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CD11: Amador leads in internal tracking poll

Amador

Amador

Financial underdog Tony Amador, a retired U.S. Marshal, is ahead of his nearest opponent by 12 percentage points, according to his campaign’s internal tracking poll.

Now, keep in mind, these numbers come with caveats. It is an internal poll, not an independent survey. And the campaign only released a small portion of the results, not the super-secret strategic stuff.

But if they are accurate, the results are a mismatch to the conventional wisdom, which puts the horse race between Dougherty Valley attorney David Harmer and Clements grapegrower Brad Goehring, with Danville businesswoman and autism activist Elizabeth Emken as a possible surprise. Harmer and Goehring have the most money, and Emken and Goehring have written big personal checks.

Nobody put Amador, a guy who retired after decades in government service and moved to Lodi last summer specifically to run for the post, in the top tier.

Amador’s campaign manager, John Feliz, says he gave me the results because the other campaigns either have or will do their own tracking surveys and find out anyway. And since the numbers are good for his candidate, why not share?

Feliz says he polled 900 registered voters in monthly starting in January about their preferences among the candidates.

Back in January, Harmer led the group with 16 percent followed by Goehring at 12 percent, Amador at 7.41 percent and Emken at 5.67 percent.

By April, Amador moved up to 23.7 percent, while the other three candidates all lost ground: Harmer dropped to 9.99 percent, Goehring, 11.62 percent, and Emken, 4.92 percent.

Feliz attributes the surge to Amador’s ballot designation of “U.S. Marshal,” plus his recent campaign activities, including mailers and teletown halls, and the endorsement of conservatives’ favorite, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Granite Bay.

By no means does this poll show that Amador will win.

Feliz also tells me that among Republican voters, nearly half remain undecided.

The other candidates will almost certainly step up their games as the June 8 election approaches, particularly after May 10 when registrars start shipping out vote-by-mail ballots.

As the candidates jockey for those votes, this race could get very spirited, starting tonight in Brentwood at a CD11 GOP primary candidates forum sponsored by the East Contra Costa TEA Party. It’s open to the public. The two-hour event starts at 6:30 p.m. at the East Bay Pentecostal Church, 605 Harvest Park Drive in Brentwood.

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Breaking down the Maldonado confirmation vote

The state Senate this afternoon voted 25-7 to confirm Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger’s nomination of state Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, as lieutenant governor; the governor will swear him into office tomorrow.

As I’d said Friday on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California,” don’t mistake this for an instance of politics being put aside. Democrats supported Maldonado only because they want him out of the Senate so they can try to win his 15th State Senate District seat, and only now because confirming him earlier wouldn’t have allowed the SD-15 special election to be consolidated with November’s general election, when Democrats believe heavier turnout will give them an advantage.

That’s what California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring alluded to in his statement today:

“On behalf of the California Republican Party, let me be the first to congratulate State Senator Abel Maldonado on his successful confirmation as Lieutenant Governor today. It’s gratifying that after five months, Sacramento Democrats could finally muster up the votes needed for a decision that should have taken them 10 minutes to confirm a clearly qualified candidate appointed by the Governor within his constitutional authority.

“Considering the legislature’s deadline for passing a state budget is less than 60 days from now, the California Republican Party hopes that Speaker Perez, Speaker Pro Tem Steinberg and the Democrat caucus are ready to stop wasting more time calculating what’s best for their party and start taking responsibility for finding fiscal solutions that don’t put more of a burden on California taxpayers.”

But five of the seven votes against confirmation today were from Republicans. The seven were:

  • Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, who’s also running in the GOP lieutenant governor primary in June;
  • Jeff Denham, R-Merced, who withdrew from the GOP lieutenant governor primary race soon after Schwarzenegger nominated Maldonado late last year;
  • Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego;
  • Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach;
  • George Runner, R-Antelope Valley;
  • Mark Wyland, R-Escondito; and
  • Leland Yee, D-San Francisco
  • (UPDATE @ 6:06 P.M.: It occurs to me that, for context’s sake, I should note that of the four Republicans besides Aanestad who opposed Maldonado’s confirmation, three might’ve had electoral motivations as well. Denham is running against Richard Pombo for the GOP nomination in the 19th Congressional District; Harman is running against Steve Cooley and John Eastman for the GOP nomination for Attorney General; and Runner is running against Barbara Alby, George Nakanishi and Edward Streichman in the GOP primary for the state Board of Equalization’s District 2 seat. Each would want to outflank his primary rivals on the right and so, one presumes, would be quick to criticize Maldonado’s past willingness to vote for tax hikes.)

    Also, neither Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto (who preceded current Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, in that leadership role) nor Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga (who will succeed Hollingsworth in that role) cast votes today, though they were reportedly present. So, not an awe-inspiring show of GOP support, all told.

    Last week’s Assembly vote, in the final reckoning, was 53-21. The only East Bay Assembly member voting in favor of confirmation was Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo. Voting against confirmation were Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley; Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda; Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch; and Alberto Torrico, D-Newark. The only Assembly Republican to vote against Maldonado’s confirmation was Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, who is currently a GOP U.S. Senate primary candidate.

    Maldonado issued a statement today:

    “I am humbled and honored to serve the people of California as their 47th Lieutenant Governor.

    “I’ve spent my career focused on what’s best for the people of this state – not political bosses or special interests – and I vow to continue my commitment to California’s people in this role.

    “As your Lieutenant Governor I will work hand and hand with the Governor as his promoter-in-chief of California to create and retain jobs while partnering with the education community to plan for our future workforce needs.

    “I will continue my work as a reformer while keeping an eye on government waste to ensure elected representatives are not abusing the trust of the people who put them in office.

    “The California dream is alive and well and it’s time for Sacramento to re-earn the trust of the people – I will be the people’s voice in the Capitol.”

    Replied Aanestad:

    “Today, the Governor and his politicians chose their Lt. Governor. This June, however, Republican voters will have their say.

    “Voters can either choose Abel Maldonado, who broke his promise to the voters by making a deal in exchange for his vote for the largest tax hike in California history; or they can choose Sam Aanestad, who is endorsed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Congressman Tom McClintock because he has kept his promise to not raise taxes.

    “The choice is up to the people, not the politicians.”

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    Chuck DeVore rolls out billboard campaign

    Republican U.S. Senate primary candidate Chuck DeVore today announced a new media effort.

    Well, not “new media” as in digital, online, cutting-edge. In that sense, it’s decidedly old-school: a statewide billboard campaign that started its run today at locations in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties as well as along the Central Valley’s Highway 99 corridor.

    But if you want to see one yourself, you’ll have to truck out to Atwater – that’s the closest one to the Bay Area. I asked DeVore campaign spokesman Joshua Trevino where the love was for our region, and he quickly replied, “Isn’t everyone in the Bay Area already sold on Chuck?”

    Anyhow, the campaign says the billboards were the brainchild of two of DeVore’s conservative Hollywood supporters, with DeVore’s 18-year-old daughter completing the layout and artwork.

    DeVore billboard

    You won’t see too many U.S. Senate candidates having their teenage daughters design their billboards, but DeVore needs to be economical. He reported $625,958 in contributions in the first quarter of this year, with about $411,802 cash on hand as of March 31. In contrast, GOP primary frontrunner Tom Campbell reported $1.66 million raised in the first quarter with $1.1 million cash on hand at the end of last month, and primary rival Carly Fiorina – who earlier had put $2.5 millon of her own money into her campaign – reported $1.7 million raised in the first quarter, with $2.8 million cash on hand at last month’s end.

    DeVore supporter Stephen K. Bannon, producer/writer/director of “Generation Zero,” said in a news release that the concept “of placing Chuck Devore in front of the Constitution was a natural. Chuck’s entire career has been about service to country and defense of our basic freedoms. Chuck Devore’s public life is inextricably linked to his defense of our Constitution. We are glad to represent a growing section of the creative community that actively supports Chuck Devore’s candidacy for the Republican nomination for United States Senate.”

    “Our object is to retire Senator Boxer. We know what a tough campaigner she is, so we set out from the start to innovate, to blaze a new path to victory,” DeVore said in his release. “Our campaign has won awards for innovation in social networking and for the first-ever statewide candidate iPhone app. This stunning billboard image is a continuation of that effort.”

    Trevino said the campaign will “closely measure the initial response and, pending results, we’ll expand our billboard buy significantly.”

    DeVore has been making some progress but still trails his GOP primary rivals – and Boxer, in a hypothetical general-election matchup – in all recent polls.

    UPDATE @ 1:41 P.M.: Trevino just called to say the campaign has bought two billboards to catch motorists going either direction on the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge.

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    Maldonado, crime lab, Salinas gangs on ‘TWINC’

    I was on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California” last night to talk about the politics behind state Sen. Abel Maldonado’s confirmation as lieutenant governor, as well as the latest poll numbers in a few hot primary contests. The panel also featured the Chronicle’s Rachel Gordon on the San Francisco crime lab scandal, and the Monterey Herald’s Julia Reynolds on this week’s big gang sweep in Salinas.

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    Meg Whitman infomercial to air tomorrow

    Remember that “town-hall meeting” that Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Meg Whitman held last month Orange County? Y’know, the private, ticket-holders-only event at which she’d asked the audience off-camera for “lots of cheering,” and some of the pre-screened questioners were made to re-ask their questions so she could have another go at answering them? Yeah, that one.

    Well, now you can see the fruit of her infomercial labors. The half-hour “Ask Meg” TV Town Hall will air tomorrow, Sunday, April 25 in the Bay Area, from 9 to 9:30 a.m. on KPIX Channel 5 and from 10 to 10:30 a.m. on KICU Channel 36.

    Whitman campaign manager Jillian Hasner said in a news release that the ad is “part of Meg Whitman’s goal to make sure all Californians can learn about her plan for fixing the state’s problems before they go to the polls. Meg believes all of the candidates for Governor should talk about their specific plans so voters can make the most informed decision on Election Day about who will be best to lead our state.”

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    Whitman to raise money tonight in Bay Area

    It’ll be a GOP all-star bash tonight as Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Meg Whitman’s campaign holds a fundraiser at the Sofitel Hotel in Redwood City. On the headliners list: former Massachusetts governor and 2008 Republican presidential primary candidate Mitt Romney; 2008 Republican presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; and former Secretary of State George Shultz.

    What an interesting bunch of people with whom to talk, n’est pas? Mais non! “Tonight’s event will be open to the press but there will be no availability for interviews,” sayeth the campaign.