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Archive for March, 2010

Legislature hits record low poll numbers

It’s a really bad time to be an incumbent.

For the first time in the history of the Public Policy Institute of California’s survey history, the state legislature’s approval ratings among likely voters have dropped to a single digit — 9 percent.

“Pessimism about the economy, disdain for the major parties and low approval ratings for elected officials are creating an unusual amount of political turbulence this election year,” said PPIC president and pollster Mark Baldassare. “The candidates cannot take any voters for granted — regardless of their party identification and past loyalties — because Californians want answers to problems that won’t go away.”

In other poll findings:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s record low approval rating of 25 percent hovers near former Gov. Gray Davis’ lowest level before the recall of 21 percent.

Congress’ approval rating is 14 percent, a 15-point drop in three months.

When asked to rate their own members of Congress, the numbers rise to 44 percent favorable but that is a new low, too.

When it comes to the political parties, 41 percent have a favorable impression of Democrats while 31 percent gave passing marks to Republicans, while 55 percent say the county needs a new third party.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman holds a 50-point lead over primary opponent Steve Whitman. In a potential November match-up with Democrat Jerry Brown, Whitman leads Brown 41 percent to 36 percent.

In the U.S. Senate race, Carly Fiorina and Tom Campbell are battling for top spot, each is deadlocked with Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.

A slim majority of those surveyed support Proposition 14, which would end the partisan-based primary process in California.

Half of those responded, for the first time, support same-sex marriage.

Half also support health care reform although the partisan split is strong — 70 percent of Democrats like it, 76 percent of Republicans are opposed.

On immigration, 70 percent say illegal immigrants who have been living and working in the United States for at least years should be allowed to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status.

Posted on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
Under: polls | 3 Comments »

AD15: Wilson has slight fundraising lead





GOP Assembly District 15 primary candidate Abram Wilson is slightly ahead in the money contest against Democratic incumbent Joan Buchanan.

Excluding a personal loan of $14,000, Wilson has collected $207,139 in contributions since Jan. 1, 2009, and has $119,891 in the bank as of March 17.

Buchanan, who has not loaned her campaign money, raised $189,374 in the same period and had $115,813 in the bank. (Buchanan loaned her congressional bid in 2009 nearly $1 million.)

To view their full reports online, click here for Buchanan and here for Wilson.

Neither candidate has an opponent in the June 8 primary, which means they can dedicate their warchests to what most expect will be a highly competitive and expensive general election battle. Democrats seized the seat from Republicans in 2008 with Buchanan’s win and they are as eager to keep it as the GOP is to take it back.

Posted on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Assembly District 15 | 1 Comment »

GOP takes a swing at Cal prof judicial nominee

The Republican National Committee today put out its first major partisan hit piece on University of California, Berkeley Boalt Hall Law School Associate Dean and Professor Goodwin Liu, whom President Barack Obama nominated last month to a seat on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

As I’d reported on the blog and in print, the GOP doesn’t care for Liu’s liberal credentials – he chairs the progressive American Constitution Society’s board of directors; he’s a former member of the boards of the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and Chinese for Affirmative Action; and he served on the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition’s education policy and agency review teams – or for his belief that judges should interpret the Constitution not according to “how its general principles would have been applied in 1789 or 1868, but rather how those principles should be applied today in order to preserve their power and meaning in light of the concerns, conditions, and evolving norms of our society.”

Posted on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
Under: Obama presidency | 7 Comments »

Watch Miller video on health bill signing ceremony

A clearly happy Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, talks on video after he returns from the bill-signing ceremony today, where President Barack Obama signed historic health care legislation.

Miller, who helped write the legislation and has been advocating for many of its contents since he was elected 35 years ago, is one of a handful of people who will receive one of the pens that Obama used to sign the bill.

The congressman also talks about the receipt of a blue wristband that Sen. Ted Kennedy’s widow, Vicki, gave him in memory of her husband and the Democrats’ fight to pass health care legislation.

Posted on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
Under: George Miller, healthcare reform | 5 Comments »

Contra Costa candidates report cash

Candidates in the the top contested countywide races in Contra Costa filed their pre-primary campaign finance reports last night.

Here’s a rundown:

District Attorney

Bill O’Malley, a Danville attorney and former judge, leads the fund-raising pack with $173,012 in contributions since Jan. 1, 2009, and has $60,657 in the bank as of March 17. Concord Councilman and Deputy District Attorney Mark Peterson raised $63,840 since Jan. 1, 2009, and had $11,655 in the bank as of March 17. Danville attorney Elle Falahat reported $84,398 in contributions, of which $50,000 was a personal loan. She had 2,912 in the bank.


Concord Police Chief David Livingston has substantially outraised his opponent, reporting $110,945 in contributions since Jan. 1, 2009, and had $51,572 in the bank as of March 17. It includes $3,100 in person loans. Sheriff’s Department Lieutenant and Antioch Councilman Brian Kalinowski collected $50,658 in the same period and had $1,755 in the bank. He has personally loaned his campaign $13,640.

Board of Supervisors, District 1

Incumbent Supervisor John Gioia of Richmond significantly bumped up his fund-raising efforts, reporting contributions of $81,354 since Jan. 1, 2009. He had $34,338 in the bank as of March 17 and has made no loans to his campaign. The first period report of sole challenger, Mister Phillips of San Pablo, was not yet available.

Board of Supervisors, District IV (incumbent Susan Bonilla is running for Assembly)

After subtracting personal loans, Pleasant Hill Mayor Karen Mitchoff is ahead in the money race. She collected $27,407 since Jan. 1, 2009, and $9,679 in the bank as of March 17. Central Contra Costa Sanitary District board member Mike McGill, also of Pleasant Hill, raised $28,166 but loaned his campaign $14,500. He had $5,282 in the bank.

Note: We are busy adding these contributions to our new political contribution database. We’ll let you know as soon as we have the latest campaign donations on the site.

Posted on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

Assessor: New form of public campaign financing?





Bernice Peoples of Richmond, the woman who won a $1 million settlement from Contra Costa County in a lawsuit against Assessor Gus Kramer, has loaned $30,000 to the campaign of opponent and Antioch Realtor Bob Brooks.

Campaign finance reports filed by Monday’s deadline show that Peoples made the loan on Feb. 2, bringing Brookes’ total campaign contributions and loans to $39,545.

A jury last year found Kramer liable for retaliation against Peoples after she filed a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit. The court cleared Kramer of People’s other allegations.

Kramer, meanwhile, has raised $52,000, which includes a personal loan of $20,000. (Memo to Gus: Would you please stop filling out your campaign forms in pencil. They are gawd-awful to read …)

The third out of the four assessor candidates, John T. Nejedly, raised $25,070, including a $15,000 personal loan.

The fourth challenger, Ross Butler, had not filed a campaign statement as of today.

CORRECTION AND CLARIFICATION: A commenter correctly noted that I incorrectly used the word “women” instead of “woman” in the first sentence, which I have corrected. It was a typo. To the commenter’s other point, I have rewritten the first few paragraphs to make it clear that a jury found Kramer liable only for retaliation against Peoples after she filed a sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit.

Posted on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
Under: Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | 8 Comments »

Whitman shifting on tax returns?


Meg Whitman is now saying she will release only a summary of her tax returns, falling short of her initial offer only two weeks ago of releasing her full returns over 25 years.

 In comments to reporters after her appearance before a taxpayers’ group, Whitman, the former CEO of eBay who is running for governor, said she might release “a summary statement of the returns,” while conceding her campaign team hasn’t worked out details.

Whitman last week shifted slightly on the conditions of releasing her tax returns, saying she would release 25 years if Attorney General Jerry Brown, the only major Democratic gubernatorial candidate, would release his dating back to 1983 — 27 years ago — when he last left the governor’s office.

Whitman campaign spokeswoman Sarah Pompei told the San Jose Mercury News that Whitman had never committed to providing her full returns.

Jerry Brown, meanwhile, said he is willing to make his tax returns available, “but we expect her to make hers available at the same time.”

He called Whitman’s shifting positions “silly. I think they’re trying to obfuscate. I think she should stop folling around, speak straight to the people and release her tax returns for some reasonable amount of time.”

Brown said that if the candidates ultimately do release the returns, “you should be able to fully examine them. I have a hunch, based on the way they campaign, that they’ll play hide the ball. So, we’ll have to be very careful that she says what she means and means what she says.”

Whitman’s campaign, however, noted that Brown had released only a summary of his tax returns in 1992 during the Democratic presidential primary.



Posted on Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Brown is the first to file spending reports

Campaign finance filings by candidates and campaign committees are due today, by midnight. So far, only Attorney General Jerry Brown has posted his among gubernatorial candidates, and they’re the picture of austerity: He has $14 million in the bank after transferring $7.7 million from his attorney general account and adding another $2.1 million in cash raised since the first of the year — and spent only $144,000 in that period. With three paid staffers, zero paid advertisements and an enforced hoarding mentality, frugality is the watchword.

Brown’s largest expenditure was $21,200 for a fund-raising event; he also spent $20,000 on a focus group, and $15,000 on “research.” And we all know now that Steve Glazer, his campaign manager makes $15,000 a month — a discount compared to the $50,000 monthly stipend Whitman pays her top consultants.

We know that Whitman has contributed $39 million of her own money to her campaign treasury, but we haven’t seen how much of that she’s actually spent. With all those ads out there, here’s betting she’s spent much of it, and will probably have to dig into her own pockets soon enough.

Also looking out for Whitman GOP rival Steve Poizner’s reports: it will show relatively modest spending (granted, everything’s modest next to Whitman), which indicate’s he hasn’t veered from his strategy of waiting until he believes voters are tuning in before he drops real money. Down by a six-to-one margin, he’s either displaying the kind of discipline of a black belt in karate, which he has, or a mad bomber, Strangelovian-style.

Also waiting on the reports of the two independent committees, Level the Playing Field 2010 and Working Families 2010. Judging by their slow on-air start, their reports will likely have a lot less bite than bark.

Here’s the link to Brown’s spending reports on the state’s campaign finance Web site:

Among the interesting contributions to Brown: Jazz musician Herb Albert ($25,900), former Gov. and Brown’s ex-chief of staff Gray Davis ($2,500, though his money was given after the reporting period closed on March 17), Robert Shapiro, one of the attorneys in the O.J. Simpson case ($1,000); E&J Gallo Winery ($13,900), Coca Cola ($5,000), Rite Aid ($5,000), Eli Lilly ($10,000). Peter Lowy of Westfield America in Los Angeles came close to maxing out with $51,600 (the maximum contributors can give for the primary and general election cycles is $51,800). Los Angeles-based Bikram’s Yoga College of India ($51,800) shelled out the extra $200 to be done with it.

Posted on Monday, March 22nd, 2010
Under: Uncategorized | No Comments »

Campaign finance: Self-funders, Gray, celebs

Republican Jack Sieglock anted up $100,000 last Wednesday for his rematch with incumbent Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills, who defeated him in 2008’s general election. Andy Pugno – chief counsel for the Yes on 8 campaign against same-sex marriage – put up $100,000 the same day for his own bid in the 5th Assembly District, where incumbent Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, is term-limited out.

Former Gov. Gray Davis, now of counsel at the firm of Loeb and Loeb in Los Angeles, contributed $2,500 last Thursday to the Democratic gubernatorial campaign of California Attorney General Jerry Brown.

On the celebrity watch, actress Reese Witherspoon gave $1,500 last Wednesday to San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris’ campaign for the Democratic nomination for state attorney general. Harris also got $1,000 each that day from Double Features Films producers Michael and Carla Shamberg, whose company’s credits include movies such as “Garden State,” “The Skeleton Key” and “Reno 911!: Miami;” $2,000 from “Lost” co-creator and co-executive producer Damon Lindelof; and $1,000 each from MGM executive Mary Parent and chairman Harry Sloan. Also, director/producer Brett Ratner gave $1,000 Tuesday; Golden State Warriors co-owner Angela Cohan gave $1,500 Thursday; and NFL Network host Richard Eisen gave $1,000 Friday.

Also, film director/producer Rob Reiner gave $3,000 last Wednesday to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. Newsom also received $6,500 each that day from Starz LLC CEO Christopher Albrecht and from from real estate heir/movie producer Steve Bing, California’s top individual political spender of the last decade. ($6,500 is .0112 percent of $58,050,783, in case you were wondering.)

Posted on Monday, March 22nd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Assembly, Attorney General, campaign finance, Gavin Newsom, Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris, Lt. Governor | No Comments »

Now we’ll hear about it for the next eight months

The House has passed the Senate’s $940 billion health reform bill on a 219-212 vote, and the news releases are flying hot and heavy, as they surely will continue to do on this issue from now through November’s midterm Congressional elections.

From Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton:

Jerry McNerney“For nine months, I’ve been listening to our community’s thoughts and ideas on health care reform. I’ve held public events that hundreds of people have attended and have met with seniors, patients, veterans, small business owners, doctors, and nurses. Thousands of people have also emailed, written letters, and called my office.

“I’ve heard from people denied health coverage for preexisting conditions like diabetes and allergies. I’ve met seniors who can’t afford the monthly cost of prescription drugs. I’ve talked with small businesses owners who have been forced to lay off employees because of skyrocketing premiums. I’ve heard many heartbreaking stories about the struggle so many Americans face right now to afford health care.

“I’ve carefully reviewed the proposal, read every page, and listened to all the input that the people I represent have offered. Throughout this process, I’ve stood up for reform that will lower costs, give families security and peace-of-mind, and make sure people can choose their doctor and care.

“Today, we took a critical step towards making health care more affordable for American families and helping to guarantee our nation’s long-term economic prosperity. Reforming health care is a fiscally responsible course of action that will build on the best of the American system by making sure people can keep their current insurance if they like it and choose what doctors they want see.

“Reform will reduce the growth of health care costs by creating fair, transparent and competitive health insurance markets and cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse. It will improve benefits for seniors, help small businesses to stay open, and stop insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions or kicking sick people off their plans.”

From Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele:

michael_steele“Californians have plenty of reason to be disappointed today, as Representative McNerney chose to continue siding with the liberal leaders in Washington and support this government takeover of health care. Rep. McNerney should be ashamed to have been part of this partisan trickery and underhanded tactics used to ram this bill through Congress. And even more so, he should be ashamed to have supported a bill that will force already struggling Californians to face a future of higher taxes, increased premiums and Medicare cuts.

“Americans across the country have made their voices heard and flatly reject this legislation loaded with special deals and tax increases, but Rep. McNerney did not listen to them and instead chose to force this bill through by any means necessary. Rep. McNerney can be sure that voters in his district will not forget this vote that will negatively affect Americans for generations to come, and this November they will be sure to send him packing.”

Many more voices, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Sunday, March 21st, 2010
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Carly Fiorina, Chuck DeVore, congressional district 11, George Miller, Jerry McNerney, Pete Stark, Tom Campbell, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 9 Comments »