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Archive for April, 2012

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.

Posted on Monday, April 23rd, 2012
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Republican Party, Republican politics | 3 Comments »

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.

Posted on Friday, April 20th, 2012
Under: Uncategorized | 16 Comments »

Obama to raise funds next month in SF, LA

President Barack Obama will make another fundraising swing through California next month.

Obama for America sent out a fundraising email today offering contributors a chance to win entry to an event with the president in May at actor George Clooney’s Los Angeles home. Clooney is “saving seats for two grassroots supporters like you and their guests,” the email says. “It’s just not a chance most people get — well, ever.”

Various news outlets have reported the event is set for Thursday, May 10 and will be co-hosted by DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.

SFist reported last month that Obama will be joined by actresses Angela Bassett and Gwyneth Paltrow at a $35,800-a-plate fundraising dinner Wednesday, May 9 at an as-yet-undisclosed home in San Francisco.

The president raised funds in San Francisco in mid-February with an exclusive dinner at the home of novelist Robert Mailer Anderson and a larger rally-style event at the Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium. First Lady Michelle Obama headlined a fundraiser at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts just a few weeks ago, and also attended a Coast Guard vessel’s commissioning in Alameda.

Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama, campaign finance, Obama presidency | 2 Comments »

Romney names senior adviser for California

Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney’s campaign announced this afternoon that Jeff Randle of Sacramento will be its senior adviser in California.

“Jeff Randle is one of California’s most respected and accomplished political leaders, and his expertise is critical as we work to highlight Mitt Romney’s vision for the Golden State,” Romney for President Political Director Rich Beeson said in the news release. “Jeff has more than 25 years of experience running and winning statewide elections. His insight and savvy will be invaluable as we work to defeat President Obama, elect Mitt Romney and fundamentally change the direction of our country.”

Jeff RandleIn the same release, Randle said he’s “honored to be part of what is an incredibly organized, focused and determined campaign team.

“The team reflects Mitt Romney’s leadership and mirrors his focus on building a winning organization that is primed to win the general election,” he said. “Mitt Romney is the right leader at a critical time in American history. I look forward to working together with Mitt and the team to win in November and bring real change to our great nation.”

Randle, 49, president and CEO of Randle Communications, most recently was a senior adviser to Meg Whitman’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. Whitman early in her business career worked for Romney at Bain & Co., was a finance co-chair of Romney’s 2008 presidential primary bid, and co-hosted a Bay Area fundraiser for Romney last month.

Randle was Gov. Pete Wilson’s deputy chief of staff from 1991 to 1998 and was a member of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political team from before the 2003 gubernatorial recall election through Schwarzenegger’s 2006 re-election.

Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney | 2 Comments »

McNerney grills VA on Oakland office’s backlog

Rep. Jerry McNerney asked the Department of Veterans Affairs yesterday why Northern California veterans are getting the short end of the stick.

At a House Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, McNerney, D-Pleasanton, sought answers about a backlog of veterans’ benefits claims at the VA’s Oakland regional office, which serves all of Northern California. He and other California House members also have written today to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki about the VA’s recent decision to deny added support for that office.

“I’ve heard from too many veterans in our region about the enormous and frustrating delays in processing their benefits claims,” McNerney said in a news release this morning. “The VA has a responsibility to help our veterans in a timely and efficient manner. As it stands, the delays are unacceptable.”

At the hearing, McNerney demanded to know why the Oakland office’s performance is so poor and what the VA intends to do about it; the VA couldn’t provide a concrete plan beyond retraining all of the Oakland claims representatives this June.

McNerney notes that although California is home to the most veterans in the nation and the Oakland regional office is among the worst in the VA system at processing claims, the VA excluded the Oakland office from plans for a system that would help reduce the number of claims. The VA is implementing this plan in 12 other offices across the country.

“We have a responsibility to the men and women who have sacrificed so much to protect our country and way of life to provide benefits to them when they return home,” McNerney said. “The delays at the Oakland VA office must be addressed, and I call on the Obama administration to take steps to rectify the problem,” said Rep. McNerney.

McNerney is the only Bay Area member on the Veterans Affairs Committee, but other than House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the entire Bay Area delegation joined him in signing today’s letter to Shinseki. Follow after the jump for that letter’s full text…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, April 19th, 2012
Under: Jerry McNerney, U.S. House, veterans | 5 Comments »

Barbara Lee goes veggie; plans civil-rights events

Rep. Barbara Lee said today she’s going vegetarian for two weeks.

“This week, I’m excited to be participating Oakland Veg Week, a vegetarian pledge happening here in my district. I’m also pleased to join the national effort, Veg Week 2012, and continue with this pledge from April 23 to 29,” Lee, D-Oakland, said in a news release. “I am glad that my constituents in Oakland are taking the lead in promoting healthy and sustainable lifestyle choices, and hope others across the country will join me in this pledge.”

So we presume she’ll have a salad or some such thing if she takes Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., to lunch after joining him to address Emery High School students at 11:30 a.m. Friday at the Emery Theater on San Pablo Avenue in Emeryville. Lewis, a civil-rights icon, will be reminding the youths of the need for them to play an active role in shaping society and the importance of building a community focused on justice.

Lewis also will be the featured speaker at the final installment of the Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series at 7 p.m. this Saturday, April 21, in Beebe Memorial Cathedral, 3900 Telegraph Ave. in Oakland. Seating for this event is limited, and tickets are available by calling the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center at 510-434-3988 or D. R. Roberts Event Management at 510-654-5335.

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
Under: Barbara Lee, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Contra Costa supervisor candidate debate set for April 23

Contra Costa District 2 supervisor candidates Candace Andersen and Tomi Van de Brooke will face off at the April 23 lunch meeting of the Contra Costa Council.

Van de Brooke, an Orinda resident and elected member of the Contra Costa Community College District, and Andersen, mayor of Danville, will answer questions and discuss their platforms.

The third supervisor candidate, Sean White of Lafayette, is out of town and cannot attend.

The Contra Costa Council is a nonprofit membership and nonpartisan organization that advocates for economic development throughout the East Bay.

I am the moderator and the event is open to the public.

Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. followed by the program at noon. It will be held at the Lafayette Veterans Memorial Building, 3780 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette.

Tickets are $45 for non-members and $35 for members. For reservations, contact the Contra Costa Council at or 925-246-1880.


Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
Under: Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Political calendar, Political events | 1 Comment »

Gavin Newsom to host a Current TV talk show

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom starting next month will host a new weekly series on Current TV, the liberal news-and-policy channel cofounded and chaired by former Vice President Al Gore.

Gavin NewsomThe Gavin Newsom Show,” with hour-long episodes, “will have a decidedly California touch as Newsom interviews notables from Silicon Valley, Hollywood and beyond,” according to Current’s news release, and will be executive produced by Mia Haugen, a former executive at The Street, Forbes and CNN.

“Gavin Newsom is a courageous leader who has boldly seized every opportunity to create positive social change,” Gore said in the news release. “First as a successful entrepreneur, then in his role as mayor of San Francisco, and now as lieutenant governor, Newsom touches many worlds – business, politics, entertainment and activism. We are honored that Current TV will be bringing his curiosity, intelligence, insights and enthusiasm to television.”

Asked whether doing the show will in any way detract from the time and energy Newsom gives his official duties as lieutenant governor, spokesman Francisco Castillo replied, “Absolutely not.”

“The show will be taped once a week,” Castillo said. “The time and energy he gives to this show is no different than what he did for his weekly radio show as mayor — except now with a broader audience. It’s about showcasing California, which would only benefit the state.”

Other Current TV show hosts include former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
Under: Al Gore, Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor, Media | 5 Comments »

Stark jabs Romney with bill for welfare moms

Though embroiled in an ugly re-election campaign situation, Rep. Pete Stark remains a loyal fighter in the presidential campaign rhetoric wars.

Stark, D-Fremont, today announced he’s introducing the Women’s Option to Raise Kids (WORK) Act, which would amend the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families welfare program to recognize the job of raising children age three or younger as work; low-income parents would be able to work, receive job training, search for work or raise their children until they are school-aged without fear of losing TANF support.

Current law doesn’t count low-income stay-at-home parents who are raising young children as meeting the necessary TANF work requirement, and bans states from counting these individuals toward that state’s work participation rate, which can result in financial penalties if not met.

Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney’s campaign has been making hay of Obama advisor Hilary Rosen’s comment that the candidate’s wife, Ann Romney, stayed home to raise their five children and “never worked a day in her life” – mothering is work, the Romneys contend. However, MSNBC reported Sunday that Romney, during a campaign appearance in January in New Hampshire, touted his record as Massachusetts’ governor of increasing work requirements for welfare even for mothers of young children because he wanted them “to have the dignity of work.”

“Mitt Romney was for ObamaCare before he was against it. Then, he was for forcing low-income mothers into the workforce before he decided ‘all moms are working moms,’” Stark said in a news release. “I think we should take Mr. Romney at his most recent word and change our federal laws to recognize the importance and legitimacy of raising young children. That’s why I’ve introduced the WORK Act to provide low-income parents the option of staying home to raise young children without being pushed into poverty.”

The WORK Act’s 11 original cosponsors include Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma.

This isn’t Stark’s first jab at a GOP presidential candidate this year. In January, he introduced the Narrowing Exceptions for Withholding Taxes Act – yes, the NEWT Act – as a hit at Newt Gingrich. H.R. 3840 would close a loophole that lets certain self-employed people, including lobbyists, lower their Medicare payroll tax liability by calling their earnings profits or dividends rather than wages – as Gingrich did in his 2010 tax returns.

Like the NEWT Act, the WORK Act will go absolutely nowhere in the Republican-dominated House.

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
Under: 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

Watch Van de Brooke vs. Andersen ed board interview

Van de Brooke


The Contra Costa Times’ editorial board interview with Contra Costa County supervisor candidates Tomi Van De Brooke and Candace Andersen on Tuesday afternoon starts with fireworks over social issues. Read full story here.

But the candidates also speak at length about a wide range of policy matters closer to the work of a county supervisor, such as budget priorities, whether or not general fund dollars should subsidize the county hospital and pension reforms.

Watch video here:




Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2012
Under: 2012 primary election, Contra Costa Board of Supervisors, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »