Meg Whitman rallies her troops in Burbank

Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman made what she said was her 63rd campaign visit to Los Angeles County on Sunday with a get-out-the-vote rally at the Burbank Marriott. Several hundred local supporters packed into the hotel’s conference center for a glimpse of the candidate, who bounded onto the stage after a live band and several other GOP ticket members had warmed up the crowd.

Meg Whitman in Burbank 10-31-2010 -- photo by Josh Richman“So, just a couple of days out until Nov. 2, and you know what? We’re going to win this!” she said with unusual intensity, adding internal polls and some public polls show the race for the governor’s office in a dead heat.

“I like to think of this as two more days before a lot of really good things start happening,” Whitman said, vowing to pursue job creation and – in a nod to the Burbank area’s major industry – a focus on not losing a single entertainment job.

She said she’s “a proven job creator” as opposed to “my opponent, who has been a part of the war on jobs in Sacramento for 40 years.”

Whitman said former Gov. Gray Davis, who earlier was chief of staff to Jerry Brown while he was governor, recently said Brown will probably try to raise taxes to balance the budget – something she again vowed never to do. And, she said, there are rumors circulating that Brown would pick Davis to head his transition team; this brought a chorus of boos from the audience.

Whitman said she wants to turn around K-12 education. “It is not OK that so many of our kids are in failing schools” with high dropout rates, she said, adding that her goal is to restore California to its place at the top of the nation’s school systems.

Brown “has no prayer of ever fixing the school system” because he’s supported by California Teachers Association bosses, she said, promising to take those union bosses on and put more money into classrooms to support good teachers.

“We have a chance to make history here, don’t we?” she said, a chance to “start the process of real change to take back this state for our children and our grandchildren.”

And, she added, a chance to elect California’s first woman governor.

“Who has the power in this election? You do. The people of the state of California are going to decide this,” Whitman said, calling Tuesday’s vote “a battle for the soul of California.”

“Our problems are tough, aren’t they? But so am I.”

Whitman was accompanied to the Burbank rally by Mike Villines, the Republican nominee for insurance commissioner; Mimi Walters, the Republican nominee for state treasurer; and Tony Strickland, the Republican nominee for state controller. Assemblywoman Audra Strickland, R-Thousand Oaks, served as emcee.

From Burbank, Whitman was headed to the Santa Barbara area for a “Halloween-themed” campaign event at the home of Tom Deardorff, president of Deardorff Family Farms. On Monday, she’ll be in Menlo Park, Woodland Hills, Orange County and San Diego.

Queen Meg in Burbank 10-31-2010 -- photo by Josh RichmanShe may be campaigning right up until the polls close on Tuesday, but for “Queen Meg” – the mocking, matronly monarch created by the California Nurses Association to stalk the candidate – today was the swan song.

A CNA contingent led by the tiara-topped royal made a brief appearance outside the Burbank Marriott, where Whitman supporters were lining up for a rally with the candidate. Waving union signs, they chanted, “Hey Meg Whitman, get out of our town, so much money and you’re still 10 points down” as the bogus candidate yelled about being beset by the riff-raff and so on.

Another person in a skeleton cavorted around Queen Meg – a skeleton from her closet, as it were; Queen Meg demanded its deportation.

CNA has mounted the Queen Meg campaign to underscore its contention that Whitman’s policies would disproportionately harm California’s women and children – particularly her plan to eliminate the state’s capital gains tax, a $5 billion hit to the state’s revenue that the union says would come out of education and health-care funding.


Jerry Brown hits the road for final campaign blitz

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown started his three-day, 12-city “Let’s Get California Working Again Tour” early this morning by rallying about 100 supporters in his campaign headquarters, located in a building he owns in the bustling loft district near Oakland’s Jack London Square.

Jerry Brown 10-30-10 -- photo by Josh RichmanBrown said he bought the building in the early 1990s, and later built the loft/work building around the corner in which he lived for some years. Other local property owners dissuaded him from putting an extra story on that building, saying the area couldn’t support the density and traffic; today, new residential loft buildings tower over Brown’s.

“It taught me that sometimes you’ve got to listen, but sometimes you’ve got to roll over the opposition,” he said, and that’s the philosophy he would take to Sacramento to create jobs in any way possible.

He also cited Oakland’s Fox Theater – a circa-1928 movie house that was refurbished and reopened last year as a live entertainment venue, in which he’ll hold his Election Night party – as an example of respecting tradition while looking to the future, “a continuous flowering of what was, what is and what will be.”

“I don’t want things to be too new, because I’ve been around for a while,” he quipped.

Brown reiterated his campaign stump message that California still has tough times ahead and will require tough decisions that makes it live within its means, but said the Golden State has the people and resources to make it work. He said the energy at this early-morning rally, at which many supporters (and reporters) arrived before dawn, felt like “a renewal of faith and enthusiasm, and that’s what we’re going to need going forward.”

“I don’t like to say the same-old, same-old, that’s why I’m always getting off script,” he said. “For me, life is a continuing discovery and a creation.”

Jerry Brown(2) 10-30-10 -- photo by Josh RichmanBound for Stockton, Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield later Saturday, and then for Eureka, Chico, Sacramento and Riverside on Sunday, Brown said he intends to “speak the truth, tell it like it is, straight talk” with “optimism … but a sober assessment of what’s ahead.”

Brown was introduced at Saturday morning’s rally by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, who called him “a visionary.”

Earlier, Lee had told reporters that “Californians get it, they understand that we here in California lead in every area in terms of our country” and “want to cast their vote on behalf of the future rather than for the failed policies of the past … They do not want any corporate takeover of California.”

“Money should not be the driving force” in a democratic government, she said. “Elections cannot be bought.”

As for whether Democrats will retain control of the House of Representatives, Lee said, “the American people understand what’s at stake” and now it’s just a matter of turning out enough first-time, young and minority voters. “I’m not willing to accept anything yet, we’re still working hard to get every voter to the polls.”


CD11: Get ready for some politics

The weekend blitz is about to begin in the 11th Congressional District as the forces of Democratic incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney and GOP nominee David Harmer converge on the district.

This is one of 50 or more congressional seats in the country that could flip parties and put the GOP in charge of the House of Representatives, and both sides can taste victory.

Your doorbell may ring. Your mailbox will fill up. Your doorknob may be festooned. A candidate or his proxy may show up at your house. And your radio and TV stations will blare with the latest advertising, much of it featuring wildly distorted and unreliable information.

California unions are gearing up for major precinct work this weekend as they push to get Democrats to the polls in support of their candidates from the top of the ticket on down to the local races.

Outside groups are still spending big in the 11th District, too. By far, the largest cash infusion is into the anti-Harmer campaign. Here’s how it broke down as of this afternoon:

  • Oppose Harmer: $1.3 million
  • Support Harmer: $66,905
  • Oppose McNerney: $458,910
  • Support McNerney: $140,899

Here’s a list of the organizations, the political leanings and what they have spent:

  • Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, liberal: $1,031,191
  • National Republican Congressional Committee, conservative: $357,842
  • American Federation Of State County And Municipal Employees AFL-CIO, liberal: $149,999
  • America’s Families First Action Fund 149,999
  • Club For Growth Action, conservative: $65,224
  • Defenders Of Wildlife Action Fund, liberal: $58,492
  • Planned Parenthood Advocates Mar Monte, liberal: $47,911
  • National Rifle Association Of America Political Victory Fund, conservative: $47,577
  • Americans For Limited Government, conservative: $27,470
  • America Votes, conservative: $26,822
  • League Of Conservation Voters, Inc., liberal: $24,759
  • Republican Majority Campaign, conservative: $10,773
  • Humane Society Legislative Fund, liberal: $9,736
  • Susan B Anthony List Inc., conservative anti-abortion group: $5,924
  • National Right To Life Political Action Committee, conservative: $5,372
  • Freedomworks Inc. Political Action Committee, conservative: $3,107
  • Revere America, conservative: $2,526

If you want to check the FEC independent expenditures over the weekend, visit this web site, click on “customize” and enter the candidate’s name.


CD11: Friday jib-jab madness





As the Congressional District 11 candidates launch themselves into the final weekend before Election Day, the spin cycle spit out a few interesting jib-jabs.

HYPOCRISY, ANYONE? The campaign of Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney blasted a press release about how GOP nominee David Harmer received a $5,000 contribution from JP Morgan Chase PAC on Oct. 22.

And then the Dems continued to beat the false drum about how Harmer took federal bailout money from JP Morgan Chase.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It’s nonsense. Harmer was an attorney in the credit card division in Pleasanton when JP Morgan Chase bought his employer, Washington Mutual.

WaMu went broke because it made bad home loans; it had nothing to do with the credit card division.  Four months later, Harmer was laid off along with everyone else in WaMu’s old credit card division. He received a severance package and a performance bonus worth about $160,000; he worked for JP Morgan Chase about four months.

There is no evidence that JP Morgan Chase needed or used the $25 billion in federal bailout money it received to either buy Washington Mutual or pay Harmer’s package. JP Morgan was not in financial trouble but the federal government demanded the nation’s top dozen or so banks accept the money in order to maintain public confidence in the American banking system. JP Morgan paid back the full loan with interest on the first day it was allowed to do so.

Yes, as a Republican who wants to cut regulations, Harmer is far more likely to take positions and cast votes that will meet with the approval of the financial industry. If this concerns you, vote for McNerney.

But it’s a hit fraught with peril for McNerney, who recently told Harmer, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks.”

After all, the congressman voted for the bail-out and Opensecret.org shows that McNerney has accepted nearly $25,000 in contributions this campaign from investment and securities sources. Harmer’s campaign also says McNerney has accepted during his political career thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the employees, PACs and lobbyists of companies that have applied or or received federal earmarks at his request, according to their analysis of FEC reports.

McNerney has plenty of contributions on his list from which critics could make allegations of special interest influence.

“If my opponent wants to talk about contributions, he needs to apply the same standard to himself,” Harmer said.

SERIOUSLY? The Harmer camp put out an absurd press release today touting an audiotape in which McNerney praises GOP nemesis and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her persistence in pursuit of passage of the health care legislation at a time when President Barack Obama wanted to back off.

Here what “Jerry McNerney has to say about Pelosi when he thinks voters aren’t listening!” reads the release, complete with a link to a YouTube clip.

Oooh, a secret audio tape. How delicious. Unfortunately for the Harmer camp, the clip came from a Democratic Party lunch this summer where McNerney was a speaker. Gee, I guess no real voters show up at Democratic Party luncheons.

Yes, McNerney agrees with Pelosi on a lot of issues.  She is the Democratic House leader. He is a Democrat. If voters don’t like the Democrats’ platform, they can vote for Harmer. And there is no question that McNerney, along with most Democrats, is not squiring Pelosi around his district as a way to raise money or attract votes; she is a polarizing figure that most campaigns would rather avoid.

But the suggestion that McNerney is hiding his admiration for Pelosi or his support for her leadership is nonsense.

Here’s the clip if you want to hear what McNerney said.

DONOR OCCUPATION OF THE DAY: Dominic Scotto, owner of From The Heart Home Care, donated $1,000 to Harmer and for his occupation, he wrote, “Beleaguered Businessman.”