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Potential House rivals to share podium at dinner

Butter the popcorn and get ready for some interesting viewing: Potential rivals for an East Bay House seat will share the podium at a Democratic Party event next month in Hayward.

Eric SwalwellState Treasurer Bill Lockyer – who’s had a tough year of his own – is scheduled to keynote the Eden Area United Democratic Campaign’s annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner, but Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, and state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, are among the other speakers.

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, was among the speakers at last year’s dinner, and he had the Eden Area UDC’s support in last year’s 15th Congressional District election; his campaign manager even worked out of the UDC’s office in Hayward for a while. Swalwell succeeded in unseating Stark, after Corbett – along with former Obama administration official Ro Khanna – declined to challenge Stark.

Ellen CorbettKhanna is now considering a 2014 run for the 17th Congressional District seat now held by Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose. But Corbett – who is term-limited out of the state Senate in 2014 – has left open the possibility that she’ll challenge Swalwell: “I would be honored to serve in Congress, but it’s too early to discuss 2014,” she said in November.

So Swalwell will be addressing a room full of people who just months ago were working hard to defeat him, and he’ll share the podium with someone who might challenge him next year. Fun for everyone!

The event is scheduled for 5:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, March 21 in the Carpenters’ union hall on Mattox Road in Hayward; tickets are available online.

Posted on Wednesday, February 27th, 2013
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, California State Senate, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

Why is NRCC still targeting Jerry McNerney?

I got a good laugh from an e-mail I received yesterday morning from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“Today, the National Republican Congressional Committee is welcoming Jerry McNerney back to Washington with a plan he won’t be able to resist: the House Democrats’ Retirement Package. This is an incredible offer for the California Democrat. With voters poised to boot McNerney out of office in the next election, why not just bow out now?,” the email said.

“Why wait until voters show you the door in 2014?” NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said in the release. “House Democrats continue to support tax and spend policies and a big government agenda. If McNerney doesn’t retire soon, voters are going to deliver his retirement for him.”

McNerney, D-Stockton, was one of 10 House Democrats whose districts were targeted with this message, and the only one in California. I just can’t imagine why the NRCC continues to see McNerney as vulnerable, given that he just whupped the NRCC’s anointed “Young Gun,” Ricky Gill of Lodi, by 11.2 percentage points last month – the largest victory margin McNerney has ever had. He also now enjoys the largest Democratic voter registration edge (12 points) he’s ever had, so it’s hard to see how the NRCC sees a foothold there.

But hey, email is free, right? The true test will be when we see how much money the NRCC does, or doesn’t, put behind the next Republican to challenge McNerney.

Posted on Friday, January 4th, 2013
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Garamendi raising funds to pay off campaign debt

With a hard-fought re-election race done, Rep. John Garamendi needs more money to pay off his campaign debts.

Garamendi, D-Fairfield, will hold a fundraising luncheon Monday at an Italian restaurant in South San Francisco, seeking from $500 to $2,500 per person.

Garamendi fended off a challenge from Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, a Republican, in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District. He finished with 54.1 percent of the vote to Vann’s 45.9 percent, according to still-unofficial results scheduled to be certified next week.

As of Oct. 17 – the final reporting deadline before the election – Garamendi’s campaign had outspent Vann’s by about 43 percent, but had only $112,698 cash on hand with $132,354 in outstanding debts and obligations.

Posted on Friday, December 7th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, campaign finance, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

10 observations at the end of this election week

1.) One party’s strategy this year involved getting far more people to vote, while another’s seemed to involve having fewer people vote; the more democratic approach prevailed.

2.) Meg should’ve told Mitt: Money helps, but it ain’t everything.

3.) It’s not just W who calls Karl Rove “turd blossom” now; a lot of rich, anonymous donors must be clamoring for their money back.

4.) You can read, watch or listen to your news from whatever outlets you want, but eventually reality comes crashing in.

5.) Picture an empty chair, on which sits a binder full of women who ride horses and carry bayonets; now think of in whose favor all of these campaign memes worked.

6.) A slow adjustment, with small changes marking the way from old to new, is evolution; an overnight change is more like mutation.

7.) When a party leader talks tough – even in the heat of battle – about picking up 25 seats, and in the end only picks up seven, there are consequences.

8.) Even 40 years of incumbency can’t save a candidate from himself.

9.) Don’t mess with Jerry Brown.

10.) Donald Trump is an a—hat.

Posted on Friday, November 9th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, 2012 presidential election | 57 Comments »

A few more thoughts on Pete Stark’s defeat

We’ve posted my story for tomorrow’s print editions on how Rep. Pete Stark’s defeat marks both the end of an era and, probably, the start of another Democrat-on-Democrat race for the 15th Congressional District in 2014. Here’s a few final thoughts for which there wasn’t room in that story, but which seem noteworthy nonetheless.

This was a contest for which our editors wanted election-night photographs, but Stark’s campaign refused to tell us Monday and Tuesday where he would be Tuesday night; I still don’t know where he watched the returns.

I take this as a sign that his campaign staff knew there was a pretty good chance he would lose. I’d bet their final internal polling showed a tight race, perhaps with Stark holding a small lead, but with many last-minute “undecided” voters likely to break against the incumbent. Apparently they did.

San Jose State University political scientist Larry Gerston said Stark’s “quirky political behavior and a dramatically changed district” fueled his downfall at least as much as the top-two primary system. That is, Stark’s loss necessarily doesn’t mark a sea change in how future campaigns will be run, and other Bay Area House Democrats need not look over their shoulders.

“This was the exception to the rule – I don’t know any other elected official in Congress who had the reputation Stark had,” Gerston said. “It’s a shame. He’s a man who at one time had an impeccable reputation, a liberal icon. This is more a story of ‘his time had come.’”

Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 8 Comments »

Your state and Bay Area House-race roundup

All in all, it was a dismal night for Republicans in California House races.

Of the 11 California House races deemed competitive by the renowned Cook Political Report, Democrats won seven outright and are on top in two too-close-to-call other races. Another way of slicing and dicing it: All of the three endangered Democratic incumbents in these races won re-election, but only one of the four Republicans might’ve. And of the new or open seats, Democrats won three of the four.

More specifically:

    The battles to unseat Reps. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Brian Bilbray, R-Solana Beach, remain too close to call with some mail-in and provisional ballots yet to be counted, but both trail their Democratic challengers by narrow margins.
    Reps. Jerry McNerney; John Garamendi, D-Fairfield; and Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara all turned away their Republican challengers to win re-election. Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, is the only Republican incumbent definitely left standing in these competitive races.

Not than anyone considered it competitive, but Democrat Jared Huffman trounced Republican Dan Roberts to succeed Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-San Rafael, in the North Bay’s newly drawn 2nd Congressional District, which reaches from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Oregon border.

In the Bay Area, as usual, the only question for most Democratic incumbents (with the exception, of course, of Pete Stark) was by how enormous a margin they would dispatch their challengers. See how that all stacks up as of this hour, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Dan Lungren, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Lynn Woolsey, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Pete Stark, Sam Farr, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | 7 Comments »

Pete Stark issues statement on loss to Swalwell

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, who lost his seat in this election to fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell, issued this statement by e-mail a few minutes ago:

Pete Stark (photo by Aric Crabb)“It has been my honor to serve the people of the East Bay for the last 40 years. I have worked hard to deliver results: accomplishments like writing the COBRA law to make health insurance portable between jobs, bringing the first computers to schools, and crafting President Obama’s groundbreaking health care law.

“I went to Washington by running against an unpopular war and for women’s rights, opportunity for children and dignity for seniors. I leave knowing that the landscape has changed, but the needs of my constituents remain.

“I congratulate Mr. Swalwell on his victory. I am happy to be of assistance in the future.

“I want to thank all the wonderful people I met along this fabulous journey and I will remember them fondly. Together, we have made a real difference.”

We’ll have a big story later today following up on Swalwell’s victory, and what comes next.

Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

3 things for the GOP to consider in California

1.) Learn to choose better battles.

Every cycle, the National Republican Congressional Committee tells us that Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, is among the nation’s most vulnerable House Democrats; every cycle, he proves otherwise. In 2008, with a 1-point voter registration disadvantage, he won by 10 percentage points; in 2010, with a .32-point voter-registration disadvantage, he won by 1.1 percentage points; and this year, with a 12-point voter-registration edge, he won by 8 percentage points. Instead of pouring resources into the campaign of a 25-year-old with no job experience, perhaps the GOP should’ve looked for greener pastures.

2.) Your navel-gazing is near-sighted.

California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro’s statement last night indicates he believes Romney and Republicans failed to “make the case, at every level, for tax reform and to successfully articulate that a welfare state can’t succeed and the true engine of growth is a vigorous free enterprise system.” I’m sure some Democrats will disagree with the philosophical underpinnings of that argument, and that’s not a debate I’ll get into here. But what Del Beccaro failed to address was that the GOP clearly lost big among Latinos, Asian-Americans, African-Americans and young voters – that is, most of this nation’s future electorate. If his party can’t find platform that appeals to these blocs, and an effective way of explaining it to them, it’ll continue to wane even further. Already I see some GOPers sniffing that Obama won without a mandate, but the fact is, he won the popular vote by at least about 2.7 million and – if Florida were to stop counting votes now (and where have I heard THAT before?) – he’d win there too, meaning he carried every battleground state except North Carolina.

3.) Who has the mandate?

Gov. Jerry Brown has the mandate. He won it in 2010 when he beat out the candidate who spent a record $142 million of her money to no avail. He won it again last night with a resounding 8-point victory for Prop. 30, his tax hike for K-12 and higher education. And it seems voters are tired enough of gridlock in Sacramento that they may have handed Democrats two-thirds majorities in both houses of the Legislature – another mandate, of sorts, for Brown’s agenda. The moral of this story: Don’t mess with Jerry.

Posted on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, 2012 presidential election, Jerry Brown, Jerry McNerney, Republican Party, Republican politics, U.S. House | 5 Comments »

Election 2012 open thread

OK, have at it in the comments, readers – just remember to keep it clean, and avoid personal attacks on each other.

Posted on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
Under: 2012 Assembly election, 2012 Congressional Election, 2012 presidential election, 2012 State Senate election, 2012 U.S. Senate election | 38 Comments »

Some inspirational words for Election Day

Some words of inspiration for those who still haven’t cast a ballot today:

“Impress upon children the truth that the exercise of the elective franchise is a social duty of as solemn a nature as man can be called to perform; that a man may not innocently trifle with his vote; that every elector is a trustee as well for others as himself and that every measure he supports has an important bearing on the interests of others as well as on his own.”
– Daniel Webster

“I know nothing grander, better exercise, better digestion, more positive proof of the past, the triumphant result of faith in human kind, than a well-contested American national election.”
– Walt Whitman

“We preach the virtues of democracy abroad. We must practice its duties here at home. Voting is the first duty of democracy.”
– President Lyndon B. Johnson

“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”
George Jean Nathan

“Democracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will get the blame.”
Laurence J. Peter, formulator of “the Peter Principle”

Posted on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012
Under: 2012 Assembly election, 2012 Congressional Election, 2012 Contra Costa County election, 2012 presidential election, 2012 State Senate election, 2012 U.S. Senate election | No Comments »