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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).

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2009
Under: 2008 June primary, Alameda County, General, Republican Party, Republican politics | 6 Comments »

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:

Posted on Thursday, August 7th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Vorderblog | No Comments »

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: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, July 14th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Election 2008, Election reform | 4 Comments »

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.


Posted on Monday, July 7th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, 2008 November election, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

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.

Posted on Monday, June 16th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »

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.

Posted on Tuesday, June 10th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary | No Comments »

Murdered Pleasanton man wins GOP central committee seat

Ernie Scherer of Pleasanton, who was found brutally murdered with his wife on March 14 in their home, has been elected posthumously to the Alameda County Republican Central Committee.

Scherer had received 4,758 votes as of Monday’s tally at the Alameda County election web site.

Voters were to choose six people among nine candidates and Scherer came in third place behind David Latour and Douglas Miller.

The Central Committee must now vote to appoint someone to fill the vacancy.

In order of votes, the other candidates were: Brian Eschen, Deslar Patten, Christopher Kuhn, Daniel Byards, Andrew Latour and Gregg Byars.

The police still have no arrested any suspects in the Scherer murder case, according to a recent story in the Contra Costa Times.

Posted on Monday, June 9th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Alameda County, Republican politics | No Comments »

East Bay unveils map-based election results

We were all preoccupied with the numbers on Election Night.

But on Tuesday, the Alameda County and Contra Costa County election departments also quietly unrolled a new feature on their voting results web pages: Mapped election results by precinct.They did it so quietly, in fact, that they didn’t tell anybody. They wanted to work out the kinks before the big whopper of an election coming in November.

It’s a pretty cool idea.

You can click on a race, then on the map and see how the results look visually throughout the county for a particular candidate or ballot measure. Election officials have combined digitized precinct maps and voting results with now commonly available geographic information system software. (Heck, it’s so easy that I have it here at the paper; it’s called ArcView.)

Alameda County’s map page was hard to find: You had to click on a box in the upper right-hand side of the page called “precinct maps.”

Not everyone knows what a precinct map is. (See explanation below.) Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 9th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Election reform | No Comments »

Wilson’s lead narrows to 135 votes: Could it flip?

UPDATE 6/10/08: As of 7 a.m., Abram’s lead dropped by one more vote to 134 on the Secretary of State’s web page. But one of my readers added up the totals on each of the four counties in Assembly District 15 and found that Abram had a bigger lead. Hmm. I’ll have to check that out. Lisa

As of 10 a.m., San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson’s lead over Livermore retired businessman Robert Rao in the sharply contested Assembly District 15 GOP primary race had narrowed to 135 votes. (Wilson is pictured to the right, Rao on bottom right.)

On Friday, it was about 450 votes.

Click here to read the latest results on the Secretary of State’s web site.

Could Rao win this thing?

It’s happened elsewhere. Close races can flip in the final days as the clerks add the provisional and mail-in ballots to the tally, although the 450-vote gap was viewed by almost everyone as too large for Rao to overcome.

Rao has closed his campaign office and Wilson is planning his general election strategy against Democratic nominee Joan Buchanan.

But if the numbers remain really close or they flip, either Rao or Wilson could ask for a recount although it’s not free. The candidate has to pay for the cost.

We won’t know the final outcome for a few days yet. All four counties in this district still have provisional and mail-in ballots to count although the stacks are dwindling. The counties have 30 days to issue their final election results.

Posted on Monday, June 9th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, California Legislature, Contra Costa County | No Comments »

Political central committees pick new faces

The elected central committees of Contra Costa County’s two major political parties will see some new and familiar faces after Tuesday’s election. (UPDATE: 6/6/08 10:04 a.m. See correction below on Republican District 3, where I incorrectly stated that six people won seats. It was eight. Thanks, Joe Rubay., for catching that mistake.)

In the Democratic Central Committee, potential rivals for the group’s leadership position, Brian Lawrence and Chuck Carpenter, appear to have both won their elections.

But Republicans failed to re-elect Greg Poulos, their new chairman. Poulos recently took on the job after Tom Del Beccaro resigned in order to devote more time to his work as the state party vice chairman. Treasurer Darcy Linn also lost her seat.

There are some mail-in and provisional ballots left to count and some of these races were very close and could change. But here are the results so far:

Contra Costa Democratic Central Committee

District 2 (vote for 5): Incumbents Rich Verrilli, Herman Blackmon and Diddo Clark were re-elected. Newly elected members include former Pinole councilwoman Maria Alegria and former Martinez mayor Michael Menesini. Unsuccessful challengers include John Hall, Robert Nolan, Craig Cataline, Kathy Klein, Robert Klein, Christine Kiernan and Linda Kilday.

District 3 (vote for 4): Incumbents Frank Quattro and Raymond link were re-elected. New members are Ellen Nelson and Barbara Rainwater. Unsuccessful challengers include Christine McGinnis, Rao Kaza and Penny Dennenberg.

District 4 (vote for four): Incumbents Marie McDonald, Carlyn Obringer, Brian Lawrence and Chuck Carpenter were re-elected. Nineteen-year-old Rebecca Barrett received 4,734 votes but it wasn’t quite enough to put her into the seat.

District 5 (vote for four): Incumbents George Van Hasselt, Greg Enholm and Angel Luevano win re-election. The newly elected member is Sharon Mossman, who beat her incumbent husband, Richard Mossman. Also unsuccessful was Rosa Argentina Davila-Luevano.

Contra Costa Rep. Central Committee

District 1: (vote for two) Incumbents Derek Daniels and Richard Hallock win re-election. Challenger Derek Daniels is unsuccessful.

District 2: (vote for six) Incumbents Steve Le Gardeur, Tom Del Beccaro and Tom Fryer win re-election. Newly elected members are Stephen Sonaty, Jonathan Del Arroz and Virginia Fuller. Incumbent Edward Gorzynski Jr. lost.

District 3: (vote for eight) Incumbents Jo Anne Erickson, Eugene Kreps and Yvette Abreu win re-election. Newly elected members are Chuck Handwork, Ken Hambrick, Joe Rubay, Gretchen Medel and Becky Kolberg. Unsuccessful candidates include incumbents Terri Tonge and Greg Poulos. Unsuccessful challengers were Sean Ackley, Chris Becnel, Michael Caporusso, Larry Kaye and Matthew Del Carlo.

District 4 (vote for 4) Incumbents Elizabeth Hansen, Grace Ellis and Patty O’Day win re-election. The fourth-place finisher was Sean Brennan. Incumbent Darcy Linn, the party treasurer, was unsuccessful, along with challengers Karen Luethke, Phyllis Stout, Barry Cunningham, Jun Dam and Bill Gram-Reefer.

Posted on Wednesday, June 4th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, Contra Costa politics, Democratic politics, Republican politics | 29 Comments »