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Fact-checking the new McNerney & Gill ads in CA9

The advertising war rolls on in the 9th Congressional District, where Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, is challenged by Republican Ricky Gill of Lodi.

Here’s McNerney’s newest ad:

It takes some pretty tortured logic to conclude that Gill’s adherence to the Americans for Tax Reform pledge amounts to support for companies that outsource jobs – so tortured, in fact, that nonpartisan fact-checkers such as FactCheck.org and PolitiFact.com long ago deemed the claim false.

Here’s Gill’s newest ad:

McNerney voted for the economic stimulus of 2009, but had nothing to do with the Obama Administration’s selection of Solyndra for the loan guarantee – under a program begun by the Bush Administration – on which it later defaulted. Also, if Gill blames McNerney and Democrats for the Wall Street bailout, he also should blame the 91 House Republicans – including now-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio – who voted for it too. And pinning national problems like a stagnant economy, soaring gas and health care prices and the national debt on one congressman’s “experience” seems like a stretch; there’s plenty of blame to go around, on both sides of the aisle.

Posted on Friday, October 12th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Tech leaders like Romney, think Obama will win

Technology leaders President Obama will be re-elected, but think Republican nominee Mitt Romney would give a bigger boost to the technology economy, according to a new survey.

The DLA Piper Technology Leaders Forecast Survey found, among other things:

    76 percent of tech leaders expect President Obama to be re-elected
    64 percent believe Romney would be better for the technology economy
    64 percent see an increased threat of regulation for the private equity and venture capital

DLA Piper, a global law firm, distributed its survey in late September and early October to senior executives and advisors in the technology industry, including CEOs, CFOs and other company officers at tech companies, as well as to venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and consultants. The study was released today in conjunction with DLA Piper’s Global Technology Leaders Summit taking place at the Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park.

Sixty percent of business leaders are skeptical that a second term for the Obama administration would have a positive impact on the technology sector. The partisan tables have turned since the 2008 election, when nearly 60 percent of tech executives believed that then-Senator Barack Obama would have a more positive impact on technology development and investment than his GOP opponent, U.S. Sen. John McCain.

“Regardless of the election’s outcome, it seems clear that what technology leaders want out of Washington is greater clarity on regulation and tax policy. Those themes surfaced prominently in our latest version of the survey,” Peter Astiz, global co-head of the Technology Sector at DLA Piper, said in a news release.

The survey found 78 percent of respondents believe that the presidential campaign dialogue surrounding private equity – namely, attacks upon Romney’s record at Bain Capital – has damaged the reputation of the private equity and venture capital industry, and 65 percent expressed concern that this focus could likely lead to new regulation of the industry.

Most respondents – 60 percent – think letting the Bush-era tax cuts expire would negatively impact tech-sector investments; 33 percent think the tax cuts’ expiration would have no direct impact on the tech sector’s growth.

Posted on Tuesday, October 9th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Barack Obama, economy, Mitt Romney | 8 Comments »

Bill Clinton to stump in Davis for House candidates

Former President Bill Clinton will visit the University of California at Davis tomorrow to give a boost to four Democratic House candidates fighting fierce battles here in Northern California.

Bill ClintonClinton, arguably now one of his party’s most beloved figures, will bring his vaunted rhetorical skills to bear on behalf of Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, who faces a challenge from Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, a Republican, in the 3rd Congressional District; Dr. Ami Bera, the Elk Grove physician who’s challenging Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River in the 7th Congressional District; Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, who faces a challenge from Republican Ricky Gill of Lodi in the 9th Congressional District; and Jose Hernandez, the former NASA astronaut challenging Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto, in the 10th Congressional District.

These races – especially Bera’s second attempt at unseating Lungren – have generated millions of dollars in advertising spending from the campaigns, national organizations, and super PACs. Clinton will headline a rally for the candidates Tuesday morning on UC Davis’ quad.

“Middle class Americans need champions in Congress who will fight for good American jobs, and who will put people before politics,” Clinton said in a statement issued Monday. “I’m proud to endorse four people who will do just that: John Garamendi, Jerry McNerney, Ami Bera, and Jose Hernandez. They’ve got fresh ideas to help restore the economy for middle class families, and they know Congress is a place for service, not personal gain.”

Posted on Monday, October 8th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Dan Lungren, Jeff Denham, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 9 Comments »

House would-bes cast as youthful, inexperienced

Campaigns supporting two East Bay Democratic congressmen have launched new efforts attacking their challengers – one a Republican, the other a fellow Democrat – as too youthful and inexperienced to serve.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching a “Ricky’s Real Resume” website to call attention to what it says are shortcomings on the part of Ricky Gill, 25, of Lodi, the Republican challenger to Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, in the 9th Congressional District.

“Ricky Gill is more qualified to be a congressional intern than a Congressman, and everything on his resume is an exaggeration at best,” DCCC spokeswoman Amber Moon said. “Gill has spent this entire campaign trying to sell himself to voters as a small business job creator among other things, but how can Ricky Gill talk about creating jobs when he’s never even had one?”

Gill’s campaign couldn’t immediately be reached for comment today.

UPDATE @ 12:40 A.M. SUNDAY: From Gill campaign spokesman Colin Hunter:

“Voters aren’t buying Jerry McNerney’s tired and misleading campaign attacks. The Stockton Record recently concluded that McNerney was making ‘false’ claims in his advertisements. This amateurish website is just more of the same.

“We’re happy to talk about experience in this campaign. McNerney’s experience includes voting for record-setting, trillion dollar deficits; taking contributions from the predatory lenders he bailed out; lying to voters about where he lives; and totally failing to defend our communities from the threat posed by Governor Brown’s peripheral tunnels.

“By contrast, Ricky actually has the experience of living in the district he seeks to represent; of serving with distinction on the State Board of Education; of volunteering his time at local hospitals and homeless shelters; and of working in agriculture and small business.”

Meanwhile, in the 15th Congressional District, Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, has put out a new, t-ball-themed mailer painting his Democratic challenger, Dublin councilman and Alameda County prosecutor Eric Swalwell, as a “rookie” lacking the experience to take on Republicans in the next Congress:

Swalwell today replied that “sometimes calling up a rookie is the only way to replace a veteran sitting at the edge of the bench who can’t even find the field.”

“And last time I checked, my six years as a prosecutor and two years as a councilman is more public service experience than Pete Stark had in 1972 when he said the incumbent had been in office too long,” he added.

Posted on Sunday, October 7th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 14 Comments »

Pete Stark gets down and dirty on Social Security

Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, is hitting back against his Democratic challenger by accusing him of “opening the door to massive changes” in Social Security, threatening “millions of seniors and their beneficiaries.”

But it seems he’s playing it a bit fast and loose with what his opponent, Dublin councilman and Alameda County prosecutor Eric Swalwell, actually said.

This dustup began in August Swalwell’s call for “closing a loophole” in Social Security that lets children collect benefits even if their parents are age-eligible but still working and collecting salaries in excess of the earning cap – like Stark’s kids do.

The San Francisco Chronicle in August reported that Stark’s minor children – he has a 16-year-old and 11-year-old twins – collect benefits. Stark, 81, collects a $174,000 annual salary as a congressman, but his kids remain able to get the payments.

“Every person should receive the benefits to which he or she paid into and is entitled,” Swalwell had said at the time. “But, just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right. The purpose of granting Social Security benefits to children of retirees is to stabilize the family’s income – the only income of the family – and ensure the minor children are receiving the necessities they need. Clearly, the situation in the Stark household is not the intended purpose of this benefit and he’s diverting government money to his kids.”

“Minor children should only be allowed to collect Social Security benefits if their parent is collecting benefits earned because they are retired, not working and not earning other income above the earnings cap,” Swalwell had said.

The Stark campaign responded that Stark’s children were benefiting from a system into which Stark had paid all his life, just like anyone else’s kids could, and that to change the system would amount to means testing to determine who does and doesn’t get benefits.

Now Stark’s campaign has posted this video, the second entry in his “Pete Stark Answers the Tough Questions” series:

But at no point has Swalwell said he “would support the Romney-Ryan plan to undo Social Security and Medicare,” as Stark claims.

Stark’s campaign also this week sent out a mailer with a kindly-looking elderly couple on the cover and the caption “Putting Seniors At Risk.” Inside, the mailer trumpets “Congressional candidate Eric Swalwell: Ending Social Security as we know it.”

“The Romney-Ryan plan puts seniors’ financial security at risk,” the mailer says. “Instead of standing up to the Romney-Ryan plan, Eric Swalwell has joined them in attacking Social Security. Swalwell proposed a plan for Social Security that would cut guaranteed benefits, opening the door the massive changes that would threaten millions of seniors and their beneficiaries who rely on Social Security as a source of income. Swalwell’s plan would break the promise that is at the heart of Social Security: all Americans pay into it and all Americans benefit from it.”

The mailer also details Stark’s opposition to efforts to change or cut Social Security and Medicare, which is accurate. But nowhere does the mailer describe the specific loophole Swalwell chose to cut.

It quotes a subsequent Chronicle story as reporting that “Social Security experts, liberal and conservative, agreed that Swalwell’s proposal would require some form of means testing.” But the mailer doesn’t quote that same story’s next line: “They also said families in Stark’s position – a wealthy senior with minor children – are rare.”

The Romney campaign’s website describes the GOP ticket’s Social Security platform thus:

First, for future generations of seniors, Mitt believes that the retirement age should be slowly increased to account for increases in longevity.
Second, for future generations of seniors, Mitt believes that benefits should continue to grow but that the growth rate should be lower for those with higher incomes.

Romney also has discussed means testing for ALL seniors, not just for those with kids receiving benefits, as well as adding individual retirement accounts as an option.

At a meeting with the Bay Area News Group editorial board in May, Swalwell called stabilizing Social Security “a big problem, it’s a big concern” best addressed by raising the payroll tax cap from its current level of $110,000. He also called for building into the system an index that would automatically raise retirement ages in proportion to life expectancies.

Stark also called for raising the tax cap and said he would be willing to scale up the retirement age; he said that to guarantee current benefit levels indefinitely, the payroll tax would need to be increased by 3 percent – 1.5 percent for the worker, 1.5 percent for the employer. “It’s a strong social program that I think has been the backbone of protecting the less fortunate in this country, and I think we can make it work.”

See photos of the Stark mailer, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 23 Comments »

Pete Stark ‘answers the tough questions.’ Sort of.

Rep. Pete Stark, facing one of the toughest electoral challenges of his 40-year House career, is launching a video series called “Answering the Tough Questions.” The first one, “Why do you have a reputation for having a sharp tongue?”, rolls out today:

This seems to raise more questions than it answers.

It’s not Stark’s “sharp tongue” that 15th Congressional District voters, and national pundits, have been buzzing about this year – it was his series of outlandish, unfounded allegations that later had to be retracted. To recap:

    April 10: At a candidates’ forum in Hayward, Stark says that Swalwell accepted “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes” from Dublin-area developers, and that Swalwell has a spotty voting record.
    April 18: Stark issues a statement apologizing for having “misspoke” in making the April 10 allegations, but voicing “concerns about my opponent’s behavior” including Swalwell’s votes for projects “by developers who have been raided by the FBI” and “have plead guilty to destroying natural habitats.”
    May 1: At a San Francisco Chronicle editorial board meeting, Stark accuses a columnist of having contributed to Swalwell’s campaign; pressed for evidence, he flips through a folder of information he said was compiled by his 16-year-old son, finds nothing to back his claim, and apologizes. In the same meeting, he confuses defunct Fremont solar manufacturer Solyndra with electric-car manufacturer Tesla.
    May 3: At a Bay Area News Group editorial board meeting, Stark acknowledges he lacked evidence to back his April 18 claims: “I’ll concede to that, apologize for it, and let’s get back to issues.”

I asked Sharon Cornu, Stark’s campaign manager, about this today.

“The video is Pete answering the tough questions, the fair questions that have been raised, and communicating with voters the way he has through his town hall meetings over the years,” she replied. “We’re past the distraction part of the campaign, and it’s time to look at the issues that really matter.”

I also asked her whether “answering the tough questions” begs the question of why Stark won’t hold any public debates this general-election season with challenger Eric Swalwell, a Dublin councilman, Alameda County prosecutor and fellow Democrat.

“Put a fork in it, it’s done – we’ve had debates. Now’s the time to be talking with voters, not with the small number of people who attend debates,” Cornu said today. “This campaign is really about the direction of the country, this campaign is about President Obama and Mitt Romney, this campaign is about Social Security, Medicare and implementing the Affordable Care Act, and Pete Stark has the experience to represent the district.”

At a July event in Union City, Stark had grown angry as reporters asked whether his age is an issue in this race; asked why he won’t debate Swalwell, Stark replied it’s because “we’d only get stupid questions like you’re asking that have nothing to do with issues.”

There’s that sharp tongue again.

Posted on Friday, September 28th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 28 Comments »

Two area Democrats OKed ‘No More Solyndras’ bill

Two Northern California House Democrats sided with House Republicans last week to pass a bill called the “No More Solyndras Act” to phase out the clean energy loan-guarantee program that bankrolled the now-defunct Fremont solar manufacturer.

Reps. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, and Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, were among the 22 Democrats who joined with 223 House Republicans to vote in favor of H.R. 6213; they were the only California Democrats to do so. On the other side, 157 Democrats and four Republicans opposed the bill, which now is before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, praised the bill as ensuring “that taxpayers are no longer left holding the bag for the administration’s reckless investments. … The Obama administration may still regard the loan program that brought us Solyndra as an ‘enormous success,’ but the American people know better.”

Both McNerney and Garamendi are locked in tough re-election battles: McNerney, with Lodi Republican Ricky Gill; and Garamendi, with Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, also a Republican. Also, both voted for President Barack Obama’s economic-stimulus package, which funded the loan-guarantee program among many other things; the program itself began during President George W. Bush’s administration.

“This program, like all government programs, needs to be reviewed and modified to address problems,” Garamendi said in a statement issued by a spokesman Friday. “I will continue my work to strengthen energy independence, create clean energy jobs, and Make It In America.”

McNerney last year had defended the loan-guarantee program.

“Solyndra certainly needs to be accounted for,” he had said in an interview. “But in order to develop new sources of energy we need to do research and development, and a well-supervised loan guarantee is one way to achieve that. I think there is a need for loan guarantees, especially considering what’s happening overseas.

McNerney had said it’s “not a good argument to say that the failure of one company is an indication that the whole industry has a problem. Moreover, oil, gas and coal companies have had government subsidies for 100 years or so, so I think it’s reasonable that renewable resources companies can look to the government for help both in research and in incentives.”

McNerney spokeswoman Lauren Smith on Saturday noted McNerney’s use of the phrase “well-supervised,” and said he made no endorsement of a program that lacks proper oversight and management.

“Congressman McNerney has always taken pride in being an independent voice and representing the people in our community,” she said. “With the people in Contra Costa and San Joaquin Counties struggling in today’s economy, he felt compelled to vote for H.R. 6213 to ensure that their hard-earned tax dollars are spent in a responsible way with proper oversight and accountability. He understands what it’s like to be out of work and worried about money – and how every last dollar matters to most families in our region.”

As the Associated Press reported, Republicans have noted that three of the first five companies to get loan guarantees under the stimulus, including Solyndra, have gone bankrupt. But Democrats say Republicans are ignoring the Energy Department’s successes, including saving nearly 300 million gallons of gasoline a year by supporting such projects as one of the world’s largest wind farms in Oregon, a large solar generation project in California and a major photovoltaic solar power plant in Arizona.

Gill’s campaign is making hay of McNerney’s vote, noting McNerney had called green energy his “signature issue” during his initial run for the House in 2006.

“It turns out his signature was written in disappearing ink,” said Gill campaign consultant Kevin Spillane, accusing McNerney of “suddenly running away from the issue that defined his candidacy and his entire record in Congress — the advocacy of green energy, its supposedly endless economic potential, and the need for costly government incentives to promote its development.”

“Seems like McNerney’s true ‘signature issue’ is saving his political career,” Spillane said.

Smith replied this is “a blatant political attack… There is no credibility there.”

Posted on Saturday, September 22nd, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, economy, energy, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, U.S. House | No Comments »

Gill wants you to parse McNerney’s TARP votes

The campaign of Lodi Republican Ricky Gill – who’s taking on Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District – is up in arms about a claim made in pro-McNerney mailers sent out by the California Democratic Party.

Two CDP mailers, aiming to paint McNerney as a fiscal conservative, say he voted “NO to a $350 billion bailout because McNerney believes in responsible spending.”

But Gill’s campaign notes that the January 2009 vote to which that refers – on releasing the second half of the $700 billion for the Troubled Asset Relief Program – was meaningless. As FactCheck.org explained two years ago:

As the law was structured, the treasury secretary (then Henry Paulson) had access to only $350 billion, half of the total package, at first. The second half would be available only if the administration went to Congress and asked for it. Treasury would get the money unless Congress said no. The first $350 billion of the TARP money was quickly spent.

By the time the Bush administration, at the request of President-elect Barack Obama, filed a request with the Senate for the rest of the money on Jan. 12, 2009, there were widespread complaints that too much of the first tranche had been used to bail out large institutions and not enough to help homeowners. The new funds could have been blocked had both houses of Congress voted to do so, but on Jan. 15, 2009, the Senate defeated a disapproval resolution, 52-42, effectively voting to release the funds. Treasury almost immediately announced it would use some of the money to shore up a deeply crippled Bank of America.

Where was the House in all this? Pretty much irrelevant. Eventually there was a similar vote in that body. … [I]t passed, 270-155. But the vote came on Jan. 22, a week after the Senate’s vote (and two days after Obama was sworn in). Treasury already had the money.

So the House vote was purely symbolic.

“The Democrats’ claim is doubly misleading because McNerney voted for TARP in the first place,” Gill spokesman Colin Hunter said in an email.

True, too – though it might be worth noting that the law creating TARP was proposed and signed by President George W. Bush, and approved by Congress with bipartisan support (including Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and 90 other House Republicans). And also that TARP both worked and cost the taxpayers less than expected, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Posted on Thursday, September 20th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

Swalwell wants new CA-15 debate, but host balks

15th Congressional District candidate Eric Swalwell today urged the Eden Area League of Women Voters not to give incumbent Rep. Pete Stark “a free pass” by failing to hold another debate in this race.

Eric Swalwell“Voters deserve to hear from Congressman Stark and me on the issues that impact their lives,” Swalwell, a Dublin councilman and Alameda County prosecutor, said in a news release. “The voters expect debates. It’s time to come out of hiding. As a 40-year incumbent, Congressman Stark should be prepared to face his constituents and explain himself. The League of Women Voters should not give Congressman Stark a free pass from the time-honored tradition of debate and dialogue.”

But league president Nancy Van Huffel said it’s nothing personal – she just sees no point in it given that the league had sponsored a pre-primary debate for this race in April.

“We are sponsoring probably 12 or 14 candidate forums and we are a small league, so I did not schedule another debate for Pete Stark and his opponent because we had a debate and it is online,” she said today. “We didn’t see where it would be any kind of new thing.”

Van Huffel said she was unaware when this fall’s debates were scheduled that Stark, D-Fremont, had already publicly refused to debate Swalwell again. “He was not invited, he did not refuse, it was just a matter basically of timing.”

She acknowledged, however, that the league is holding a second debate for at least one East Bay race: the 20th Assembly District contest between Hayward councilman Bill Quirk and Hayward optometrist Jennifer Ong, which like the Stark-Swallwell race is a Democrat-on-Democrat smackdown made possible by the state’s new top-two primary system.

Three other candidates were eliminated in the 20th Assembly District primary so the dynamics have changed considerably, Van Huffel noted; only one candidate was eliminated in the 15th Congressional District primary.

“Certainly that race is important but I’m not sure there would be any further information that would come of it (a debate),” she said. “We try to do the best we can.”

With or without a new debate, the race continues to be noticed outside the Bay Area: Daily Kos’ David Nir today named CA-15 the only “tossup” among California’s six same-party House elections.

The league’s pre-primary CA-15 debate was the forum at which Stark accused Swalwell of having accepted “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes” from Dublin-area developers – an accusation he later retracted, and the first of several allegations Stark made this spring which proved to be untrue.

Follow after the jump for complete video of that April forum, broken into four parts…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Pete Stark, U.S. House | 8 Comments »

Ricky Gill wins Farm Bureau endorsement

Ricky Gill, the Lodi Republican challenging Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District, announced today that he’s been endorsed by the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Ricky Gill“Ricky Gill has grown up in the Central Valley and has firsthand experience in small business, dealing with regulations and encouraging the expansion of trade to grow our economy and create local jobs,” California Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger said in Gill’s release. “His family’s roots in agriculture have guided his life’s path, and he will make the needs of farmers and ranchers a priority as he represents his district in Washington.”

Wenger said Gill will be “an energetic advocate for his constituents and will support policies to help turn our economy around, to provide jobs and business opportunities for the next generation.”

Gill, 25, is the son of immigrants who are physicians but also own a 1,000-acre cherry farm and vineyard, an RV park and other business interests; he finished his Cal law degree earlier this year. He said he’s honored by the Farm Bureau’s endorsement: “I look forward to standing up for our farmers and ranchers so they can create jobs right here in the 9th District, where my family has been farming for 30 years.”

The California Farm Bureau Federation protects agricultural interests for more than 74,000 members statewide.

Would McNerney liked to have had this endorsement? Certainly.

Was he likely to get it? Some Democrats have won the California Farm Bureau Federation’s nod, including Dianne Feinstein, Mike Thompson and Jim Costa, but McNerney’s votes haven’t been so popular.

Is he lost without it? No. The Farm Bureau can be a powerful Central Valley force, but the 9th District isn’t its very strongest province: Stockton, entirely within the district, is urban and firmly Democratic. In the 2001 bipartisan gerrymander of the Central Valley, as Democrats sought to make then-Rep. Gary Condit’s seat safe for any Democrat except the ag-popular but scandal-ridden Condit, it was accomplished by redrawing the district to include Stockton. Farming interests are powerful in the district, but not all-powerful.

Posted on Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Agriculture, Jerry McNerney, U.S. House, water | 2 Comments »