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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 »

STOP READING THIS BLOG AND GO VOTE!!!

It’s Election Day – get out there and vote, if you haven’t already!

California’s polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If you haven’t put your vote-by-mail ballot in the mail yet, DON’T – it won’t be counted unless it reaches the registrar’s office by 8 p.m. tonight, and postmarks don’t matter. You can drop it off by hand at any polling place in your county, or at the registrar’s office; don’t forget to sign the outside of the envelope.

If you have any questions about your ballot, your polling place or anything else having to do with this election, contact your county registrar:

Alameda County, www.acgov.org/rov, 510-267-8683
Contra Costa County, www.cocovote.us, 925-335-7800
Marin County, www.marinvotes.org, 415-473-6456
Monterey County, www.montereycountyelections.us, 831-796-1499
Napa County, www.countyofnapa.org/Elections, 707-253-4321
San Francisco, www.sfgov2.org/index.aspx?page=599, 415-554-4375
San Joaquin County, www.sjcrov.org, 209-468-2885
San Mateo County, www.shapethefuture.org, 650-312-5222
Santa Clara County, www.sccvote.org, 408-299-8683
Santa Cruz County, www.votescount.com, 831-454-2060
Solano County, www.solanocounty.com/depts/rov, 707-784-6675
Sonoma County, vote.sonoma-county.org, 707-565-6800

To report election fraud, call the California Secretary of State Office‘s voter hotline: 800-345-8683

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 | 7 Comments »

Git up off yer duff and register to vote

This Monday, May 21, is the last day to register to vote in the June 5 primary election.

To be eligible to register, a person must be a U.S. Citizen; at least 18 years old on Election Day; not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction; and not deemed by a court to be mentally incompetent to register and to vote. Also, registered voters must re-register whenever they have moved to a new address, changed their name, or want to change political party affiliation.

Voter registration cards are available at county elections offices (Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz); U.S. Post Offices; and the Department of Motor Vehicles, or online from the Secretary of State’s office. They must be signed and submitted in person or by mail; a mailed registration card postmarked Monday will satisfy the deadline.

There is one exception to the deadline: Under new state law, people who obtain their U.S. citizenship after today can register and vote right up until the polls close on June 5.

Posted on Thursday, May 17th, 2012
Under: 2012 Assembly election, 2012 Congressional Election, 2012 presidential election, 2012 primary election, 2012 State Senate election, 2012 U.S. Senate election, voter registration | 1 Comment »

Judge poised to nix attack on ‘top-two’ primary

California can proceed with its new “top-two” primary system, an East Bay judge tentatively ruled today, sustaining the state’s objection to a lawsuit filed by a group of minor parties and their voters.

In his tentative ruling, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Appel said the arguments made in the lawsuit filed last fall are the same ones that failed to convince the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court that Washington’s version of the law should be overturned.

A hearing on the tentative ruling is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday in Oakland.

The lawsuit, filed in November on behalf of the Green Party of Alameda County, the Libertarian Party of California, the Peace and Freedom Party of California and eight minor-party voters, argues Prop. 14 “effectively denies voters their fundamental right of choice by precluding small party candidates from the general election ballot,” thus violating the First and 14th amendments.

The general election is “the moment when the highest number of voters are engaged in the electoral process,” the suit says, and so the new law severely burdens voters’, candidates’ and parties’ rights without any compelling or even significant state interest.

But Appel wrote Monday that unless the plaintiffs can amend their complaint in the next few weeks to present new arguments, the system will stand.

Appel said the first part of the lawsuit seems to be a “facial challenge” to Prop. 14 – challenging the general framework – rather than an “as applied” challenge that questions some manner in which the new law is being implemented in a discriminatory or unreasonable way.

But the 9th Circuit earlier this year “considered and rejected the same broad challenge” that the plaintiffs are making in this case, the judge wrote. “Among other things, the Court held that ‘because [the law] gives major- and minor-party candidates equal access to the primary and general election ballots, it does not give the “established parties a decided advantage over any new parties struggling for existence.”’”

Arguing that participation in the general election isn’t equivalent to participation in the primary election; that general-election ballot access is essential for minor parties seeking to qualify in future elections; and that California doesn’t have sufficient regulatory interests to impose this new system “are legal assertions that are inconsistent” with the 9th Circuit’s ruling in the Washington case, Appel wrote.

And Appel wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008 held that a statute like Washington’s – and now, like Prop. 14 – that allows an open primary in which candidates identify themselves on the ballot by a self-designated party preference doesn’t unconstitutionally interfere with a political party’s rights of association or speech.

Michael Siegel, the plaintiffs’ attorney, said Monday he’s disappointed that Appel deferred to a 9th Circuit ruling that the plaintiffs have argued was in error. “Big picture, this is something that needs to get sorted out at a higher level, either at the California Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court,” Siegel said.

Siegel acknowledged that even if he were to convince Appel at tomorrow’s hearing to completely reverse this tentative ruling, “nothing could be done in terms of the June election, but something could be done for November” – that is, if the court struck down the top-two system, it could let minor parties hold conventions this summer or fall to nominate candidates for addition to the general-election ballot.

But given Appel’s tentative ruling, Siegel said, “practically speaking, what’s really at stake now is 2014.”

UPDATE @ 4:06 P.M. TUESDAY: Appel heard arguments on his tentative ruling this morning and took the case under submission; he’ll probably file a permanent order – most likely along the lines of his tentative ruling – in the next few days. The next hearing in the case has been scheduled for July 10.

Posted on Monday, April 9th, 2012
Under: 2012 Assembly election, 2012 Congressional Election, 2012 primary election, 2012 State Senate election, 2012 U.S. Senate election | 14 Comments »

State GOP endorses Emken for U.S. Senate

The California Republican Party today endorsed Elizabeth Emken of Danville over several other GOP contenders to unseat U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Elizabeth Emken“This was a humbling experience and a tremendous honor to receive the unanimous support of the board,” she said Monday. “I’m looking forward to the challenge ahead, as well as working in partnership with the CRP as we head toward victory together.”

As many as half a dozen other Republicans are in the race against Feinstein, including Oceanside businessman Dan Hughes and Santa Monica businessman Al Ramirez.

Chris Mann, Ramirez’ campaign manager, said his camp is “disappointed that the Board of the California Republican Party voted to support a candidate we believe cannot be successful against Feinstein. Fortunately this race will be decided by the voters, not the GOP establishment.” He said Ramirez is best-positioned to appeal to Latinos and independents, which will be crucial blocs in order to beat Feinstein.

The party in the past hasn’t made primary election endorsements, but state’s new “top-two” primary system necessitated a change. In this system, all voters choose from among all candidates regardless of party, and the top two vote getters advance to November’s general election – even if they’re of the same party.

State GOP leaders met yesterday in Burbank to consider how county committees had judged races all over the state, and then voted on decisions of their own. A list of endorsements in races all over the state was released Monday morning.

“As the Party prepares to be a vigorous contender in California’s first top two primary, we seek to promote the most competitive candidates in the field this primary season,” state GOP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said in a news release. “As Chairman, I am very pleased with the level of thoughtful participation from around the state. It was an encouraging prelude to an invigorated Party getting ready for this important election year.”

Absent from the endorsement list was the 3rd Congressional District, where three Republicans are vying to unseat Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove. Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann has been named a “Young Gun” by the National Republican Congressional Committee, but neither she nor either of the other two Republicans in that race – Eugene Ray and Rick Tubbs – got a nod today from the state party.

Ricky Gill, another NRCC “Young Gun” in Northern California, did get the state party’s endorsement in his bid to unseat Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, in the 9th Congressional District; Republican John McDonald also is in that race.

Gill said Monday he’s “proud to have earned the endorsement of the California Republican Party and of all three county parties in the 9th Congressional District. I also know, however, that our task is just beginning, and I’ll keep working hard to ensure our Valley and Delta communities send a truly local voice to Congress in 2012.”

The party also made no endorsements in the 18th Assembly District, where Republican Rhonda Weber is running, or in the 20th District, where Republican Luis Reynoso is running. However, Mike Hudson did get the state party’s endorsement in the 11th Assembly District, and Al Philips got it in the 16th Assembly District.

Posted on Monday, March 12th, 2012
Under: 2012 Assembly election, 2012 Congressional Election, 2012 State Senate election, 2012 U.S. Senate election, Dianne Feinstein, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Republican Party, Republican politics, U.S. House, U.S. Senate | 2 Comments »

GOP candidates sign up for ‘Trailblazer’ program

As House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, prepares to take the podium at the California Republican Party convention’s banquet in Bakersfield, a news release has just gone out announcing that 33 GOP candidates have enrolled in his “California Trailblazers” legislative recruitment, training and advisement program.

The program is modeled on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program McCarthy founded for House candidates.

“As Republicans we see this election as an opportunity to embark on an economic comeback for both America and California,” McCarthy said in the news release. “Also, as Republicans we’re ready to begin the California Republican comeback. I believe that the Trailblazers program is essential to this effort. The Trailblazers program will work to find and give needed resources to principled reform-minded Republicans who are ready to bring fiscal discipline back to Sacramento, and economic growth and job creation back to California. I am proud to be a part of this effort.”

State Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff said in the release that the threat of a Democratic super-majority makes it “more important than ever to put our best team on the field this November. The rigorous training these candidates will go through will prepare them to win and fight for a fiscally conservative agenda in Sacramento.”

And Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway called it “a terrific way to train Republicans to become stronger candidates and arrive in Sacramento ready to lead”

Once candidates meet campaign infrastructure, grassroots support, fundraising and other metrics specific to their races, they will advance to “Pathfinder,” “Rising Star,” and ultimately “Trailblazer.” The program also will provide ongoing education through fundraisers, coalition-building experts, media training and issue briefings. A preliminary campaign college for candidates was held in December, California Trailblazers in April will announce the candidates who have graduated to “Pathfinder” status.

Posted on Friday, February 24th, 2012
Under: 2012 Assembly election, 2012 State Senate election, Assembly, California State Senate, Connie Conway | 2 Comments »

Early cash winners emerge in East Bay races

The money race in East Bay state legislative contests reveals a handful of early leaders in the open seats, according to campaign finance reports filed this week.

Democrat and Oakley Mayor Jim Frazier, one of five declared candidates in the new open Assembly District 11 seat, substantially out-raised his opponents by threefold as of Dec. 31, 2011, the end of the last reporting period.

In Assembly District 18, the new western Alameda County seat, Alameda Councilman Rob Bonta and AC Transit board member Joel Young, both Democrats, reported similar numbers and outpaced the other two declared candidates.

In Assembly District 20, which includes Union City and San Leandro, Democrat and Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk has a large financial lead but largely due to a personal loan.

Savvy observers will rightly note that the filing period doesn’t open until Feb. 13 but the most successful candidates are often those who get an early start and  lock down contributions and endorsements.

Here’s a cash rundown for East Bay state legislative candidates:

Assembly District 11: New district in east Contra Costa County and large swath of  Solano County

  • Jim Frazier, Democrat and Oakley mayor: $109,709 in total contributions; $97,874 cash in the bank; and loans of $2,500.
  • Patricia Hernandez,  Democrat and chief negotiator at Union of American Dentists and Physicians, Rio Vista: $38,050 in total contributions; $30,349 cash in the bank; and no loans.
  • Gene Gantt, Democrat and retired fire chief, Benicia: $29,404 in total contributions; $28,510 cash in the bank; and no loans.
  • Len Augustine, independent and former Vacaville councilman: No filing.
  • Mike Hudson, Republican and Suisun City councilman: No filing.

Assembly District 14

  • Susan Bonilla, Democratic incumbent, Concord: $211,666 in total contributions; $40,735 in the bank; no loans.

Assembly District 15

  • Nancy Skinner, Democratic incumbent, Berkeley: $358,626 in total contributions; $400,066 in the bank; and no loans.

Assembly District 16

  • Joan Buchanan, Democratic incumbent, Alamo: $101,500 in total contributions; $7,188 in the bank; loans unpaid from 2008 campaign of $100,000.
  • David Haubert, Republican and Dublin Unified School District trustee: $46,624 in total contributions, $42,601 in the bank; no loans.

Assembly District 18 (New open seat in western Alameda County including Oakland, Alameda, San Leandro.)

  • Rob Bonta, Democrat and Alameda councilman: $161,883 in total contributions; $132,239 in the bank; and loans of $7,500.
  • Abel Guillen, Democratic and Peralta Community College District Trustee: $118,584 in total contributions; $107,040 in the bank; loans of $13,650.
  • Kathy Neal, Democrat and Alameda County Democratic Central Committee member: $47,029 in contributions; $30,946 in the bank; and loans of $4,750.
  • Joel Young, Democrat and AC Transit District board member: $154,078 in total contributions; $171,827 in the bank; and loans of $50,000.

Assembly District 20 (open)

  • Sarabjit Cheema, Democrat and New Haven Unified School District trustee: No filing.
  • Mark Green, independent and Union City councilman: No filing.
  • Jennifer Ong, Democrat and eye doctor, San Leandro: $126,892 in total contributions; $93,734 in the bank; loans of $48,100.
  • Bill Quirk, Democrat and Hayward councilman: $170,156 in total contributions; $134,717 in the bank; and personal loan of $96,000.

State Senate District 7

  • Mark DeSaulnier, Democratic incumbent, Concord: $269,760 in total contributions; $217,754 in the bank; no loans.

State Senate District 9

  • Loni Hancock, Democratic incumbent, Berkeley: $335,174 in total contributions; $272,377 in the bank; no loans.

Posted on Thursday, February 2nd, 2012
Under: 2012 Assembly election, 2012 State Senate election, campaign finance | No Comments »

Labor endorsement goes to Loni Hancock

As a battle for a state Senate seat between like-minded, labor-friendly Democrats takes off in the East Bay, a significant labor organization has cast its lot with the incumbent.

The Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council today announced its endorsement of state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, for re-election in the 9th State Senate District. Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, who’s term-limited out of the Assembly next year, has indicated he’s likely to challenge her.

“Senator Hancock is committed to putting people to work in the Bay Area and ensuring that these jobs are good union jobs with living wages, health benefits and a pension to retire on with dignity,” council director Greg Feere said. “Her leadership has been vital on important projects like the bay bridge reconstruction and the fourth bore of the Caldecott tunnel. These projects have produced thousands of local jobs and we look forward to continue working with her in the State Senate.”

The council, with 28 affiliated local unions, handles everything from worker safety and permit discussions to union meetings and other issues centered around the trades. Hancock said she appreciates the endorsement: “I have worked side-by-side with them throughout my years of services to keep jobs in the Bay Area and I look forward to our continued work together in the future.”

Hancock’s campaign received a $6,800 contribution in early August from the State Building and Contruction Trades Council of California’s PAC.

Hancock and Swanson have a lot in common policy-wise, and trade unions have been the biggest bloc of campaign contributors to both. They’re facing off under new conditions: The 9th State Senate District used to start with Albany and Berkeley at the north end, sweep down through Oakland and Alameda and then out through Castro Valley to grab Dublin and Livermore. Newly drawn in redistricting, it now starts in Rodeo and includes all the Western Contra Costa County cities as well as Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland, Piedmont and San Leandro — a more compact, more urban district.

And next June’s will be California’s first regular primary election using the “top two” system, in which candidates of all parties compete on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party affiliation, advance to the general election. Given the district’s overwhelmingly Democratic registration, it’s easy to imagine two Democrats being the only options on the district’s November 2012 ballot.

Posted on Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
Under: 2012 State Senate election, Assembly, California State Senate, Labor politics, Loni Hancock, Sandre Swanson | 1 Comment »

Lois Wolk hopes to represent Contra Costa cities

State Senator Lois Wolk, D-Davis, confirmed today that she’ll seek a second four-year term in the newly drawn 3rd State Senate District, including much of her current 5th District in Yolo and Solano Counties but grabbing Napa County, parts of Sonoma and several Contra Costa County communities.

She issued a news release applauding the California Citizens Redistricting Commission’s work, and saying it “correctly recognized these counties and cities have a great deal in common. It may not be perfect, but it makes sense. The new 3rd District is a natural fit with the communities I currently represent and the issues that have been my primary focus while in the Legislature. I would be honored to represent every one of these constituents, new and old.”

Wolk gains the Contra Costa County communities of Crockett, Port Costa, Martinez, and Pleasant Hill; they used to be part of the 7th State Senate District, now represented by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord.

“The only downside of the new plan is that I will no longer get to represent San Joaquin County, including the City of Stockton, where I have worked hard to build partnerships with local elected officials and constituents,” she said. “Those constituents can rest assured I will continue to represent them vigorously until they elect my replacement, who I hope will be Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, who has declared her intentions to seek the seat.”

“I will also make efforts to get to know the new communities, meet everyone I can and listen to their issues,” Wolk said.

Wolk also announced early endorsements from Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez; Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena; and state Senator Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa.

“It’s been my privilege to work with Senator Lois Wolk on Delta and statewide water issues,” Miller said in Wolk’s release. “I know when the people of northern Contra Costa County get to know Lois, they will join me in supporting her to represent us in the State Senate.”

Wolk won her current 5th District seat in 2008 by defeating Republican nominee Greg Aghazarian, 65 percent to 35 percent; she now chairs the Senate Governance and Finance Committee. Earlier, she represented the 8th Assembly District from 2002 to 2008.

I don’t see that any other person living within the bounds of the new 3rd District has filed a statement of intention to seek the seat next year, but of course, that could change.

Posted on Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
Under: 2012 State Senate election, California State Senate, Lois Wolk, redistricting | 3 Comments »