieutenant governor’s office, feeling about the possibility of facing a Republican incumbent? Let’s wait and see…

UPDATE @ 6:02 P.M.: I spoke a few minutes ago with Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, who said he has known Maldonado since the day they both entered the Legislature 11 years ago.

“I have to offer him my congratulations, but unfortunately it makes my resolve to win the Republican primary even more firm,” he told me. “I think people are very tired of business as usual, and this represents business as usual with this governor, who is rewarding someone who in my opinion has shown for 11 years a lack of political principles, he has wavered all over the place.”

Maldonado’s budget votes, raising taxes he’d pledged not to raise, will doom him in the GOP’s eyes, Aanestad predicted. “I welcome the debate but I will be running in the Republican primary and I expect the base of this party will reject Abel and his history and will not select him as their standard-bearer in the lieutenant governor’s race.”

Along the same lines, Denham’s camp just issued this statement:

“I anticipate a rigorous confirmation process for this appointment and potentially an even more rigorous Republican primary for Lt. Governor. It is difficult to see how a candidate who has voted for a massive tax increase could possibly win a statewide Republican primary.”

And, jeez, aren’t we all going to miss it when Schwarzenegger is no longer governor and major announcements on California’s highest elected offices are no longer made on “The Jay Leno Show?” Read the transcript of how it went down, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, November 23rd, 2009
Under: Abel Maldonado, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lt. Governor | 9 Comments »

Senators, Governor urge high-speed rail funding

U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, joined by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, wrote to President Barack Obama today in support of California’s requests for high-speed and intercity rail funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Read the full text of the letter, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, November 23rd, 2009
Under: Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, economy, Transportation, U.S. Senate | 4 Comments »

CD11: CoCo sheriff endorses Goehring

Rupf

Rupf

Contra Costa Country Sheriff Warren Rupf, who considered running for the 11th Congressional District himself, has endorsed Lodi grapegrower Brad Goehring in the 2010 Republican primary.

“Brad Goehring is a candidate that understands the nature of the law enforcement mission and the tools we need to accomplish it.  I trust Brad to work with local law enforcement and to be a voice for fiscal sanity and job creation in Washington DC.  I am proud to endorse Brad Goehring for the Republican nomination and as our next Congressman,” Repf said in a prepared release.

Read on for the full release from Goehring’s campaign:

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Posted on Thursday, November 19th, 2009
Under: 2010 election, congressional district 11 | 4 Comments »

Nava’s AG fundraiser set for Harris’ backyard

Pedro NavaEnvironmentalists will hold a fundraiser next month for the state Attorney General campaign of Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, right in one of his chief rivals’ backyards.

The Sunday, Dec. 9 event – for which tickets cost $100 to $500 each – will be held at the San Francisco home of environmental attorney Trent Orr and University of San Francisco Law Professor Brian Mikulak, just over two miles from the office of San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, who also is a Democratic primary candidate for Attorney General.

The event’s other co-chairs are Steve Block (this one, I believe) [UPDATE: It's California Coastal Commissioner Steve Blank, not Block; the initial news release contained a typo]; Stanford Law Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy Program director Meg Caldwell; former California Coastal Commission Chief Counsel Ralph Faust; California Coastal Commissioner Patrick Kruer; Sierra Club California Coastal Program Director Mark Massara; former Sonoma County Supervisor and former California Coastal Commission Chairman Mike Reilly; Committee for Green Foothills San Mateo County legislative advocate Lennie Roberts; California Coastal Conservancy project manager and recent Half Moon Bay City Council candidate Deborah Ruddock; California Coastal Commission Chief Counsel Hope Schmeltzer; and California Coastal Commissioner Mary Shallenberger.

Nava by June 30 of this year had raised $202,351.02 for his campaign, and hasn’t reported much in big-ticket ($5,000+) contributions since then. Harris had raised $751,675.46 by June 30, and looks to have raised at least about $240,000 more in big-ticket contributions since.

Also in the Democratic primary for Attorney General are Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Newark; Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance; former Facebook chief privacy officer Chris Kelly; and former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. State Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, is the only declared Republican candidate.

Posted on Thursday, November 19th, 2009
Under: 2010 election, Attorney General, Kamala Harris | 2 Comments »

Former Tauscher aid to join BART

Former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher’s district director, Jennifer Barton, has been selected BART’s new executive manager of external affairs.

BART General Manager Dorothy Dugger told her team this morning of her choice of Barton, who has been the face of District 10 for seven years. (See memo below.)

Barton has been working for newly elected Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, during the transition.

But BART is a good fit for Barton. She knows transportation; Tauscher was the ranking Californian on the House Transportation Committee. And Barton is highly respected and well-liked among East Bay power brokers.

“I am thrilled to have this new job at BART,” Barton said. “I started the application process back in June. It’s hard to leave such a great congressional shop, although I will still have the opportunity in my new job to work with a lot of the same people.”

Barton will succeed Katherine Strehl, who retired from BART.

Garamendi had this to say about Barton:  “I want to thank Jennifer Barton for her service to the 10th Congressional District. She has been an invaluable resource during my Congressional transition. While I am sad to see her go, I am happy for Jennifer and glad that BART has hired such a knowledgable and competent person as their director of external affairs. I look forward to working with Jennifer in her new capacity in the years to come.”

Read on for memo from Dugger:

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Posted on Thursday, November 19th, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, Transportation | 1 Comment »

Strife, leadership change at Alameda County GOP

A controversial resolution calling for a non-interventionist foreign policy – meaning a withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq – was shot down by the Alameda County Republican Central Committee last night, even as the committee’s chair changed hands between the party’s warring factions.

Former chairman Jerry Salcido – among a faction of “Constitutional Republicans,” a group often associated with former presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex. – announced his resignation last week after just a few months in the post. He told me today he’s moving back to Utah to start his own law firm with his brother.

a party dividedThe Constitutional Republicans and the mainstream GOPers some call “neo-conservatives” have been embroiled in a battle for a year and a half. Committeeman Paul Cummings Jr. of Oakland has a lawsuit pending against several of the Constitutional Republicans, claiming their June 2008 election to the committee was invalid because they hadn’t been affiliated with the Republican Party for at least three months before their candidacy filing dates, and/or because they’d belonged to other parties within a year before filing, in violation of the state Elections Code. (A hearing on this is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 18.)

So with Salcido leaving, a struggle for control ensued: The Constitutional Republicans put up Brian Eschen, 34, of Pleasanton, while the neo-cons backed John Wyrwas of Berkeley. Wyrwas – a Ph.D. candidate in electrical engineering at Cal – narrowly prevailed, winning the county GOP’s chair one day after his 25th birthday.

“We’re all very excited about the next year,” Wyrwas told me this aftneroon. “I think starting in January our committee is going to be a lot more civil than we were in the past, and I think a lot of our problems will be behind us.”

He noted he ran as a moderate: “There’s a lot I agree on with both factions… We’re looking at a lot of potential.”

Salcido, 31, of Fremont, wished Wyrwas “the best of luck, he seems like a really good guy…. I’m hoping he’ll be impartial with the two factions that are there, because Lord knows we need it.”

Cummings, 53, of Oakland, said he’s thrilled and optimistic at the resolution’s defeat and Wyrwas’ election – he feels as if the good guys are back in charge. Walter Stanley III, among the Constitutional Republican faction’s leaders, isn’t so happy, knocking Cummings’ faction as “pro-national-offense Republicans… They don’t care about the Constitution, they don’t care that it’s an undeclared war, the just care about protecting George Bush.”

Salcido said he was “very disappointed” by the defeat of the foreign-policy resolution, which he co-authored and presented to the committee last night.

“It’s just an indication to me why the Republican Party is having such troubles nowadays, they just want to hold onto this pro-war, interventionist stance that is killing our soldiers and bankrupting our country,” he said, noting the opposing faction seems “more interested in power rather than principle. … They actually said the reasons why terrorists want to kill us is because we’re free and we’re prosperous, they actually believe that, and that’s incredible to me.”

(Note: A server-upgrade glitch has made my previous post about the foreign-policy resolution, from yesterday, temporarily unavailable; my tech people tell me they should be able to restore it and other posts tomorrow morning. UPDATE @ 1 P.M. THURSDAY: THIS HAS BEEN FIXED.)

Stanley said the foreign-policy resolution had 13 votes in favor and 20 against, but at least it was “an educational opportunity” that drew a few new observers to last night’s committee meeting – and expanding the party’s base of members and activists is supposed to be the committee’s goal.

“What they would prefer to do is absolutely nothing,” he charged of committee members such as Cummings and Dick Spees of Oakland, whom he described as “the leader of the ‘George Bushers…’ These guys couldn’t be doing better to sabotage the efforts of the Republican Party if they were Democrats.”

But Stanley said he’s optimistic that Constitutional Republicans will gain more ground on the committee in 2010. “We’ll keep doing things by the book… we’re going to be there, they’ll be forced to deal with us, and we’re going to attempt to get the Republican Party back on track.”

“We have nowhere to go but up, and that’s what we’re trying to do in Alameda County.”

Posted on Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Alameda County, Iraq, Republican Party, Republican politics | 17 Comments »

Garamendi wins transportation assignment

Rep. John Garamendi

Rep. John Garamendi

House Democratic leaders have recommended Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, be appointed to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The House Democratic Steering Committee has also voted to place Garamendi on the Science and Technology Committee.

The full House Democratic caucus is expected to ratify the appointments when it reconvenes.

Garamendi, like his predecessor, Ellen Tauscher, will be the only Northern California representative on the transportation panel.

Congress is scheduled to reauthorize its national transportation spending blueprint in the next year. The legislation typically contains formulas that spell out the return of gas tax dollars to states. Committee members have considerable influence over its contents as well as earmarks for specific projects.

Garamendi was elected to District 10 on Nov. 3. The district includes Walnut Creek, Lamorinda, Livermore and smaller segments of Solano and Sacramento counties.

Read on for Garamendi’s press release on the subject.

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Posted on Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
Under: Congress, Congressional District 10 | 2 Comments »

A sit-down with Damon Dunn

I met with Damon Dunn, the professional athlete-turned-businessman-turned Republican candidate for Secretary of State, this morning at Tully’s Coffee in downtown Oakland’s Frank Ogawa Plaza — but caffeine is the last thing he needed.

Damon DunnDunn, 33, is a live wire, a mile-a-minute speaker drawing on his energy as a former NFL player and perhaps on the cadences of his experience as an ordained Baptist minister to explain why he’s the right choice to be California’s chief elections officer despite not only never having held an elected position before, but also never having voted in an election until this May.

In short, he said the election should be just as much about life experience, authenticity and leadership as about one’s history in office and the voting booth.

Dunn said he wants the job in part because his status as a “recovering non-voter” with a “unique posture and demographic” gives him an edge in reaching out to people – especially minorities – and convincing them to register and vote.

He also said the Secretary of State – and all statewide elected officials – should take a more activist role in improving California’s business climate in furtherance of job creation he said. As custodian of corporate records, the Secretary of State is in a particularly effective position to analyze data and make recommendations to the Legislature on tweaking tax and regulatory policy to recruit and retain business. “If you want to get more out of that office … I can do that.”

Faith is a big part of his life and he describes himself as conservative on social issues, but he said he’ll not make hot-button issues such as abortion and gay marriage a part of his campaign. Too many people on both sides of the aisle have done so rather than making strong cases for how they’ll do the jobs they seek, he said.

For now he’s the only Republican who has declared candidacy for this office, but if his refusal to stump on social issues causes problems for him with parts of the GOP’s base and a struggle in the primary election, so be it, Dunn said.

“If people don’t want leadership, if they want ideologues, then that’s OK … but I’m a prinicipled guy,” he said. “I’m going to continue to run a solutions-oriented campaign.”

More after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, November 18th, 2009
Under: 2010 election, Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

John T. Nejedly to run for Contra Costa Assessor

Kramer

Kramer

Nejedly

Nejedly

Contra Costa Community College Director John T. Nejedly has declared his intent to challenge Contra Costa County Assessor Gus Kramer.

Nejedly, son of the late state Sen. John A. Nejedly and sibling to Supervisor Mary Piepho and Central Contra Costa Sanitary District Director Jim Nejedly, had been considering a run for District Attorney but his short tenure as an attorney — he passed the bar in December 2007 — was a significant barrier.

This could get very interesting.

Kramer already had one declared opponent, Bob Brooks. And Kramer has suffered some bad publicity in the past year after a Times series chronicled allegations that the avid real estate investor misused his office for personal gain. The District Attorney’s Office has launched an investigation but Kramer has not been formally accused of any wrongdoing.

Nejedly has seen his share of negative press, too. The 14-year veteran of the college board sued his siblings after their late father disowned him, alleging they conspired to cheat him out of his share of the senator’s Walnut Creek estate. Court documents revealed Nejedly’s history of drug abuse and marital problems; Nejedly has said he has overcome those issues.

The candidates will appear on the June 2010 ballot. If any one candidate receives 50 percent plus one vote, he or she will win the seat outright. If not, the top two voter-getters will compete in a runoff in November 2010.

Posted on Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
Under: 2010 election, Contra Costa County | 5 Comments »

Alameda County GOP infights over foreign policy

Expect fireworks at tonight’s Alameda County Republican Central Committee meeting, as there’s a debate and vote on a proposed resolution endorsing a non-interventionist foreign policy – which in the short term means pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The resolution was introduced by committeemen Jerry Salcido, Walter Stanley III and David LaTour – the county GOP’s chairman, vice chairman and assistant treasurer, respectively. All three are “Constitutional Republicans” aligned with the Republican Liberty Caucus, a libertarian-leaning group often associated with former presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas. The county GOP’s executive committee last week voted 4-1, with one absention, to approve the resolution and send it to the full committee’s monthly meeting for a 2/3 vote.

The Alameda County GOP has been torn by strife for well over a year now, with a lawsuit still pending over these and other Ron Paul supporters’ election to the committee.

The California Court of Appeal in September reinstated the case, in which committeeman Paul Cummings Jr. of Oakland claims Stanley, of Livermore, and several other Constitutional Republicans were ineligible for election to the committee in June 2008 because they hadn’t been affiliated with the Republican Party for at least three months before their candidacy filing dates, and/or because they’d belonged to other parties within a year before filing, in violation of the state Elections Code.

This resolution is likely to deepen the rift. Among its many “whereases” are that our foreign policy of the past century is deeply flawed and hasn’t served our national security interests; that “the terrorist threat is a predictable consequence of our meddling in the affairs of others and has nothing to do with us being free and prosperous;” and that “torture, even if referred to as ‘enhanced interrogation techniques,’ is self-destructive and produces no useful information and that contracting it out to a third world country or a corporation is just as evil.”

Incidentally, that’s not unlike the verbiage in a resolution approved last month by Berkeley City Council calling for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops and contractors for Afghanistan (or, for that matter, several other resolutions that council has approved in recent years).

Compare the county GOP’s proposed resolution also to an Afghanistan-withdrawal resolution approved Sunday by the California Democratic Party’s executive board.

And that’s not sitting well with GOP committee members other than the Constitutional Republicans.

“I’m certainly in knots about it,” Cummings said today. “I’m a retired Navy officer, and I’m shocked that while we have troops in the field, we would put together a document that is so disparaging of our policy in the war on terror. Some of the comments in it are beyond the pale.”

Read the full text of the resolution, after the jump…
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Posted on Tuesday, November 17th, 2009
Under: Afghanistan, Alameda County, General, Iraq, Republican Party, Republican politics, War on Terror | 3 Comments »