Chuck DeVore rolls out billboard campaign

Republican U.S. Senate primary candidate Chuck DeVore today announced a new media effort.

Well, not “new media” as in digital, online, cutting-edge. In that sense, it’s decidedly old-school: a statewide billboard campaign that started its run today at locations in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties as well as along the Central Valley’s Highway 99 corridor.

But if you want to see one yourself, you’ll have to truck out to Atwater – that’s the closest one to the Bay Area. I asked DeVore campaign spokesman Joshua Trevino where the love was for our region, and he quickly replied, “Isn’t everyone in the Bay Area already sold on Chuck?”

Anyhow, the campaign says the billboards were the brainchild of two of DeVore’s conservative Hollywood supporters, with DeVore’s 18-year-old daughter completing the layout and artwork.

DeVore billboard

You won’t see too many U.S. Senate candidates having their teenage daughters design their billboards, but DeVore needs to be economical. He reported $625,958 in contributions in the first quarter of this year, with about $411,802 cash on hand as of March 31. In contrast, GOP primary frontrunner Tom Campbell reported $1.66 million raised in the first quarter with $1.1 million cash on hand at the end of last month, and primary rival Carly Fiorina – who earlier had put $2.5 millon of her own money into her campaign – reported $1.7 million raised in the first quarter, with $2.8 million cash on hand at last month’s end.

DeVore supporter Stephen K. Bannon, producer/writer/director of “Generation Zero,” said in a news release that the concept “of placing Chuck Devore in front of the Constitution was a natural. Chuck’s entire career has been about service to country and defense of our basic freedoms. Chuck Devore’s public life is inextricably linked to his defense of our Constitution. We are glad to represent a growing section of the creative community that actively supports Chuck Devore’s candidacy for the Republican nomination for United States Senate.”

“Our object is to retire Senator Boxer. We know what a tough campaigner she is, so we set out from the start to innovate, to blaze a new path to victory,” DeVore said in his release. “Our campaign has won awards for innovation in social networking and for the first-ever statewide candidate iPhone app. This stunning billboard image is a continuation of that effort.”

Trevino said the campaign will “closely measure the initial response and, pending results, we’ll expand our billboard buy significantly.”

DeVore has been making some progress but still trails his GOP primary rivals – and Boxer, in a hypothetical general-election matchup – in all recent polls.

UPDATE @ 1:41 P.M.: Trevino just called to say the campaign has bought two billboards to catch motorists going either direction on the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge.


DiFi will chair Boxer’s re-election campaign

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s re-election campaign announced today that U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein will serve as its chairwoman.

“Senator Boxer and I make a great team for California,” Feinstein said in the news release. “That’s why I’m so proud to chair Senator Boxer’s campaign. Barbara is a proven and effective leader for California, and our strong partnership is essential in creating jobs and turning our economy around.”

“I’ve seen Barbara’s extraordinary leadership of the Environment and Public Works Committee firsthand as she works across party lines to create the clean energy and transportation jobs our communities desperately need. Barbara never gives up when fighting for Californians. I know the families of California want us to continue working together as an effective team to improve their lives and their communities.”

This is a show of force, as Feinstein remains one of California’s most influential Democrats; think, e.g., of how Jerry Brown waited and waited to formally declare his gubernatorial candidacy until after DiFi publicly said she wouldn’t run. Polls show Feinstein remains more popular than Boxer, so she brings some gravitas and centrist appeal to the table (not that she’ll be running the campaign’s day-to-day or anything like that).

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama will arrive in Los Angeles on Monday evening to attend fundraisers – a sold-out, $17,600-a-head shindig at the city’s Natural History Museum, and a reception at the California Science Center for which tickets cost $100 to $2,500 – on behalf of Boxer and the Democratic National Committee.

Boxer’s campaign this week said it raised $2.4 million in the first quarter of 2010. In the GOP primary race, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina raised $1.7 million; former Cal business school dean, Congressman and state finance director Tom Campbell raised $1.6 million; and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore raised $626,000.


Now we’ll hear about it for the next eight months

The House has passed the Senate’s $940 billion health reform bill on a 219-212 vote, and the news releases are flying hot and heavy, as they surely will continue to do on this issue from now through November’s midterm Congressional elections.

From Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton:

Jerry McNerney“For nine months, I’ve been listening to our community’s thoughts and ideas on health care reform. I’ve held public events that hundreds of people have attended and have met with seniors, patients, veterans, small business owners, doctors, and nurses. Thousands of people have also emailed, written letters, and called my office.

“I’ve heard from people denied health coverage for preexisting conditions like diabetes and allergies. I’ve met seniors who can’t afford the monthly cost of prescription drugs. I’ve talked with small businesses owners who have been forced to lay off employees because of skyrocketing premiums. I’ve heard many heartbreaking stories about the struggle so many Americans face right now to afford health care.

“I’ve carefully reviewed the proposal, read every page, and listened to all the input that the people I represent have offered. Throughout this process, I’ve stood up for reform that will lower costs, give families security and peace-of-mind, and make sure people can choose their doctor and care.

“Today, we took a critical step towards making health care more affordable for American families and helping to guarantee our nation’s long-term economic prosperity. Reforming health care is a fiscally responsible course of action that will build on the best of the American system by making sure people can keep their current insurance if they like it and choose what doctors they want see.

“Reform will reduce the growth of health care costs by creating fair, transparent and competitive health insurance markets and cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse. It will improve benefits for seniors, help small businesses to stay open, and stop insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions or kicking sick people off their plans.”

From Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele:

michael_steele“Californians have plenty of reason to be disappointed today, as Representative McNerney chose to continue siding with the liberal leaders in Washington and support this government takeover of health care. Rep. McNerney should be ashamed to have been part of this partisan trickery and underhanded tactics used to ram this bill through Congress. And even more so, he should be ashamed to have supported a bill that will force already struggling Californians to face a future of higher taxes, increased premiums and Medicare cuts.

“Americans across the country have made their voices heard and flatly reject this legislation loaded with special deals and tax increases, but Rep. McNerney did not listen to them and instead chose to force this bill through by any means necessary. Rep. McNerney can be sure that voters in his district will not forget this vote that will negatively affect Americans for generations to come, and this November they will be sure to send him packing.”

Many more voices, after the jump…
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GOP Senate candidates on Bunning’s blockade

The Washington Post reports that U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., again this morning was the lone vote blocking the Senate from extending unemployment benefits, highway funds and other programs in the face of mounting criticism from Democrats and pleas from his own party.

So how do California’s Republican U.S. Senate primary candidates feel about Bunning’s single-handed blockade?

Chuck DeVore believes that Sen. Bunning’s point about actually paying for spending with something other than more debt is pretty important,” DeVore spokesman Joshua Trevino said today. “It’s a shame the Senate majority doesn’t feel the same.”

Carly Fiorina‘s campaign addressed the issue without taking a stance on Bunning’s tactic.

“Carly believes extending unemployment benefits is crucial and that Congress can and should find a way to pay for it rather than continuing to push the country deeper into debt,” Fiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund said in an e-mail. “Washington’s favorite game of one-upmanship that’s being played over this issue is exactly the kind of thing Americans are sick and tired of. Carly believes U.S. Senate should do what the American people elected them to do, which is get together to find a mutually agreeable solution to this problem.”

And Tom Campbell said the vote should be allowed to go forward.

“Sen. Bunning’s point is that we should take the money from the $789 billion ‘stimulus bill’ that was passed last year, of which more than $500 billion still remains to be spent. That would be preferable by far to adding to the deficit further; however, the Senate has to deal with the economic emergency at hand, and the needs of those who are out of work, and should go ahead without further delay,” Campbell said. “I do renew my call for a return to Gramm Rudman Hollings, whereby there are set deficit reduction goals, which have to be followed. Then emergency needs like this could be factored in to the important process of overall budget control.”

See what some from the other side of the aisle have had to say over the past few days about his single-handed blockade, after the jump…
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Campaign updates: To debate, or not to debate?

The Republican U.S. Senate primary campaign of Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, advised reporters today that one of his rivals, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, “is trying to shut down a proposed candidate debate at the California Republican Party spring convention” while declining another debate invitation from Brandman University (although Fiorina did apparently accept an invitation from ABC News and the League of Women Voters for a primary debate on May 6 in Los Angeles).

Chuck DeVore“We’re assiduous about not making allegations we can’t source,” DeVore spokesman Joshua Trevino told me this evening – most of the time. “I can’t share how we know the Fiorina people are aggressively trying to quash the CRP debate, I can only assure you it is so.”

Well, a lot of California Republican Party insiders certainly seem to want the candidates to debate. FlashReport publisher and CRP Vice Chairman Jon Fleischman told me this evening that in his contacts with various campaigns and GOP insiders, “I have not sensed that Fiorina is not willing to debate, but I sensed a reticence on the part of her campaign to relinquish her keynote position at the convention luncheon in order to debate.”

California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring said as of now, no debate is scheduled.

“If all of the candidates for Senate or governor came to me and said ‘we want to do a debate at the convention,’ then we would put one on, but absent that, I’ve got to hold a convention,” he said this evening. “At the end of the day, the show must go on.”

Carly FiorinaFiorina spokeswoman Julie Soderlund got back to me shortly after both the above conversations to note that Nehring had invited Fiorina to keynote the lunch back in December, and she had promptly accepted. “Carly looks forward to her speech and to a full compliment of convention activities over the weekend,” Soderlund said. “We have received no invitation to a debate at the convention.”

Of course, Nehring’s invitation for Fiorina to keynote happened before Tom Campbell switched from the GOP gubernatorial primary to this race, shaking up the contest’s dynamics considerably. And Campbell spokesman Jamie Fisfis told me tonight that “we are always open to debates. We have a zillion invites and this would be an important one.”

(UPDATE @ 8:06 P.M.: This just in from California Republican Party Chief Operating Officer Brent Lowder:
“A series of discussions on convention debates were held at the staff level with statewide campaigns in recent months; however, no formal invitations were extended. After recent internal discussion, the CRP has decided not to make any changes to the 2010 Spring Convention agenda involving debates.
“We look forward to an exciting convention that will showcase all of our major candidates and will be the staging ground for a united and energized California Republican Party to achieve important victories in the upcoming general election campaign.”)

(UPDATE @ 2:14 P.M. THURSDAY: Yet more from Lowder, just now: “Based on some confusion arising from my statement yesterday on potential convention debates, I would like to clarify the exact position of the California Republican Party. We are currently moving forward with a convention that has no planned debates in the GOP primaries for Governor or United States Senate because our discussions with the campaigns did not indicate that all candidates would participate. If we were to hear from all of the major candidates in either of those primaries that they would like the CRP to facilitate a debate at the convention, we would be pleased to do so.”)

Meanwhile, incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., announced she’ll file her candidacy documents in person Thursday at the Riverside County Registar of Voters – she has a home in Rancho Mirage – before lunching with supporters in Riverside. She owns a condo up here in Oakland, too, but making a media event out of filing in a red county seems to have more of a centrist “je ne sais quoi,” no?

Today’s minor happenings in the gubernatorial and state Attorney General races, after the jump…
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At least he admits it when he’s wrong

Republican U.S. Senate primary candidate Tom Campbell announced today that he has raised about $700,000 since switching to this race from the gubernatorial primary about a month ago. “Our fundraising is on fire,” said campaign finance director Kimberley Halcomb.

But it was almost primary rival Chuck DeVore’s pants that were on fire. DeVore campaign spokesman Joshua Trevino sent out an e-mail this afternoon urging reporters to double-check Campbell’s numbers; he said Campbell had fudged a November claim of having surpassed $1 million raised for his gubernatorial bid, given Campbell’s end-of-year report showing only $925,000 raised in 2009.

“We’re not saying his present figure is also false. We’re saying it deserves a bit of skepticism given recent history,” Trevino wrote. “Unfortunately, we can’t take the Campbell campaign’s self-reporting on these things at face value.”

Or, maybe you can. Trevino send a second e-mail 32 minutes after the first:

On the e-mail I just sent out to you — well, there’s no way to sugarcoat it. I was wrong in my line of questioning on Tom Campbell’s self-reported numbers. Turns out he raised approximately 200k in his 2008 exploratory phase. I missed that, and mea culpa.

So ignore the previous, or I suppose you can report it as an error if you like. But I hope a takeaway is that we want to be accurate. We’re not the campaign of demon sheep, after all!