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CA17: Mike Honda’s political director resigns

The political director of Rep. Mike Honda’s campaign has quit, telling supporters the 17th Congressional District’s competitive nature “will require and deserve an increasingly greater commitment of time and energy.”

Lamar HeystekLamar Heystek wrote that he’s choosing instead “to begin devoting more time and energy to my wife, our son and the family we look forward to growing together,” as well as starting a new job as program development officer at ASIAN Inc., a San Francisco nonprofit working on behalf of Asian Americans and other minorities in areas such as business development, housing and financial education.

It sounds like there’s no bad blood between Heystek, 35, of San Francisco, and Honda, D-San Jose. “My faith and confidence in him and his campaign have been unshakable. He is an outstanding public servant and a great friend who will continue to receive my support and assistance.”

Campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show Honda’s campaign has been paying Heystek $6,000 per month.

Heystek, a former Davis councilman, departs as the 17th District race shifts into even higher gear for the sprint toward June 3’s top-two primary. Fellow Democrat Ro Khanna’s challenge has been making headlines for almost a year; Republican Vanila Singh got into the race at the start of 2014; and two other Republicans – Joel Vanlandingham and Vinesh Singh Rathore – entered the race just before this month’s candidacy filing deadline.

Honda campaign spokesman Vivek Kembaiyan said Wednesday that Heystek has been an important part of the campaign since joining it in 2011, helping to run its multi-lingual voter outreach and laying the groundwork for Honda’s overwhelming Democratic Party endorsement.

“Lamar’s departure from the campaign, so he can spend more time with his growing family, has been in the works for months and the transition has been smooth,” Kembaiyan said. “We miss seeing Lamar everyday, but thanks in part to his dedication and hard work, Congressman Honda’s campaign is in its strongest position ever and we are continuing full speed ahead into the primary.”

Read Heystek’s entire email, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, March 19th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

CAGOP14: Sessions touts CA17′s Vanila Singh

Dr. Vanila Singh, a Republican challenger to Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th Congressional District, had a big booster at this weekend’s California Republican Convention this weekend: House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions.

Pete SessionsSessions, R-Texas, helped host a small meet-and-greet between Singh and a group of Republican physicians, and then spoke highly of her after his news conference.

“She is a very interesting person who is deeply committed to helping families and communities to overcome the ravages of big government and high taxation,” said Sessions, who as former chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee is no stranger to recruiting and shepherding new GOP candidates to seek House seats.

Singh’s parents came from India to America on Ronald Reagan’s promise of economic opportunity, Sessions said, and she has become not only a physician serving the community but also “a well-educated, thoughtful mom and wife who sees first-hand that big government is taking too many thing away.”

Singh said Sessions has been “unbelievable,” an invaluable mentor and adviser. “It gives me hope to know our leaders care about the folks around them and are willing to encourage and give their time.”

Honda, D-San Jose, is seeking an eighth term, and a challenge brought by fellow Democrat Ro Khanna – a former Obama administration official from Fremont – has been making national headlines for almost a year. Singh entered the race at the start of this year, and two more Republicans jumped in just before the March 7 filing deadline: Joel Vanlandingham and Vinesh Singh Rathore, both of San Jose.

Vanila SinghAsked about those last-minute entries, who threaten to dilute the district’s already small GOP electorate, Singh replied, “I’m running my horserace.” She said she “most likely” will attend a League of Women Voters candidates’ forum on Saturday, May 3; Honda and Khanna already have committed to attend.

California GOP Vice Chairwoman Harmeet Dhillon of San Francisco said having three Indo-Americans in this race – Khanna, Singh and Rathore – is “a sign that the Indian American community has reached political maturity.”

But Dhillon said Rathore’s candidacy is “fishy” – someone formerly registered as a nonpartisan with a similar name (V. Singh Rathore and V. Singh) entering the race at the 11th hour. Though party bylaws prevent Dhillon from endorsing anyone when multiple Republicans are in the race, Singh is “a refreshing voice in our party … who shares the same concerns as the people in her community, and she has a lot to say.”

Dhillon also noted Singh placed ahead of Khanna in a recent poll commissioned by Honda’s liberal allied at Democracy for America, despite Khanna’s aggressive campaign over the past year. “He has certainly had his people reach out to Republican donors, Republican players.”

More from Singh, after the jump…
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Posted on Saturday, March 15th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, Republican Party, Republican politics, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

CA17: Candidate forum scheduled for May 3

Rep. Mike Honda will face off against his Democratic challenger, Ro Khanna, and perhaps three Republican candidates at a forum in early May.

Gloria Chun Hoo, president of the League of Women Voters of San Jose/Santa Clara, confirmed Tuesday night that the 17th Congressional District forum will be held from 7* to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 3 at Fremont City Hall. Chun’s league is partnering with two others – Fremont, Newark and Union City, and Cupertino-Sunnyvale – to sponsor the event.

Honda’s and Khanna’s campaign staff confirmed Tuesday night that those candidates will attend. Three Republicans in the race – Dr. Vanila Singh of Fremont, Vinesh Singh Rathore of San Jose and Joel Vanlandingham of San Jose – are invited as well, but could not immediately be reached Tuesday.

Sources said the event will follow a typical league format in which the candidates make brief opening and closing statements and take questions from the audience via a moderator, but do not directly address or attack each other.

Khanna, a former Obama administration official from Fremont, challenged Honda in early January to commit to a series of debates; Honda’s campaign responded it was too early to commit. All three Republicans have entered the race since then.

Honda campaign manager Doug Greven said Tuesday that he and his staff had begun talks with Hoo and with the Mercury News as early as December, but felt it was premature to set a date and book a venue until the field of candidates was finalized at the close of the filing period on March 7.

UPDATE @ 9:18 P.M.: I just spoke with Marilyn Singer from the Fremont league, who said it’s possible the forum will start slightly earlier – perhaps 6:45 p.m. – depending on the number of candidates who commit to participate; they’ll firm that up as the date grows closer. Also, there will be no opening statements from the candidates – they’ll go right to the questions, and then have a chance to deliver brief closing statements.

Posted on Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 10 Comments »

Jerry Brown rakes in some Silicon Valley cash

Gov. Jerry Brown’s re-election campaign reported almost a third of a million dollars in Silicon Valley and Bay Area campaign contributions Tuesday.

Among those listed on the filing as having made contributions Monday:

Venture capitalist Reid Hoffman, Mountain View – $54,400
Michelle Yee (Hoffman’s wife) – $54,400
Angel investor Ron Conway, Danville – $54,400
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Santa Cruz – $27,200
Patty Quillin (Hastings’ wife) – $27,200
California Teachers Association, Burlingame – $27,200
TechNet California PAC, Los Gatos – $17,000
Qualcomm Inc., San Diego – $10,000
Attorney Jon Streeter, Berkeley – $10,000
Attorney John Keker, San Francisco – $10,000
Venture capitalist Nicholas Pritzker, San Francisco – $10,000
Venture capitalist Joseph Pritzker, San Francisco – $10,000
Qatalyst CEO Frank Quattrone, Los Altos Hills – $10,000
Denise Foderaro (Quattrone’s wife) – $10,000
Former U.S. Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C. – $1,000

Perhaps not coincidentally, Democratic rainmaker and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff on Monday reported a $20,657.82 “in-kind contribution of fundraising event expenses” for Brown’s campaign.

Posted on Tuesday, March 11th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, campaign finance, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | No Comments »

AD20: GOP’s Jaime Patino builds campaign

Jaime Patino doesn’t dislike Assemblyman Bill Quirk; he just thinks he’s wrong.

Jaime PatinoPatino is a Republican challenging Quirk, D-Hayward, for the East Bay’s 20th Assembly District seat. He said he ran into Quirk at a recent Rotary breakfast.

“I don’t question his integrity at all, I think he’s a good man,” said Patino, 42, of Union City. “I just think that we come from two very different philosophies of the role government plays in people’s lives.”

They probably agree on most social issues, he acknowledged – Patino says he’s a mind the public’s pocketbook, not private bedrooms type of Republican. But Patino said Quirk and other Democrats are putting too much emphasis on higher taxes and spending in order to solve California’s economic issues, while he believes private-sector job creation and education that focuses on modern job skills is a better way to go.

Patino said last year’s BART strike reinforced his desire to run.

“Our whole Bay Area delegation was just silent,” said Patino, who uses BART to commute to his UC-Berkeley job as a research financial administrator. “Who’s looking out for the regular guy? They’re more afraid of the unions than of their constituents, the people who elected them.”

Patino – a lifelong Union City resident who now chairs its Human Relations Commission -said he also was deeply shaken by the killings of two young men last August about three blocks from his home; he said his has nephews just a few years younger than those victims. “Those kids need more role models, more input from people who look like them and come from where they come from.”

“And I want to show people there are Latino Republicans, and we’re not the boogeyman,” he added, noting he’ll be campaigning heavily in the Latino community. “They can’t call me a country-club Republican.”

Read more, after the jump…
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Posted on Thursday, March 6th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Assembly, Bill Quirk | 1 Comment »

SD10: Another endorsement for Mary Hayashi

It seems I was premature in assuming former Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi would have trouble securing endorsements in her run for the 10th State Senate District seat.

Mary HayashiThe Hayward Democrat’s campaign announced Tuesday evening that she has been endorsed by the California School Employees Association; this comes one week after the United Farm Workers announced its support.

According to Hayashi’s news release, CSEA Executive Director Dave Low wrote that his group’s support is based on Hayashi’s “support for public education and labor issues of importance to classified employees. Once elected, we will continue to work with you to find practical, equitable solutions to issues of mutual concern.”

CSEA represents more than 216,000 classified employees in California’s public school and community college systems: instructional aides, peace officers, secretaries, groundskeepers, food service, transportation and maintenance personnel and more.

Hayashi, who represented what was then the 18th Assembly District from 2006 to 2012, was convicted two years ago of shoplifting $2,450 worth of clothes from San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus; she was sentenced to three years of probation.

Also seeking the 10th State Senate District seat are Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont; Democrat Roman Reed, a spinal-injury research advocate and planning commissioner from Fremont; Republican Peter Kuo, an insurance agent from Santa Clara; and former Assemblywoman Audie Bock, also a Republican. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Roy Hashimoto also has taken out papers for this race; this Friday, March 7 is the filing deadline.

Wieckowski has the lion’s share of endorsements so far and – based on the results at a local caucus meeting last month – is likely to win the California Democratic Party’s endorsement at its convention this weekend in Los Angeles.

UPDATE @ 3:27 P.M.: It turns out the CSEA also has endorsed Wieckowski, who also Wednesday announced his backing by Teamsters Joint Council 7.

“Supporting working women and men and ensuring they have a voice in the workplace has been a priority for me in the Assembly and will continue to be a priority for me in the Senate,” Wieckowski said.

As I think I’ve noted before, dual endorsements – like tied sports scores – are like kissing your sister, boring enough to mean practically nothing at all.

UPDATE @ 3:16 P.M. THURSDAY: Teamsters Joint Council 7 endorsed Hayashi, too; this is fast becoming the “duel of the duals,” though Wieckowski’s overall endorsement list dwarfs Hayashi’s.

Posted on Wednesday, March 5th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, California State Senate, Mary Hayashi | 5 Comments »

CA15: President Obama endorses Eric Swalwell

Rep. Eric Swalwell announced Monday that he has President Barack Obama’s endorsement for re-election in the 15th Congressional District.

Eric Swalwell“Congressman Eric Swalwell has proved to be a tireless champion for families throughout California’s 15th District, bringing new energy and ideas to Congress,” Obama said in a statement released by Swalwell’s campaign. “Eric is a strong voice for creating good jobs, expanding economic opportunity, and growing the middle class.”

“Since day one, Eric has shown unwavering dedication to the needs of his constituents – helping veterans secure the benefits they’ve earned, protecting seniors, and ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work,” the president added. “I enthusiastically support Eric Swalwell’s reelection to Congress so the East Bay can continue to move forward.”

Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, said he’s honored by the endorsement and has worked with the president to protect the middle class and help workers find jobs. “I look forward to working with President Obama to address the many challenges faced by my constituents, including ensuring women receive equal pay for equal work, taking care of our veterans, and growing our middle class.”

Ellen CorbettSwalwell’s sole challenger is a fellow Democrat, state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro; no other candidates have taken out papers in Alameda or Contra Costa counties so far for this race, and the filing deadline is this Friday, March 7.

“The president tends to endorse incumbents, the president endorsed the incumbent that Congressman Swalwell ran against last time and the incumbent didn’t win,” Corbett said Monday afternoon, referring to former Rep. Pete Stark. “People have an opportunity to take a look at the candidates and choose who they feel is most qualified for the job based on their qualifications and experience.”

Swalwell already has announced endorsements from national Democratic figures such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., as well as from various other members of Congress and all the mayors in his district.

But Corbett has been endorsed by her fellow state Senate Democrats, and drew enough votes at a local caucus last month to deny Swalwell a Democratic Party “pre-endorsement.” Both candidates will make their cases at the California Democratic Party convention this weekend in Los Angeles.

Posted on Monday, March 3rd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Barack Obama, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 17 Comments »

CA17: Officials defend Honda on BART project

Call it the “Battle of the Truth Squads.”

People who’ve been involved in BART’s extension to San Jose have asked Ro Khanna, the former Obama administration official challenging fellow Democrat Rep. Mike Honda, to stop what they say are misleading attacks on Honda’s role in the project.

Khanna’s campaign on Feb. 14 and again on Feb. 25 posted to its “Truth Squad” website items claiming Honda had inflated his record on the BART extension and other work he has done in Congress; I wrote about the Honda campaign’s response last week.

honda.jpgBut Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta; state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose; Valley Transportation Authority chairman and San Jose Councilman Ash Kalra; former VTA general manager Michael Burns; and former Santa Clara County Supervisor Rod Diridon Sr. wrote to Khanna on Sunday urging him to “to correct the information on your website and what is given to the media by your campaign, and avoid further distortions of Congressman Honda’s record.”

“Mike Honda’s leadership on this issue in Washington and in the district has been vital to bringing BART and the thousands of accompanying jobs to our area,” they wrote. “Your questioning of such leadership undermines your credibility as a candidate and is not appreciated by those of us who have been working on this issue for decades.”

Khanna’s campaign is sticking to its claim that Honda has inflated his record on what he actually did.

Ro Khanna“Our concern has been and remains that Congressman Honda is taking sole credit for securing $900 million for the BART extension,” Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said Monday. “We have always appreciated that the Congressman played a constructive role in the project but voters are tired of politicians who take credit for a project that resulted from the work of countless individuals over a long period of time. Voters deserve a discussion of these issues, and that is why Ro has proposed monthly debates hosted by local media outlets – a proposal that has still gone unanswered by Congressman Honda’s campaign.”

It seems Law was talking about moments like this, when Honda tweeted this during President Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 28:

Honda tweet

Though too late for the letter, former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood weighed in Monday with his own support of Honda’s role in the project.

“Congressman Mike Honda is a dogged and effective advocate in Washington for the BART extension. The merits of such a solid project and Mike’s consistent support were key contributors to my decision to recommend the extension for a ($900 million) Full Funding Grant Agreement,” LaHood said in a statement shared by Honda’s campaign. “From my days on the House Appropriations Committee, I remember Mike’s commitment to securing funding to get the project going – he is a vociferous advocate for improved transit in the Bay Area.”

Read the full letter (with footnotes!), after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, March 3rd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 8 Comments »

CA17: Mike Honda’s allies cite favorable poll

Rep. Mike Honda holds a lead of at least 19 percentage points over Democratic challenger Ro Khanna, according to a new poll released Thursday morning by a national liberal group that’s backing Honda.

The poll of 17th Congressional District voters conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of Democracy for America found Honda, D-San Jose, leading Khanna by 19 points when they and a third candidate, Republican Vanila Singh, are identified by their party affiliations. In fact, Singh finished ahead of Khanna though within the poll’s margin of error.

Without being told the canddiates’ party affiliations, voters preferred Honda over Khanna by 35 percentage points, with Singh a distant third. In one-on-one matches, Honda led Khanna by 22 points and led Singh by 38 points. And the poll found 61 percent of respondents approve of Honda’s job performance.

“Mike Honda has earned the support of Silicon Valley voters and he continues to have their support today, no matter how many max-out contributions millionaire and billionaire CEOs and executives pour into Vanila Singh and Ro Khanna’s campaigns,” said Democracy for America executive director Charles Chamberlain.

Honda and Khanna have been pot-shotting each other for months, with Honda accusing Khanna of being in the pocket of Silicon Valley millionaires while Khanna notes Honda is accepting a lot of PAC and Washington money while Khanna’s fundraising base is more Bay Area-centric.

Without taking the poll as gospel, Khanna’s campaign still sees progress.

“It is encouraging to know that, in a matter of months, Ro has increased his support from 5 percent to 26 percent while Rep. Honda’s lead has plummeted from 52 to 19 points and he’s now well under 50 percent – a danger sign for any incumbent,” Khanna spokesman Tyler Law said Wednesday night. “It’s clear that Ro’s campaign of energy and ideas is connecting with voters, who are tired of the stasis and dysfunction in Congress. The trends are very much in favor of change this November.”

Follow after the jump to see the results as presented by DFA:
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Posted on Thursday, February 27th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Mike Honda, polls, U.S. House | 19 Comments »

Gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly in Dublin

Gubernatorial candidate Tim Donnelly is meeting with fellow Republicans in the East Bay on Wednesday night, and let’s all hope he’s not packing heat.

Tim DonnellyThe reception for Donnelly – co-hosted by the Tri-Valley Republican Women Federated, the Frederick Douglas Foundation of California, the New Republicans, and the East Bay Tea Party – from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Coco Cabana in Dublin coincides with a Los Angeles Times story that says the handgun Donnelly tried to take through airport security in 2012 was not registered to him.

“He will decline to comment on this,” Donnelly campaign manager Jennifer Kerns said Wednesday afternoon. “That information in that story is two years old and was written about when that incident first happened. Old news…”

The Assemblyman from Twin Peaks had a loaded .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun in his carry-on bag as he tried to board a plane Jan. 4, 2012 at the Ontario airport. He pleaded no contest later that year to misdemeanor charges of carrying a loaded firearm in public without a concealed weapons permit and possessing a gun in an airport; he paid a $2,125 fine and is still on his three years of probation.

The Times nailed Donnelly earlier this month for apparently violating that probation by firing borrowed handguns at a Santa Cruz shooting range while on the campaign trail. San Bernardino District Attorney Michael Ramos said last week he won’t charge Donnelly with a probation violation.

I’d ask Donnelly about the unregistered handgun tonight, but it’s my birthday and my wife is taking me out to dinner – no work for me this evening! Instead, you can go: The event is free and requires no RSVP.

“Come on out and meet Tim Donnelly in a relaxed, personal setting after work. He wants the chance to talk with his fellow conservative Republicans in our 16th (Assembly) district, and to hear about what’s important to you,” the invitation says. “This is your chance to share your priorities with him, and to learn how he intends to help us preserve our cherished way of life here in the Tri-Valley, stop the spending spree in Sacramento, lower our taxes, protect our guns and our borders, and restore and defend our God-given liberty!”

Posted on Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Tim Donnelly | 4 Comments »