Barbara Lee becomes Sudan Caucus co-chair

Rep. Barbara Lee is the newest of four co-chairs of the Congressional Sudan Caucus, which is still trying to draw more attention to the ongoing humanitarian disaster in that African nation.

Lee, D-Oakland, succeeds the late Rep. Donald Payne, D-N.J., as a co-chair; the other three co-chairs are Michael Capuano, D-Mass., Frank Wolf, R-Va., and Michael McCaul, R-Tex. The caucus was founded in 2005.

In her news release Tuesday, Lee noted ongoing strife in the Sudanese border areas of South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Abyei, and Darfur, and in Yida and other refugee camps in South Sudan. Civilians are subject to the Sudanese government’s indiscriminate bombing and denial of humanitarian aid, leaving nearly half a million at risk of starvation.

Lee said she’ll work with the other co-chairs “to bring Khartoum, Juba, and all stakeholders together to ensure that peace prevails in the region. At this critical time with Sudan and South Sudan on the brink of war, it is critical that Congress and the United States use all tools at its disposal to bring the two sides to the negotiating table for peace talks.”

Lee will take part in a subcommittee hearing on Sudan this Thursday and will host U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice for a special briefing with members of Congress on international efforts to reach a peaceful resolution.

Lee has been active on the issue for some time, sponsoring legislation recognizing acts of genocide in the region and urging China as well as the Arab League to step up efforts to stop the genocide in Darfur. Her bill to allow divestment from companies doing business in the region was enacted into law in 2007.


Ro Khanna helping to raise funds for Pete Stark

Ro Khanna – the former Obama Administration official who raised an eye-popping $1.2 million in 2011’s final quarter but vowed not to run against Rep. Pete Stark – is co-hosting a big fundraiser next week for Stark.

Khanna, of Fremont, along with Hayward Mayor Mike Sweeney and the International Association of Firefighters’ FirePAC, are holding the event next Monday evening, April 30, in the Hayward Firefighters Hall. Tickets range from $100 to $2,500.

The list of co-hosts indicates Khanna is leveraging his deep connections in the Indo-American community on Stark’s behalf, though some of these names have been avowed Stark supporters for some time: Rahul Roy, Dr. Romesh Japra, Yogi Chugh, Mike Nevens, Mahesh Pakala, Anil Yadav, Joe Johal, Dr. Raj Salwan, Inder Dosanjh, and Sunny Ghai.

Khanna has held to his contention that he wants Stark’s 15th Congressional District seat, but only when Stark, D-Fremont, chooses to retire from it. Of course, that plan requires Stark to hold on to that seat this year against two challengers who aren’t willing to wait for him to give it up.

Stark already has the clear money edge, though his numbers for the first three months of 2012 were a bit lackluster. He raised $60,255 and spent $90,299 in the first quarter, but had $551,341.79 cash on hand with no outstanding debts as of March 31.

Dublin City Councilman and Alameda County prosecutor Eric Swalwell, also a Democrat, raised $100,930.24 and spent $96,592.16 in the first quarter, and had $93,311.05 cash on hand with $8,572.50 in outstanding debts as of March 31. Hayward businessman Chris Pareja, a Tea Party conservative independent candidate, raised $12,572 and spent $12,680.79 in the first quarter, and had $64.81 cash on hand with no outstanding debts as of March 31.


CoCo supervisor forum to air May 7 and 9

An election forum featuring two candidates for Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors will air on public access television on May 7 and May 9.

The Contra Costa Council sponsored the lunchtime debate with candidates Tomi Van de Brooke, president of the Contra Costa Community College District Board of Trustees, and Danville Mayor Candace Andersen.

The pair answered questions earlier today in Lafayette about a wide range of topics including pension reform, water policy, tax initiatives and county budget trade-offs. And they sparred over campaign finances and whether positions on social issues matter in the local, nonpartisan race.

The third candidate, solar technology professor Sean White of Lafayette, was out of town on business and could not attend.

Held in Lafayette, the debate will air at 8 p.m. on May 7 and 10 a.m. on May 9 on Contra Costa Television. For Comcast customers, CCTV is on Channel 27; Astound, Channel 32; and AT&T U-verse, Channel 99.

For information, visit www.contracostatv.org.




Political analyst Gerston to speak in Lafayette

Political analyst and oft-quoted California expert Larry Gerston is the featured speaker at the May 2 meeting of the Commonwealth Club in Lafayette.

Gerston, a political-science professor at San Jose State University, is the author of “Not So Golden After All: The Rise and Fall of California.”

He will “take us step-by step through the economic, cultural and political factors contributing to California’s upsurge and historic fall from grace,” wrote the Commonwealth Club in a prepared release.

The event begins at 5:45 p.m. with registration followed by the program at 6:30 p.m.

It will be held at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center, at 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd.

Tickets cost $22 for the general public or $12 for Commonwealth Club members. Students are free with valid student identification.

For more information, visit http://www.commonwealthclub.org/events/2012-05-02/larry-gerston-california-not-so-golden-state.



GOP candidates’ program rolls out its board

California Trailblazers, a program to recruit and support Republican candidates for the state Legislature, announced its board of directors today.

“Just as we did with our Young Guns program, California Trailblazers will train candidates to become stronger candidates ready to bring fiscal discipline and government accountability back to Sacramento,” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, who launched the program with the Legislature’s GOP leaders, said in a news release. “Along with leaders (Connie) Conway and (Bob) Huff, our Board of Directors will ensure that the most qualified Republican candidates work their way through the program so they are ready to win in November and lead on day one.”

The program is modeled on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program, also co-founded by McCarthy, which recruits and supports House candidates across the nation. As candidates meet metrics specifically designed for their race, they will advance to “Pathfinder,” “Rising Star,” and ultimately “Trailblazer.” These goals will focus on campaign infrastructure, grassroots support, fundraising, and more. The program also will provide training for candidates to learn campaign fundamentals.

Kate Gregg LarkinCalifornia Trailblazers’ chairwoman will be Kate Gregg Larkin, 31, of Manhattan Beach, an attorney and the executive director of LA Loves You, a nonprofit focused on engaging young professionals in charitable giving. Larkin earlier helped launch Share Magnet, a Los Angeles-based social marketing company; before that, she spent five years on Capitol Hill working for the House Committee on Government Reform, Rep. Tim Davis, R-Va., and Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Tex. She also has experience as a political fundraiser in House races. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a law degree from UCLA.

The program’s chief financial officer will be Russ Johnson, 62, of Santa rosa, a partner with Menlo Park-based KPLJ Ventures, a private venture investment fund primarily focused on companies involved in optical and wireless communications. Johnson from 1998 to 2000 was senior vice president of global sales and marketing for JDS Uniphase; earlier, he worked for the Hewlett Packard Company (now Agilent Technologies) for more than 20 years in various marketing, operational, and international business roles. In 1986, he was the founding manager of the HP Asia Pacific Marketing Center in Hong Kong. Johnson was a Bush Team 100 member and serves on the Lincoln Club of Northern California Board of Directors. Johnson has a BSEE from New Mexico State University and an MBA from Purdue University.

Jeff Randle, 49, of Sacramento – who last week was named the Romney presidential campaign’s senior advisor for California – will serve as a California Trailblazers board member. He is president and CEO of Randle Communications, ranked by the Sacramento Business Journal as Sacramento’s fourth-largest public relations and public affairs firm. Randle was a senior advisor to Meg Whitman’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign, political advisor to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger from 2002 to 2006, and deputy chief of staff to Governor Pete Wilson from 1991 to 1998. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA.

California Trailblazers’ secretary will be Christopher Wysocki, 42, of Penryn, who is political director for the Legislature’s Republican Caucus. Wysocki earlier served as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Senate Republican Caucus, Director of Member Services for the California Assembly Republican Caucus and Deputy Chief of Staff and Political Director for Assembly Republican Leaders Jim Brulte in 1994 and Bill Leonard in 1998. Earlier still, he was a partner in a Sacramento political consulting firm and President of a national small business advocacy organization. Wysocki holds a political science degree from UCLA.


Big Tobacco pouring in the cash in No on 29 campaign

An early March story in the Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal reported that fund-raising among tobacco companies had been surpisingly slow for its No on Proposition 29 campaign.

Back then, Californians Against Out-of-Control Taxes and Spending, bankrolled by Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds, had reported “only” $2.6 million in spending with little sign of a big run-up to the June campaign.

The initiative, the California Cancer Research Act, would more than double California’s 87 cent excise tax on tobacco by $1 per pack.

Never fear. Tobacco companies weren’t going to let this one slip by. By the time the April 17 campaign finance reports came out, Big Tobacco had raised $12 million, spent $7.9 million and had $4.53 million cash on hand.

Those reports included all cash raised as of March 17.

In the month since, the two giant tobacco companies and their affiliates have poured in another $8.9 million.

They still have a lot of work left before matching their nearly $70 million campaign of 2006, especially with less than two months to go before the June 5 election.