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CA17: Tammy Duckworth coming to Honda’s aid

War hero Rep. Tammy Duckworth will visit Silicon Valley on Friday to do a veteran’s roundtable and some phone-banking for Rep. Mike Honda’s re-election campaign.

Tammy DuckworthHonda, D-San Jose, and Duckworth, D-Ill., have worked together since 2006 when Honda supported her first race for Congress. Then and in 2012, Honda attended events in her district and helped her raise funds nationwide; now she’s returning the favor, as Honda faces challenges from fellow Democrat Ro Khanna, Republican Vanila Singh and Republican Joel Vanlandingham.

The two House members will hold a one-hour roundtable with local veterans at 4 p.m. Friday in Honda’s campaign headquarters, in the SEIU building at 2302 Zanker Road in San Jose; after that, Duckworth will join campaign volunteers to work the phones for an hour.

Duckworth was a National Guard captain serving in Iraq in 2004 when the Black Hawk helicopter she was piloting was hit by an rocket-propelled grenade; she lost both legs and partial use of her right arm. She has since served as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and as an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; she remains a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard, and now serves on the House Armed Services and the Government & Oversight committees.

Honda’s campaign said he has worked to increase funding for veterans’ health care services and for college scholarships for returning veterans, including $2.8 million in grants for homeless and at-risk veterans in his district that he helped secure last year. He also played a role in seeking compensation and recognition for Filipino-American veterans who served in World War II.

Khanna is keeping up his breakneck pace this week by speaking to Santa Clara University law students on Wednesday; serving as a panelist at the Latinos Information Technology and Science Association conference in Redwood City and then canvassing in Sunnyvale on Thursday; giving an inaugural address and taking part in a panel discussion at the Indian Institute of Management conference at Google in Mountain View before doing a Sunnyvale neighborhood meet-and-greet Saturday; and then doing neighborhood meet-and-greets in Sunnyvale and Cupertino on Sunday.

And, as previously reported here, Singh is holding a happy hour from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at C&J’s Sports Bar, 1550 Lafayette St. in Santa Clara, and then will hold a campaign kickoff at 10 a.m. Saturday at her headquarters, 1313 N. Milpitas Blvd. Suite 215, in Milpitas.

Posted on Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House, veterans | 6 Comments »

CA15: Swalwell launches first TV ad

Freshman Rep. Eric Swalwell will launch his re-election campaign’s first television advertisement Wednesday.

“It starts tomorrow and we’re not going to go dark – it’ll stay on through the duration of the campaign,” Swalwell campaign consultant Lisa Tucker said Tuesday, adding it’s a six-figure buy on local cable channels.

So Swalwell, D-Dublin, is bringing his significant fundraising edge to bear. Meanwhile, his Democratic challenger, state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, is keeping her profile high with official events in her district.

Last week, she held a “walking town hall” with constituents at the Sunol-Ohlone Regional Wilderness and hosted a summit on sexual assaults on college campuses at CSU-East Bay in Hayward. This Friday, Corbett will hold a news conference in San Leandro touting her two bills – SB 894 and SB 895 – to reform oversight of assisted living facilities, in response to the fiasco at Castro Valley’s Valley Springs Manor last fall.

Republican candidate Hugh Bussell, the Alameda County GOP vice chairman from Livermore, will attend the county GOP’s leadership dinner on Friday, May 2 in Pleasanton, along with Republican candidates including gubernatorial contender Neel Kashkari.

Posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

CA17: Honda’s busy schedule of local events

With six weeks to go before June’s primary election, Rep. Mike Honda is keeping his profile high in his 17th Congressional District with a busy schedule of official events.

Honda, D-San Jose, is making the best of his seven-term incumbent bully pulpit as challengers Ro Khanna and Vanila Singh step up the pace of their campaigns.

honda.jpgOn Tuesday evening, Honda will visit the Bill Wilson Center in San Jose to talk with several young homeless people with mental-health issues who are part of the center’s Transition Age Youth program. “It is crucial that we understand the needs and challenges facing homeless youth here in Silicon Valley,” he said in a news release. “We live in an area of great opportunity, and we are obligated to ensure that opportunity is available for all residents of Silicon Valley.”

On Wednesday, Honda will give the keynote address at the Housing Trust Silicon Valley‘s investor briefing in Santa Clara, speaking to more than 400 business leaders, Housing Trust partners, housing industry professionals, community partners, and the general public about the importance of affordable housing for businesses, workers and low-income residents.

On Thursday morning, Honda will join local elected officials, community leaders and public health officials in San Jose to announce the launch of a bus ad campaign urging Chinese- and Vietnamese-American residents to get tested for hepatitis B. The Asian American Pacific Islander community accounts for over half of all chronic hepatitis B cases, and half of the deaths related to hepatitis B; Honda will discuss how Congress is working to address and eradicate hepatitis, including the work of the bipartisan Congressional Hepatitis Caucus, which he founded and co-chairs.

Last week, Honda held a news conference in San Jose to announce his introduction of H.R. 4460, the Freedom of Faith Act, which would make permanent the immigrant provision for religious workers who are non-ministers; the current religious workers program will expire in 2015. “For over two decades, Congress has reauthorized this program time and time again,” he said. “It’s time we do what’s right for our communities of faith and make permanent this program that allows workers who lead worship, officiate events, and offer pastoral care, to receive temporary visas like ministers and faith leaders do.”

Honda also last week gave the opening address at the San Francisco Bay Area Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Nanotechnology Council’s 10th Anniversary symposium in Santa Clara, discussing the continuing importance of nanotech in our economy, as well as his role in enacting the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act. The law, of which Honda was an original co-sponsor, first authorized $4 billion in federal spending over 4 years for the National Nanotechnology Initiative in 2003.

Posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | No Comments »

Neel Kashkari rolls out his education plan

State funding would be routed directly to schools so principals, teachers and parents can spend it as they see fit while much of California’s Education Code would be eliminated under a plan unveiled Tuesday by Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari.

NEEL KASHKARIThe education reform legislation that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last summer was called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), so perhaps Californians can think of Kashkari’s plan as EMLCFF: Even More Local Control Funding Formula.

Handing over the purse-strings to local educators and families would let them adopt new priorities and methods – perhaps including increased vocational training and lengthening the school day and academic year – even as they’re held to strict accountability standards, Kashkari says. He also wants charter schools to have the same level of funding and facilities as traditional schools, and would eliminate the cap that limits California to 100 new charter schools per year.

For higher education, Kashkari wants to tie state funding to campuses’ success rates – as measured by credits accumulated, students retained, courses completed and degrees awarded – while putting more UC and CSU courses online and offering free tuition to science, technology, engineering and math students in exchange for a cut of their future earnings.

Kashkari’s education plan, which he’s rolling out Tuesday morning at Central City Value High School in Los Angeles, is a cornerstone of a campaign he launched in January with the slogan, “Jobs and Education. That’s It.” The former Treasury Department official and asset manager from Laguna Beach says California’s schools rank 46th in the nation in reading and math, with a huge achievement gap leaving low-income kids wanting for an adequate education.

“California used to boast one of the best education systems in the nation, and we do know how to fix our schools,” Kashkari said. “States around the country have implemented bold reforms that can help improve educational outcomes for our students, both in our K-12 schools and in our institutions of higher education.”

Yet Gov. Jerry Brown “continues to pursue superficial measures that treat only symptoms instead of undertaking bold education reforms that will help lift student achievement and rebuild the middle class,” Kashkari accused.

Brown last year signed the LCFF legislation that changes the state funding formula for K-12 schools in a way that he hopes will help boost disadvantaged students’ academic achievement. It will send $2.1 billion more to school districts with high numbers of students who are from lower-income families, who have limited English proficiency, or who are foster children.

More, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, education, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Neel Kashkari | No Comments »

CA17: Singh & Khanna campaigns step it up

Watch for Republican candidate Vanila Singh to step up her 17th Congressional District campaign significantly in the next few weeks.

Vanila SinghI had coffee today with Matt Shupe, who took over as Singh’s campaign manager at the start of this month. Shupe formerly was executive director of the San Francisco Republican Party, working for county chairwoman and state GOP Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon; before that, he served three months as deputy manager of Andy Vidak’s successful state Senate campaign in early 2013 and has run or helped build several other campaigns.

Shupe, 29, brings a network of contacts from those campaigns and from his leadership roles with the California College Republicans that he says “can rapidly accelerate the growth of an operation,” he said. That’s what he intends to do for Singh – a speedy ramp-up using volunteers from all over the Bay Area to bolster Singh’s bid to unseat Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose.

It’s not as if they have much else to do. Shupe said Bay Area Republicans really only have two competitive races – this one, and Dublin attorney Catharine Baker’s run against three Democrats in the 16th Assembly District. “So I’m able to suck up a lot of the talent,” he said, adding his volunteer roster keeps growing. “Right now I’d say our list is in the hundreds.”

Meanwhile, Democratic challenger Ro Khanna and his staff and volunteers will celebrate the opening of his campaign’s Cupertino field office from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at 20111 Stevens Creek Blvd., Suite 130. The campaign’s headquarters is in Fremont, but this office will be a hub for grassroots efforts in Cupertino and Sunnyvale. Cupertino council members Orrin Mahoney and Rod Sinks are expected to attend the event.

Khanna’s staff is touting his social media progress – now at 10,398 Facebook likes and 1,778 Twitter followers, compared to Honda’s 4,182 likes and 785 Twitter followers or Singh’s 1,064 Facebook likes and 280 Twitter followers. But social media only go so far, and Khanna’s campaign is maintaining a full schedule of neighborhood canvasses and phone banks.

Singh is holding a happy hour from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Thursday, April 24 at C&J’s Sports Bar, 1550 Lafayette St. in Santa Clara, and then will hold a campaign kickoff at 10 a.m. Saturday at her headquarters, 1313 N. Milpitas Blvd. Suite 215, in Milpitas.

Shupe said he has seen a hunger from the 17th District’s GOP voters: “You can tell that Republicans in this district have never really been campaigned to in many years.”

And Singh has the resources to sate that hunger, he said, having raised more money than any other Republican candidate in the Bay Area; she had about $300,000 cash on hand at the start of this month.

“She’s definitely a pragmatic, reasonable, non-Tea-Party candidate, so we believe she can connect uniquely to the district,” he said. “This is voter contact, get-out-the-vote campaigning from here to Election Day.”

Shupe acknowledged it’s an uphill battle in a district that’s registered 44 percent Democrat, 19 percent Republican and 32 percent nonpartisan. But a poll conducted in February by Honda’s liberal allies had found Singh – who had entered the race at the end of December – already a few points ahead of Khanna, almost certainly by dint of being the only Republican in the field at the time.

That’s a strong base on which to build, Shupe said, and while the goal is to win, the journey might be as important as the destination if Singh can make significant inroads within the South Bay Indo-American community of which she’s a lifelong member. “It’s definitely party building,” Shupe said.

Singh so far has refused to take part in any candidate forums or debates. Shupe said she won’t participate in any event that doesn’t include Honda or that does include the other Republican candidate, Joel Vanlandingham, whom she believes was recruited into the race by Khanna supporters in order to split the GOP vote. “He’s really degrading the election, I think.”

Posted on Monday, April 21st, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 35 Comments »

CA17: Khanna & Honda argue over campaign $$$

Rep. Mike Honda and Democratic challenger Ro Khanna got into another dustup over each other’s campaign contributions Wednesday, while a new report filed with the Federal Election Commission shows Republican challenger Vanila Singh gave her campaign a hefty loan.

PG&EKhanna says Honda, D-San Jose, should give back all the money he has ever received from PG&E’s political action committee because the energy utility now has been indicted on criminal charges related to 2010’s devastating gas explosion in San Bruno. But Honda’s campaign said Khanna should walk his talk by refunding money to contributors who say he pulled a bait-and-switch on them.

Honda raised $679,470.91 in the first quarter, and had $1,083,690.92 cash on hand and $22,472.21 in debts as of March 31. Khanna raised $464,220, and had $1,946,871.19 cash on hand and $93,613.53 in debts. As previously reported here, this is the first quarter in which Honda has outraised Khanna in this 17th Congressional District race.

Higher percentages of Khanna’s contributions came from California, and from Northern California in particular, than those of Honda’s, though that’s not surprising given Honda’s seven terms in Congress.

Singh raised $138,860 and loaned her campaign $74,000 in the first quarter, and as of March 31 had $300,422 cash on hand and $79,000 in debts including that loan. Among contributions she received was $2,000 each from the campaigns of Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, and $1,000 from the campaign of Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md. Sessions – former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee – co-hosted Singh’s meet-and-greet with Republican doctors at last month’s state GOP convention; Burgess and Harris are doctors.

Republican Joel Vanlandingham has said he doesn’t plan to accept contributions.

Khanna issued a news release Wednesday announcing he sent a letter to Honda that notes Honda has accepted $28,000 from the PG&E PAC during his 14 years in Congress, including $6,500 in the past two cycles since the San Bruno blast; the latest contribution was $1,000 on March 21.

“In light of last week’s federal criminal indictment, I am asking you to return the tens of thousands of dollars in PAC contributions you have received from PG&E,” Khanna wrote, also urging Honda to join him in demanding that PG&E reveal which people within the company were responsible for the actions and decisions leading to the crimes alleged in the indictment. “I believe such steps are necessary to demonstrate to your constituents that you put the rights and safety of California consumers ahead of corporate PAC contributions.”

PG&E regularly gives money to House members on both sides of the aisle. In fact, the only Bay Area member who seems not to have received a contribution from the company’s PAC in this cycle is Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, in whose district the San Bruno blast occurred and who has been hard on the company ever since.

“Congressman Honda has confidence in the U.S. Attorneys prosecuting the case against PG&E, and expects that justice will be served,” Honda campaign spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said Wednesday. “If Ro Khanna wants to talk about refunds, he can start by explaining why he isn’t refunding the thousands in contributions being demanded by his own donors.”

Indeed, a few people who contributed to Khanna’s campaign in late 2011 – when everyone thought he would run to succeed then-Rep. Pete Stark in the 15th District – asked for their money back this January, saying they don’t want it spent against Honda. Khanna campaign manager Leah Cowan on Jan. 14 said it would be “impractical” to return contributions made more than two years earlier. But that’s exactly what Khanna’s campaign had done just a day earlier, his FEC report shows: The campaign on Jan. 13 refunded $2,500 to Carl Page of Palo Alto, who had contributed that amount in November 2011.

Khanna spokesman Tyler Law replied, “None of Ro’s past or current contributors is under federal criminal indictment for putting the public safety at risk.”

Meanwhile, amid all the national buzz about Khanna’s well-funded Democratic insurgent campaign, the latest FEC report gives a clearer picture of how that big bankroll is being spent. Details, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 8 Comments »

CA15: Swalwell’s & Corbett’s Q1 fundraising

Rep. Eric Swalwell raised more than eight times as much as his challenger and fellow Democrat state Sen. Ellen Corbett in this year’s first quarter, and had about four and a half times as much money banked as of March 31, according to new reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Meanwhile, a Republican who got into this 15th Congressional District race at the last minute is funded only by himself and by one of the state’s biggest GOP benefactors.

Swalwell, D-Dublin, raised $272,783.87 from Jan. 1 through March 31, and at the end of that period had $922,581.82 cash on hand with $6,859.82 in outstanding debt. Corbett in the same time raised $32,485.33, finishing with $208,005.35 cash on hand and $6,000 in debt; that’s right about where Corbett was at the end of 2014, though she had raised almost three times as much in last year’s final quarter.

Hugh Bussell, a GOP county committeeman from Livermore, lent his campaign $1,750 and took a $2,400 contribution from Charles Munger Jr. of Palo Alto, chairman of the Santa Clara County GOP and a prolific contributor to the party’s causes and candidates.

Posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 18 Comments »

CA17: Khanna’s second TV ad touts jobs plan

Congressional candidate Ro Khanna launched his second television ad Monday, highlighting the seven-point jobs plan he rolled out in February.

A news release said the ad “will begin airing widely” throughout the 17th Congressional District; spokesman Tyler Law wouldn’t specify the nature, duration or cost of the ad buy, except to say it’s “significant and open-ended.”

“Ro has centered his campaign on forward-looking ideas to grow the economy and create good paying jobs for families here in the 17th district,” campaign manager Leah Cowan said in the news release. “That’s why he is the only candidate to introduce a comprehensive jobs plan that recognizes the importance of improving education to transform the economy. Ro knows that we have incredible potential here in Silicon Valley and across the country, but he also understands that we can’t move the economy forward without fixing a badly broken Congress.”

Khanna, a former Obama administration official from Fremont, is challenging fellow Democrat Rep. Mike Honda of San Jose; Republicans Vanila Singh and Joel Vanlandingham also are in the race.

Khanna’s first TV ad, touching on Americans’ frustration with Congress and special interests, began airing March 25.

Posted on Monday, April 14th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 13 Comments »

CA15: California Labor Federation backs Corbett

It’s not so often that the California Democratic Party and the California Labor Federation end up on different sides of a Bay Area House race.

Ellen CorbettThe labor federation – made up of more than 1,200 AFL-CIO and Change to Win unions representing 2.1 million members – announced Thursday that it has endorsed state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, in the 15th Congressional District

The party endorsed incumbent Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, last month. Republican Hugh Bussell of Livermore also is in the race.

The labor federation announced this and dozens of other endorsements as its biennial pre-primary convention finished up in Oakland. In a news release, the federation said the endorsements are “the launching pad for the massive grassroots voter outreach efforts that will activate tens of thousands of volunteers from now until Election Day.”

Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski said the labor federation’s power “derives from workers coming together on nights and weekends to talk to friends, neighbors and co-workers about the importance of this year’s election. What our grassroots efforts lack in money we more than make up for in face-to-face voter engagement.”

That’s key for Corbett, who very much needs some institutional support to augment her campaign’s meager bankroll. Swalwell’s campaign started 2014 with four times as much money in the bank; consultant Lisa Tucker this week said he raised about $270,000 in this year’s first quarter, and had around $920,000 cash on hand as of March 31. Corbett has not yet disclosed her first-quarter fundraising; the deadline to do so is next Tuesday April 15.

Tucker said Swalwell was on a plane coming back from Washington, D.C., on Thursday afternoon, and she didn’t want to comment on the labor federation’s choice without speaking with him first.

Swalwell, Corbett and Bussell will share a stage for the first time at a League of Women Voters candidates’ forum at 6:30 p.m. next Tuesday, April 15 in the Castro Valley Library, 3600 Norbridge Ave.

From the “no surprise” desk: The labor federation endorsed longtime friend to labor Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, in his bid for an eighth term, over Democratic challenger Ro Khanna and two Republicans in the 17th Congressional District.

In races for some of the Bay Area’s open legislative seats, the labor federation endorsed Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, in the 10th State Senate District; Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti in the 16th Assembly District; San Jose Councilman Kansen Chu in the 25th Assembly District; and Campbell Councilman Evan Low in the 28th Assembly District. The federation made a dual endorsement in the crowded 15th Assembly District race, backing both Elizabeth Echols and Tony Thurmond over three more Democrats and three additional candidates.

Posted on Thursday, April 10th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 2 Comments »

Don’t like the poll results? Too bad.

Whenever we do a poll story, I’m a bit amazed at the vitriol and ignorance in some of the comments.

That holds true for my story in Tuesday’s editions about a Field Poll showing President Obama’s relative popularity in California, and Jessica Calefati’s story in Wednesday’s editions about how Gov. Jerry Brown is trouncing his challengers. Let me clear up a few misconceptions (or intentional misstatements):

1.) IT’S NOT OUR POLL

In the comments on Jessica’s story, RobThom wrote “The lib media loves polls, because you can get a poll to say anything you want.”

Except the “lib media” didn’t conduct the poll. Bay Area News Group doesn’t do its own polls on these issues, and we generally only write stories about California polls conducted by nonpartisan organizations of the highest reputation, such as Field Research, the Public Policy Institute of California and occasionally the University of Southern California/Los Angeles Times. We receive the same poll results as every other media outlet – even Fox News!

Lest you think the poll questions were biased, the Obama question was “Overall, do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as President?” And here’s how the gubernatorial election question was phrased:

The upcoming June statewide election will be an open primary. This means that candidates from all parties – Democrats, Republicans and others – will be listed together on one ballot and voters can chose to vote for a candidate from any party or affiliation. I am going to read the names of some of the likely candidates for Governor in the June open primary election and please tell me who you would be your first choice if the election were being held today. Suppose the candidates were (CANDIDATES READ IN RANDOM ORDER) Who would be your first choice for Governor? (REPEAT IF NECESSARY)

2.) IT DOESN’T MATTER IF THE POLL DIDN’T CALL YOU

In the comments on my story, Tamara Lynn wrote, “They didn’t poll me…. In my generalized poll while speaking with friends, family and social media.. Obummer isn’t favored at all! Once again the merc printing only what it wants.. Stupid is as stupid does.”

Tamara apparently doesn’t know what a poll is – the only poll that surveys every registered voter is called an election. Field surveyed 1,000 Californians randomly selected from the state’s voter rolls. At last count, California had 17,660,257 registered voters, so Tamara had a 1-in-17,660 chance of getting called. Even with Field polling on Obama’s approval rating about four times a year, I’d advise her not to hold her breath. And of course her friends, family and social media say otherwise – that’s a self-selecting community of like-minded individuals, not a random poll.

3.) JUST BECAUSE YOU DISAGREE DOESN’T MAKE IT WRONG

In the comments on my story, Real American Ranger wrote, “Who ever wrote this article is obviously on crack. The experiment with putting a community organizer with zero real world experience in the white house has failed miserably.”

We’re all entitled to our own opinions, but not to our own facts. The fact is, Barack Obama and Jerry Brown are riding high in California, borne by a minority-heavy voting population that skews significantly toward Democrats. There certainly are people who dislike Obama and Brown, but they are outnumbered. The polls show it, the elections show it – it walks and talks like a duck, yet a few vocal critics insist it’s a goose.

Try to remember, folks: Neither these nonpartisan polls nor this news organization are here to confirm your personal worldview. If you want that, I’m sure there’s a cable news channel that will make you very happy.

Posted on Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Barack Obama, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Obama presidency, polls | 4 Comments »