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Dems gather in Oakland to mull ballot measures

The California Democratic Party’s Executive Board convenes this weekend in Oakland, where it will decide whether to endorse the propositions – including two costly, controversial ones – on November’s ballot.

Proposition 45 would give the state insurance commissioner the authority to reject health-insurance premium hikes, and Proposition 46 would raise the $250,000 cap on punitive medical-malpractice damages. Opponents already have anted up tens of millions to fight the measures, and so pressure will be high as party delegates gather at Oakland’s Marriott convention center.

The votes are scheduled for Sunday. But the agenda includes various caucus and committee meetings Friday and Saturday, with speakers and visitors such as Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, a candidate for state controller now embroiled in rival John Perez’ recount; state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys, a candidate for secretary of state; and Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, now seeking a second term.

Posted on Friday, July 11th, 2014
Under: ballot measures, Democratic Party, Democratic politics | No Comments »

John Burton’s letter to Texas Gov. Rick Perry

The California Democratic Party just provided a copy of the letter that chairman John Burton sent Thursday to Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

June 19, 2014

Governor Rick Perry
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428

Rick,

The Associated Press has reported that for all of your incessant California-bashing, you may be considering a move to the Golden State after your term as Governor of Texas ends.

We don’t blame you.

California has a lot to offer. From some of the best coastline in the world, national parks like Yosemite and Joshua Tree, from Hollywood to Silicon Valley, from San Diego to the crown jewel of San Francisco, this is simply the place to be.

That said, you really ought to know what you’re signing up for here. It may not be your scene.

Here in California we don’t stick our heads in the sand or twiddle our thumbs when it comes to Global Warming. We know it’s real, and our Governor Jerry Brown is leading the way to combat the threat we all face. California signed the Climate Change Pact together with the Governors of Oregon, Washington State and British Columbia. We’re building the nation’s first high speed rail system and we passed the Global Warming Solutions Act close to ten years ago.

Then there’s the matter of you equating homosexuality with alcoholism. Rick, it will take more than marching in this month’s San Francisco Pride Parade for you to begin to walk those comments back, but if you’re planning to make the move, it couldn’t hurt to start there.

This is California, the home of Harvey Milk. We’re a national leader in the fight for equal rights and marriage equality. Our Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom threw the gauntlet down way back in 2004 when, as mayor of San Francisco, he decided enough was enough and fought to give gay and lesbian couples the right to get married (and divorced for that matter) just like everyone else.

You should also know our minimum wage is set to go up to $10 an hour here thanks to our Democratic legislators and Governor Jerry Brown.

We understand even our state’s harshest critics would love to call California home, and apparently you’re no different. We’re just saying it wouldn’t hurt to do a little research before you load up the U-Haul and head west.

Peace and friendship,

John Burton
Chairman
California Democratic Party

Posted on Thursday, June 19th, 2014
Under: Democratic Party, Democratic politics | 17 Comments »

President Obama returns to Bay Area on July 23

But… we’ve barely even had time to miss him! {sarcasm}

President Barack Obama will return to Silicon Valley for a July 23 fundraiser to benefit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Tickets for the luncheon at the Los Altos Hills home of real estate developer and Democratic benefactor George Marcus start at $10,000 per person (including a photo opportunity and lunch) or $32,400 per couple (including a VIP photo opportunity and lunch).

Also scheduled to attend are House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; DCCC Chairman Steve Israel, D-N.Y.; and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto.

Obama headlined two Democratic National Committee fundraisers May 8 in Los Altos and San Jose. Earlier, he was in the Bay Area for Democratic fundraisers in November 2013, June 2013, and April 2013.

Posted on Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
Under: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Obama presidency | 22 Comments »

Obama returns to Bay Area on May 8

President Obama will return to the Bay Area on Thursday, May 8 for a pair of high-priced events to raise money for the Democratic National Committee.

Tickets for a reception at the Palo Alto home of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer start at $1,000 for individual guests, while $5,000 buys a place in the photo line; $7,500 buys access and photos for two; $10,000 buys co-chair status; and $32,400 buys all that plus membership in the DNC Presidential Partners Program.

Mayer hosted Obama for a DNC fundraiser in October 2010, when she was still an executive at Google.

“We need the resources to put Democrats in office to move our country forward,” says the invitation to this upcoming event. “Since we do not take money from special interests, corporate lobbyists, and political action committees, we rely on dedicated Democrats like you. Please join us for a reception to support this important work.”

Obama also is expected to do a roundtable with about 20 tech executives that same day somewhere in Silicon Valley, with seats going for the $32,400 maximum contribution. It’s not yet known whether he’ll do any official events while he’s here, or whether he’ll be staying overnight.

Posted on Friday, April 11th, 2014
Under: campaign finance, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Obama presidency | 12 Comments »

Legal scandals lead Dems to cancel golf fundraiser

Chalk up one immediate victim of the ethical and legal scandals sullying the state Senate: Golf.

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Kevin de Leon, who’ll succeed Steinberg in the top spot at the end of this year, issued a joint statement Tuesday announcing they’ve cancelled this weekend’s Pro Tem Cup – the annual Democratic party fundraiser at which donors give tens of thousands of dollars to join legislative leaders on the links at Torrey Pines in La Jolla – “in light of the very recent and extraordinary breaches of the public trust by three individuals.”

C’mon, guys, SAY THE NAMES! Roderick Wright, D-Inglewood, convicted of voter fraud and perjury; Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, indicted on bribery charges; and Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, charged last week with trading favors for money and conspiring to traffic arms.

So, no golf!

“In its place, we intend to spend this weekend in our districts having an open and public conversation with our constituents about the work ahead for this Legislature and for this state,” Steinberg and de Leon said in their joint statement. “It’s important that our constituents understand that, despite the appalling acts of a few individuals who – on their own – put self-interest ahead of the public interest, the Senators who are here are here to serve, to do the hard, unglamorous work of fixing tough public-policy problems, and – most important – to do it the right way.”

And that means putting the putters away. Steinberg and de Leon said the modern campaign system makes fundraising “an occupational necessity, but Senate Democrats have always prided themselves on doing it ethically, appropriately, and in full adherence to every rule and regulation governing public disclosure.

“The Pro Tem Cup has long been a successful, signature example of this,” they said. “But these are unprecedented times and they demand that we take a step back and take stock of how we all do the people’s business and balance it against the demands of running for office.”

The lawmakers said Senate leadership in coming weeks will conduct a “rigorous review of existing campaign finance laws and our own internal fundraising practices – and make recommendations on where we can improve as a caucus and a state, with a focus on when, where and how we raise campaign dollars and how we increase public transparency.” They’ll also schedule a public hearing to discuss campaign finance “the constitutional limits on reform.”

“Make no mistake: Senate Democrats fully intend to strengthen our productive, progressive majority this election year and have no intention of unilaterally disarming in terms of campaign resources,” Steinberg and de Leon said. “But this is time for a reality check. And, while the Legislature as a whole cannot be held responsible for the bad acts of three individual members, we do bear a high and profound responsibility to do all we can to repair the excruciating breach of public confidence they left behind.”

Posted on Tuesday, April 1st, 2014
Under: California State Senate, campaign finance, Darrell Steinberg, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Leland Yee | 9 Comments »

Dems ‘pre-endorse’ some Bay Area candidates

Local Democrats voted Saturday to recommend that their state party endorse Rep. Mike Honda in the 17th Congressional District, Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski in the 10th State Senate District, and Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti in the 16th Congressional District.

Some other candidates – including Rep. Eric Swalwell in the 15th Congressional District and Elizabeth Echols in the 15th Assembly District – didn’t have enough votes to win these “pre-endorsements,” but can make their cases at the California Democratic Party convention next month in Los Angeles. And some races were so split as to allow no endorsement at all.

Democrats gathered Saturday for their regional caucus meetings, choosing among their party’s offerings for offices. Per the party’s rules, a candidate who gets 70 percent or more of the vote is recommended for endorsement and placed on the consent calendar to be ratified at next month’s convention in Los Angeles.

If one candidate receives more than 50 percent but less than 70 percent of the vote for a district, the race will go to the caucuses held during the March Convention. And if no candidate gets a majority of the vote, no endorsement will be made in that race.

Assemblyman Bill Quirk, D-Hayward, was kind enough to tweet and Facebook the results from the Region 5 caucus meeting:

In the 17th Congressional District, incumbent Honda, D-San Jose, reportedly got 122 votes to challenger Ro Khanna’s 11 votes at Saturday’s caucus meeting, so Honda goes on the consent calendar for endorsement at the convention.

In the 15th Congressional District, incumbent Swalwell, D-Pleasanton, reportedly got 45 votes to state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett’s 26 votes while three people voted against making any endorsement; Swalwell, having a majority but not 70 percent, will make his case again at the convention.

In the 10th State Senate District, Wieckowski reportedly got 105 votes, patient advocate Roman Reed got eight votes and former Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi got no votes, so Wieckowski goes on the consent calendar for endorsement at the convention.

In the 15th Assembly District, Echols – a former Small Business Administration regional administrator – reportedly got 45 votes, former Richmond councilman and school board member Tony Thurmond got 17 votes, East Bay Municipal Utility District board president Andy Katz got 5 votes, attorney Sam Kang got no votes, and four people voted against making an endorsement; Echols, having a majority but not 70 percent, will make her case again at the convention.

In the 25th Assembly District, former Fremont Police Chief Craig Steckler reportedly got 18 votes, San Jose Councilman Kansen Chu got 16 votes and Ohlone College Board of Trustees member Teresa Cox got 10 votes, while Milpitas Councilman Armando Gomez won no votes. With no candidate achieving a majority, there will be no party endorsement in this race.

After the Region 2 caucus meeting, Sbranti issued a news release announcing he had received 97 percent of the vote for the 16th Assembly District race, and so will be placed on the convention’s consent calendar for endorsement; other Democrats vying for that seat include Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich and Orinda Vice Mayor Steve Glazer.

And state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, announced he received a unanimous endorsement recommendation to succeed Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, when the latter retires from his 11th Congressional District at the end of this year. No other Democrats of any renown are seeking the seat.

Posted on Monday, February 10th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, Mark DeSaulnier, Mary Hayashi, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 7 Comments »

Tix start at $1k for Obama’s DNC fundraiser in SF

President Barack Obama will be back in the Bay Area in late November to raise money for Democrats.

The luncheon on Monday, Nov. 25 at the San Francisco Jazz Center will be hosted by novelist Robert Mailer Anderson and his wife, Nicola Miner, who held a fundraiser for Obama in their Pacific Heights home in February 2012.

An invitation to the event says tickets cost $1,000 per person; $5,000 for lunch and a photo reception; $7,500 for lunch and the photo reception for two; $10,000 for lunch and the photo reception for a family of up to five people; or $15,000 for lunch and a special co-chair reception. All money goes to the Democratic National Committee.

The San Francisco luncheon is part of the latest national fundraising blitz the President is undertaking on behalf of the DNC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Obama did fundraisers for the DSCC in Palo Alto and Portola Valley this past June, and for the DCCC in April in San Francisco.

Posted on Thursday, October 31st, 2013
Under: Barack Obama, campaign finance, Democratic Party | 20 Comments »

Michelle Obama to raise $$$ for DNC in Bay Area

First Lady Michelle Obama will headline a Democratic National Committee fundraiser on Saturday, Oct. 12 in Belvedere.

Tickets to the 2:30 p.m. reception at the home of retired software executive Noelle Leca and attorney Michael Moradzadeh start at $1,000 per head; it’s $5,000 for a photo with the First Lady, plus $1,000 per additional person in the photo, or $32,400 to become a co-chair and have an even smaller audience with Mrs. Obama.

Posted on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013
Under: campaign finance, Democratic Party, Democratic politics | 2 Comments »

Change of date for Joe Biden’s SF fundraiser

Vice President Joe Biden is still coming to San Francisco this month to raise money for the Democratic National Committee, but not on the date that was originally announced.

Biden is now scheduled to appear at a fundraising breakfast next Friday, June 14, at the home of Doug Hickey, 58, – CEO of BinWise, former managing director at Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, and former CEO of Critical Path – and his wife, attorney Dawn Ross, in San Francisco’s pricey Sea Cliff area. The breakfast initially had been scheduled for Monday, June 17.

Tickets start at $500 per person; $2,500 also buys a photo with Biden, with another $2,500 for each additional person in the photo. Tickets to a private “clutch reception” with Biden cost $10,000 per person. The event is capped at 125 people and 50 photos.

Posted on Friday, June 7th, 2013
Under: Democratic Party, Joe Biden | 1 Comment »

Joe Biden in SF June 17 to raise money for Dems

Vice President Joe Biden will visit the Bay Area later this month to raise money for the Democratic National Committee.

Joe BidenBiden is set to headline a breakfast on Monday, June 17, at the home of Doug Hickey, 58, – CEO of BinWise, former managing director at Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, and former CEO of Critical Path – and his wife, attorney Dawn Ross, in San Francisco’s pricey Sea Cliff area.

Tickets start at $500 per person; $2,500 also buys a photo with Biden, with another $2,500 for each additional person in the photo. Tickets to a private “clutch reception” with Biden cost $10,000 per person. The event is capped at 125 people and 50 photos.

Shefali Razdan Duggal of San Francisco, a member of the DNC national finance committee member and the White House Council on Women and Girls, sent out the invite with “a very personal perspective which I identify with Vice President Joe Biden.”

“Our current Vice President is one of the most remarkably kind and authentic electeds whom I have had the privilege to encounter,” Duggal wrote. “The Vice President has met my very introverted and reserved mother, and the manner in which he treated her, with tremendous dignity and respect, has and will remain within her heart for many years to follow. I would genuinely encourage anyone who has the desire and/or ability to attend this breakfast event with Vice President Joe Biden to do so, for the reason to meet and speak with such a sincere and radiant spirit.”

Biden’s visit will come less than two weeks after President Barack Obama is scheduled to raise money for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this coming Thursday, June 6, at a reception in Palo Alto and a dinner in Portola Valley. Obama was last here in early April raising money for the DNC and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The Democrats need every penny they can raise: Most experts say their chances of taking back a House majority in 2014 are slim to none, and next year’s U.S. Senate playing field looks to be weighted in Republicans’ favor.

UPDATE @ 8:35 A.M. FRIDAY 6/7: The date of this event has changed.

Posted on Sunday, June 2nd, 2013
Under: campaign finance, Democratic Party, Joe Biden | 5 Comments »