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Obama leading in California by 22 points

San Jose Mercury News political reporter Mary Anne Ostrom reported today on Field Poll findings that Barack Obama leads John McCain by 22 percentage points.

That Obama is winning in California isn’t news, of course. But the potential margin of victory carries huge coattails implications for down-ticket Democrats such as Rep. Jerry McNerney, the Pleasanton freshman seeking re-election in a conservative-leaning district.

Here are the few few graphs of the story:

Barack Obama is poised to win California by the largest margin of any president since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936, a new Field Poll released today finds.

The Democratic presidential candidate leads Republican rival John McCain by 22 percentage points — 55-33 — among likely voters in California. If that margin holds Tuesday, he would set a post-World War II record for a presidential victor in the state. Not even landslide victories in 1980 and 1984 by Ronald Reagan, a former California governor, came close.

Posted on Thursday, October 30th, 2008
Under: 2008 November election, 2008 presidential election, Congress, congressional district 11 | No Comments »

Conservative group targets Rep. George Miller with ads

An Iowa-based conservative group called the American Future Fund has spent $200,000 on a television ad plus more on two mailers targeting Democratic Rep. George Miller of Martinez.

The mailers began arriving in mailboxes in Miller’s district Wednesday (including mine) and the ad starting airing yesterday, as well. (See link to YouTube below.)

What is the American Future Fund and why would they spend $200,000 in Miller’s heavily Democratic district? It seems like a strange place to dump this kind of money.

According to various news accounts, the American Future Fund is technically a 501c(4) charity run by several well-known Republican strategists. Its web site says it promotes conservative, free market principles. It has spent scads of money on ads around the country in recent months, primarily targeting Democratic senators such as Mark Udall of Colorado for his views on oil-drilling.

The anti-Miller effort appears to be part of a larger nationwide campaign by business interests to defeat a controversial labor-related measure called the Employee Free Choice Act.

Miller is chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee and a key sponsor of the act. It passed the House in March 2007 but failed to win enough votes in the U.S. Senate to withstand a filibuster. Most expect this bill to resurface in the next Congress, especially if Democratic nominee Barack Obama wins the presidency next week.

While the Miller mailer focuses on $4.6 million in earmarks the congressman obtained for a local business, SecuriMetrics, that also contributed $16,090 to the legislator’s campaign committees, the TV ad says he supports the Employee Free Choice Act because he has accepted more than $1 million from labor unions.

The bill would add a second method by which employees could form a union. Under the current system, if 30 percent of the workforce petitions its employer for a union, the employer must hold an election and all the votes are taken in a secret ballot. The act states that if a majority of the workers sign a statement seeking a union, the union can be adopted and there is no secret ballot election.

Ironically, the American Future Fund accuses Miller of being in the pocket of corporate interests but no one knows where the fund gets its money.

A loophole in campaign finance law permits 501c(4) charities to spend money on “electioneering communications” without disclosing the names of the donors as long as political activity is not its major function.

Here’s the ad:

Posted on Thursday, October 30th, 2008
Under: 2008 November election, Congress, Contra Costa County | No Comments »

Rules for polling place go up on big signs

No one can say he or she didn’t know the rules now. Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir has posted these two signs after a recent incident in which several women wore pro-Obama clothing or buttons and brought cameras into the downtown Martinez election office.

Oh, the sign should also say: “Keep your clothes on.”

One of the women also stripped off her Obama shirt when asked to remove the offending item. Please, don’t disrobe.

Posted on Wednesday, October 29th, 2008
Under: 2008 November election | No Comments »

Butt says he was scammed, wink, wink

Richmond Councilman Tom Butt says he inadvertently blasted a forged letter singing the praises of Measure T, purportedly from the Richmond Chamber of Commerce. The chamber has been adamantly opposed to Measure T, which would levy a tax on the value of materials used in manufacturing.

In an updated email to his vast network of email subscribers, he says he was scammed. But he doesn’t sound too terribly sorry about it. It’s unlikely, after all, that Butt really believed the chamber had changed its position when he sent out the fake.

But here’s what Butt wrote:

“When I received a copy of a letter from a long-time member of the Chamber of Commerce appearing to support Measure, imagine my excitement! I wanted to share it with E-FORUM readers.

Well, it turns out that the letter was a fake. Apparently the original letter was emailed to Chamber members as an editable WORD file, and the Chamber member who sent it to me was disgruntled about the Chamber’s position on Measure T, which appeared to have been written by Chevron. “The devil made me do it, ” he said. “I just couldn’t bear to see my Chamber dues used to promote a political position I didn’t agree with.”

The scammer went on to say, “It’s okay if the Chamber’s political action committee, RichPAC, wants to campaign against Measure T; that’s not my money. But when they send out campaign literature on the Chamber’s letterhead, signed by the Chamber president, that’s going too far.”

“Anyway,” the scammer said, “It’s almost Halloween, and this was sort of a trick or treat visit to the Chamber Office. They declined the treat, and they got the trick.”

It reminded me of the Chamber’s last campaign against the 2006 Measure T, where the City Council subsequently directed the City to withdraw it’s $10,000 premium membership in the Chamber.

At any rate, the E-FORUM has completed its investigation and found the letter to be bogus. We apologize for this error and for any inconvenience it may have caused the Chamber of Commerce. Please delete the subject email and its attachment.

In the end, it seems the Chamber of Commerce was not the Chamber we wish we had but instead the Chevron-controlled Chamber we’ve got.”

Posted on Monday, October 27th, 2008
Under: 2008 November election | No Comments »

Richmond chamber says Butt forged Measure T letter

Richmond Councilman Tom Butt

Richmond Councilman Tom Butt

The nasty battle over Measure T in Richmond erupted this morning into counter-charges of forgery and humorlessness.

The offending document showed up online via Richmond Councilman Tom Butt’s vast email notice network that just about everybody in town seems to get.

The letter appears to be an electronic “Photoshopped” revision of an original “Vote No on Measure T” letter from Richmond Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Judy Morgan.

The forger kept the chamber’s letterhead and Morgan’s signature but rewrote the content to reflect a positive spin on Measure T.

Click here to download the Chamber of Commerce’s version of the letter.

Click here to download the forged version of the letter.

Butt, an ardent Measure T supporter, denied that he had anything to do with forging the letter.

He says he received it from an individual he declined to name and had no reason to believe it was inaccurate. So, he sent it out to his email subscribers in what’s affectionately referred to as the Butt Blast.

“I was overjoyed when I thought the chamber had changed its mind,” Butt said. “But if it was in error, I’ll track down the truth. Meanwhile, a little excitement never hurt anyone.”

Butt is renowned for his annual April Fool’s Day jokes on the town and the media.

But Morgan is not laughing. She says she learned about the letter when Measure T supporters began calling to congratulate her for finally seeing the light.

“This is the worst thing that Tom Butt has ever done,” Morgan said. “I don’t even know where to begin to repair the damage to my reputation and that of the chamber … I think he should think about resigning his position.”

Measure T would establish a fee on businesses of one fourth of one percent of the value of the raw materials used in the manufacturing process.

Critics, such as the chamber, say the burden will fall unfairly on Chevron and hurt other local businesses. Proponents argue that it will force local businesses to pay their fair share of impacts on the community.

Click here to read the text and arguments for and against Measure T at the League of Women Voters’ online Smart Voter page.

Posted on Friday, October 24th, 2008
Under: 2008 November election, Contra Costa politics | 1 Comment »

Women strips off Obama shirt in Contra Costa election office

Rgistrar of Voters Steve Weir

Registrar of Voters Steve Weir

Unruly pro-Obama voters invaded the Contra Costa election office in Martinez late this afternoon, including a well-endowed woman who stripped off her Obama tank top in the lobby.

It’s illegal campaign within 100 feet from where people are voting and the county elections office is now open for early voting.

Registrar of Voters Steve Weir approached the women and advised them of the rules and asked them to remove the offending pro-Obama items or he would be forced to call the police.

One woman refused to remove her Obama button and voted anyway, Weir said. A second woman partially covered her Obama shirt with her purse.

But a third took off her Obama tank top to reveal a lovely tan-colored bra, Weir said.  She reversed the shirt and put it back on inside out right there in the the middle of the election office.

“She was stunning,” said Weir, a gay man who recently married his longtime partner in the county’s first same-sex marriage ceremony. “I can say that, can’t I?”

The women were also carrying digital and video cameras, also in violation of the law. It is illegal to bring a camera or recording device into the voting booth and take pictures or videos of people voting. (I’ll be watching YouTube to see if this shows up.)

Weir ended up calling the Martinez police. The police warned the women but didn’t arrest them. And they were all allowed to vote.

“We don’t want to stop anyone from voting but this group clearly came with the intention to cause a disruption and that’s not a good idea,” Weir said.

On the other hand, the disrobing does put Weir in the the running for the informal, annual Butte County award, the site of the first recorded incident in which a woman took off her shirt in a voting precinct.

Posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2008
Under: 2008 November election, 2008 presidential election, Contra Costa County | 12 Comments »

Campaigning for liberals: Do they stay or go?

A few weeks ago, there was “Drive for Change,” an appeal to California Democrats to pack their bags and travel to battleground states and campaign for the Democratic presidential ticket.

Plenty of folks are doing it, too. In fact, the response has overwhelmed Obama campaign organizers in Nevada who fear the locals — who often view Californians with considerable and well-deserved scorn — will see it as an invasion. (I lived in Northern Nevada for many years and I know of what I speak.)

Now, Calitics blogger Brian Leubitz urges “Stay for Change.”

Lots of local candidates and state ballot measures need precinct walkers, too, he argues.

“This is California,” he wrote. “We have the people right here in this state to defeat these terrible props, and accomplish our goals.  But we need some progressives to stay here in California.”

Posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2008
Under: 2008 November election, 2008 presidential election | No Comments »

Democrat Buchanan earns GOP Stockton mayor’s nod

Joan Buchanan

Joan Buchanan

Abram Wilson

Abram Wilson

If we needed yet another sign that San Joaquin County has officially joined the Bay Area, then this is it: GOP Stockton Mayor Ed Chavez has endorsed Democratic Assembly District 15 candidate Joan Buchanan over Republican nominee and fellow mayor Abram Wilson of San Ramon.

Chavez also recently endorsed Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton over Republican challenger and his Stockton neighbor Dean Andal.

Granted, Chavez used to be a Democrat and critics say changed parties in order to win the mayor’s seat. But still, what is going on in the Valley?

Read more for Buchanan’s press release sent this morning: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, October 23rd, 2008
Under: 2008 November election, Assembly, Contra Costa County, San Joaquin County politics | 7 Comments »

Esquire magazine endorses Gerber over Tauscher

Esquire magazine cover

Esquire magazine cover

I confess, when I first heard this news, I thought, “What does Esquire magazine have against Rep. Ellen Tauscher?”

The magazine released its 2008 endorsement recommendations for California and it chose long-shot Republican challenger Nick Gerber over incumbent Democratic Rep. Tauscher. Here’s what the magazine said:

Tauscher seems often to be caught between her Wall Street background and her party’s policy goals. It leads to friction in Washington and at home. Her opponent, successful investor Nicholas Gerber, blends the district’s liberal and entrepreneurial values.
Esquire endorses: Gerber

“Liberal and entrepreneurial” values?

Okay, entrepreneurial is probably accurate. I have no reason to question Gerber’s professional background.

But liberal? True, he’s  pro-choice but he is also a former Libertarian.

Nick Gerber

Nick Gerber

I seriously doubt that liberals in this heavily Democratic district who chafe at some of Tauscher’s moderate positions will find Gerber an acceptable alternative. If you are curious about his positions, you can read them on the issues page of his website.

I have no idea what information Esquire used to make its endorsement decision. Gerber says the magazine never contacted him.

The magazine also named two Californians among its choices for top 10 worst members of Congress –Democrat reps. Pete Stark of Fremont and Joe Baca of San Bernardino.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
Under: 2008 November election, Congress | No Comments »

Yard sign in Pleasant Hill raises eyebrows

Judge for yourself: Does this sign leave you with the impression that the Pleasant Hill police department supports council candidates David Durant, Karen Mitchoff and John Hanacak?

It did not. But it is darned tough to read the logo on this sign as you whiz by in your car.

The Pleasant Hill Police Officers Association — the union — has endorsed these candidates over the other two challengers, Keith Hunt and Bruce Weissenberger. It was a particularly tough blow for Hunt, who is a former Pleasant Hill police officer.

Posted on Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008
Under: 2008 November election, Contra Costa politics | No Comments »