Alameda County GOP spat hits Court of Appeal

Members of the Alameda County Republican Central Committee will be arguing against each other this afternoon in the First District California Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

County committee member and former chairman Paul Cummings Jr. of Oakland is appealing an Alameda County Superior Court judge’s decision to throw out his case contesting the election of several other county committee members in June 2008.

Cummings has claimed committee vice chairman Walter Stanley III of Livermore and six other “Constitutional Republicans” were ineligible for election to the committee because they hadn’t been affiliated with the Republican Party for at least three months before their candidacy filing dates, and/or because they’d belonged to other parties within a year before filing, in violation of the state Elections Code.

But that’s not actually what this appeal is about. The Superior Court judge tossed the case, ruling Cummings hadn’t filed it within the five-day period required after a primary election; Cummings argues that this wasn’t a primary, as there’s only one election for party committee posts, and wants the appeals court to reinstate the case and order the county court to review it on its merits. The California Republican Party has filed an amicus brief on Cummings’ behalf.

Besides Stanley, the other defendants in this case are committee members Casey Fargo and his wife Lea Smart of Livermore; David Latour of Hayward; Deslar Patten of Hayward; Christopher Kuhn of Hayward; and John Bartlett of Livermore. All of seven are affiliated with the Republican Liberty Caucus, a libertarian-leaning group often associated with former presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas. Fargo also is a former president of the Golden Gate Minutemen, an anti-illegal-immigration activist group, and Latour is a former president of the Castro Valley Minutemen.

Stanley et al – represented by attorney and fellow GOP committee member Jerry Salcido, who just a few weeks ago was elected the committee’s chairman – argue not only that it was a primary and Cummings sued too late, but also that the courts don’t have jurisdiction to police party committee elections.

I’ll be watching for the appellate court’s ruling over the next few months, and will report it here.

(UPDATE @ 10:10 A.M. WEDNESDAY 9/9: Cummings wins this round.)

To put this battle in context, 15.13 percent of Alameda County’s registered voters were Republicans as of May 4, while 57.82 percent were Democrats and 22.48 percent declined to state a party affiliation. The county GOP’s registration has slid by almost four percentage points over the past five years (data after the jump).

Continue Reading


Vorderblog: CC supes race attracts $1 million-plus

Can you believe Contra Costa County still collects campaign finance reports on paper? Geeminy.

But I spent a good part of the day going through them and learned that the candidates for Contra Costa County supervisor in June and the outside groups that sought to influence the outcome spent more than $1 million.

Check out my column on Sunday for the full details of which candidate spent the most and had the most spent to oppose his candidacy. (Hint: It’s the same guy.)

Here’s my video for the today on the subject:


Record percentage of voters choose mail in June

The pitiful turnout in the California June primary election produced at least one notable statistic: The highest percentage of voters on record cast their ballots by mail rather than at the polls.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified the election results and reported a 58.7 percent vote-by-mail rate, which topped the previous record of 46.9 percent in June 2006.

The growing numbers of voters who cast their ballots through the mail is raising questions about the increasing cost of funding two elections, one at the polls and one through the mail. It is also dramatically changing campaign dynamics as candidates must find ways to put out their messages to a bifurcated audience.

Here’s Bowen press release: Continue Reading


I’m back … 1,500 emails later

Vacation is fabulous but there’s a price for everything. In my case, it was 1,500 emails in my basket upon my return this morning after two weeks’ absence.

The email system administrator advised me mid-day Sunday that I was out of space and threatened to reject incoming messages. Yeah, like that happened!

I’m slowly wading through the mail and I am working on several updates for the blog for later today.

Many thanks to the folks who let me know in my absence about the tragic death of Erik Nunn, Contra Costa supervisor candidate, in an airplane crash near Las Vegas. I learned of the horrific accident after I picked up a copy of the San Francisco Chronicle at the KOA campground store at Lake Trinity. (Unfortunately or fortunately, I had no cell service in the campground and couldn’t access my phone messages. And my computer password at the Times had expired and I couldn’t read my e-mails, either.)

Erik’s photo was on the Chronicle’s front page and I initially thought it was a campaign story. I had to read it several times and even then, it didn’t sink in until I returned home and read the accounts of the memorial services.

Erik and I had our differences on the campaign trail — I had criticized him for a campaign mailer he sent out — but I am truly saddened by his death, the loss of his wife and his two friends. I cannot even imagine the inconceivable grief their seven orphaned children must be feeling.

I encourage everyone to make a contribution to the accounts set up at the Bank of the West for the benefit of the children of Erik and Tanya Nunn and Craig and Michele Wilson. Anyone wishing to make a donation may do so at any Bank of the West branch: Nunn Children Trust Fund, Bank of the West Account No. 105156251, or Wilson Children Trust Fund, Bank of the West Account No. 105156269.



AD 15 GOP seat narrows to 257-vote lead

San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson’s lead over retired Livermore businessman Robert Rao appears to be holding although it had narrowed to 257 votes today as county election offices complete their counts of mail-in and provisional ballots. (Click here to see the Secretary of State’s latest results page, which matched the results of all the county web sites as of today.)

If Wilson prevails, he will owe his win to Contra Costa County, where his superior name identification over his nearly unknown challengers won him 9,832 votes. He tied for last place in Alameda County, finished third and fourth in San Joaquin and Sacramento counties respectively.

Wilson will need more than geography to help him on Nov. 4. His Democratic challenger is also a San Ramon valley resident with a high level of name identification, San Ramon School Board Trustee Joan Buchanan.


Wilson leads by 411 votes … maybe

A reader pointed out to me this morning that if you add up the votes for the Republican candidates in Assembly District 15 from the election web sites of each of the four counties in the district, San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson is leading by a considerably larger margin than what appears on the Secretary of State’s results page.

(I scared this reader; she’s a Wilson fan.)

In the compilation of the individual county results, Wilson leads over retired Livermore businessman Robert Rao by 411 votes rather than 134, as the state site shows.

It appears that the counties are updating their own web sites with provisional and mail-in ballot results sooner than they send updates to the Secretary of State. The counties have 30 days from Election Day to submit the final results to the state, and the numbers do shift around as election staffers finish up with the remaining ballots. We’ll have to wait and see how the final numbers turn out.

A lead of 400-plus votes this late in the count appears insurmountable for Rao, but it was an exhilarating idea for a few days. Reporters love surprises!

Here are the totals as I compiled them at 11 a.m. today from each of county’s web sites:

Abram Wilson: 11,207 votes, 30.5 percent

Robert Rao: 10,796 votes, 29.4 percent

Judy Lloyd: 8,409 votes, 22.9 percent

Scott Kamena: 6,278 votes, 17.1 percent

If you feel inclined to check up on the numbers yourself, here are the links to each of the county’s election results web pages:

Click here for Alameda County results page.

Click here for San Joaquin County results page.

Click here for Contra Costa County results page.

Click here for Sacramento County results page.