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Munger gives to GOP, firefighters give to Dems

Charles Munger Jr., the Palo Alto physicist who has been the single largest bankroller of California’s redistricting reform, gave $12,000 last Monday to the San Mateo County Republican Party.

Munger, the son of billionaire Warren Buffett’s investment partner, was the largest financial backer ($1.367 million) for 2008’s Proposition 11, which created the Citizens Redistricting Commission to take state legislative reapportionment out of the Legislature’s hands, and the proponent and bankroller ($12,157,442,83) for 2010’s Proposition 20, which widened the commission’s purview to include congressional districts.

Munger’s party affiliation has never been a secret, but some of his redistricting-reform allies bristled at the idea that his motivation for pursuing the issue was partisan.

In other political money news, the CDF Firefighters Small Contributor PAC – representing the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s firefighters – gave $100,000 to the Democratic State Central Committee of California last Tuesday. And the California Professional Firefighters PAC gave $52,005.31 to the committee last week. Why the big money? Is it the increased attention to first-responders’ salaries? Or the growing debate over whether or not there’s an urgent need to reform public employee pensions?

Other big spenders from last week:

The California Independent Petroleum Association put $49,500 into its own PAC last Thursday.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s independent expenditure committee gave $35,000 to the Democratic State Central Committee of California last Tuesday.

The California Credit Union League PAC gave $32,500 to the California Republican Party last Wednesday.

The Coalition for Reliable & Affordable Electricity – a committee of “concerned taxpayers, homeowners” and PG&E – put $25,450.13 last Tuesday into the committee that supported last June’s Proposition 16, the PG&E-conceived effort which would’ve required a two-thirds vote of the local electorate before a public agency could enter the retail power business. The measure failed, with only 47.2 of voters supporting it, but apparently there are still bills to be paid.

The California Association of Realtors’ California Real Estate Political Action Committee (CREPAC) gave $25,000 last Tuesday to the California Republican Party.

Posted on Monday, March 7th, 2011
Under: campaign finance, Democratic Party, redistricting, Republican Party | No Comments »

Kamala Harris to join President for Bay Area visit

California Attorney General Kamala Harris apparently will be joining President Barack Obama during his visit to the Bay Area tomorrow.

Harris had been scheduled to join former San Francisco Mayor and former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown to headline a $500-a-head fundraiser late tomorrow afternoon for the Alameda County Democratic Party, to be held at the Downtown Oakland office of Bell Investment Advisors.

But county party executive director Michael Colbruno just sent out a message that the event must be postponed:

I received notice from Attorney General Kamala Harris yesterday that she’s been asked to join President Obama during his visit to the Bay Area on Thursday. Therefore, she will have to reschedule the event scheduled for the same day. She asked that I let everyone know that she is extremely sorry for the late notice and for any inconvenience that it may cause, but that she will keep her commitment. Her office is working with me on scheduling a new time and I will send it to you as soon as it is confirmed.

Not surprising, given that Harris worked hard on Obama’s presidential campaign, and he in turn came out to support her campaign for attorney general last year.

It’s not clear whether she’ll take part in the meeting the President is scheduled to have with high-tech executives, or if she’ll be meeting with him at some other time and place.

Posted on Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
Under: Democratic Party, Kamala Harris, Obama presidency | No Comments »

Clintons head for California

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Bill Clinton

Bill Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is the featured speaker at Friday night’s Commonwealth Club event in San Francisco. (Click here for details.)

And Bill, her husband and former president, will headline a rally on Friday and Sunday rally with gubernatorial candidate and Attorney Jerry Brown. The Friday event is at UCLA, followed by a  San Jose State University rally on Sunday.

Wait? Don’t those two dislike each other? Never mind. San Francisco Mayor and lieutenant governor candidate Gavin Newsom will on hand to buffer any leftover hostilities as Democrats push back against predictions of a mid-term Republican wave.

The Vote 2010 Rally in the Bay Area begins at 6:30 p.m., San Jose State University event center, 290 S. 7th St., San Jose. To RSVP, email or visit

In a flyer distributed on campus, the organizers say folks who participate in a pre-rally phone banking event will receive preferred access to the rally.

Posted on Monday, October 11th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Democratic Party | No Comments »

Alco Dems hire executive director

The Alameda County Democratic Party has hired Michael Colbruno as its new executive director.

Read on for the full news release.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, August 12th, 2010
Under: Alameda County, Democratic Party, Democratic politics | No Comments »

Young Dems, GOP Liberty Caucus back Prop. 19

Despite Chairman John Burton urging an endorsement, the California Democratic Party’s Executive Board chose this weekend to remain neutral on Proposition 19, the marijuana-legalization initiative on November’s ballot, and don’t hold your breath waiting for a California Republican Party endorsement.

But that doesn’t mean some Democratic and GOP blocs aren’t solidly behind it. The California Young Democrats, for example, endorsed it this weekend.

“A major part of our campaign strategy will be engaging young and first-time voters who are excited to come to the polls to support our initiative, and we think the Democratic Party will really benefit from the extra turnout that our campaign will provide,” said Yes on Proposition 19 Field Director James Rigdon.

The Young Dems tout the law-enforcement cost savings as well as the potential local tax revenue legalization and taxation could bring in. Far over on the other side of the aisle, the Republican Liberty Caucus of California – the Ron Paul-loving “Constitutional Republicans” – endorsed the measure this weekend, too, but in a legalzization-without-taxation stance.

“Clearly the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle free men and women living on free soil to grow and smoke marijuana,” said RLCCA Secretary Parke Bostrom. “Prop. 19 respects this right, while at the same time highlighting that under our Constitution, the federal government does not have authority to control the sale and possession of marijuana.”

RLCCA Chairman Matt Heath noted that although Prop. 19 would allow regulation and taxation of the drug, it doesn’t require it. “The RLCCA recommends voting ‘YES’ on Prop. 19, while at the same time strongly opposing any taxes and regulations that local governments may try to impose.”

John Dennis, the Republican nominee to challenge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the 8th Congressional District, said Prop. 18 would help “restore freedom to adults over what they choose to consume. In addition, it will help reduce violence between rival drug gangs and law enforcement along the U.S./Mexico border. While not perfect, Prop. 19 is a big step in the right direction.”

More on a new, well-known endorser of Prop. 19, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, July 20th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, ballot measures, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, marijuana, Republican Party, Republican politics | 5 Comments »

Tag: Shameless self-promotion

If  you aren’t doing anything about 8 p.m. tonight, come on over to the Orinda Community Church where I will be talking about Tuesday’s election results with the members of the Lamorinda Democratic Club.

The church is at 10 Irwin Way in Orinda.

You don’t have to be a Democrat to attend but the club will charge you a few bucks admission. (They serve snacks and wine, though, so it’s not a bad deal.)

Posted on Thursday, June 10th, 2010
Under: Democratic Party, Democratic politics | 2 Comments »

Dems deem East Bay AG candidate ‘not viable’

Mike SchmierEmeryville attorney Mike Schmier is steamed that despite his place on the Demcoratic primary ballot for Attorney General, the California Democratic Party won’t let him speak or stand for endorsement at its convention next month in Los Angeles.

Schmier, 65, will be on the Democratic primary ballot along with former Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo; San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris; former Facebook executive Chris Kelly; Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance; Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara; and Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico, D-Newark. Those six were “deemed viable and eligible to seek our endorsement,” according to a letter issued Friday
by California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton and other statewide party officers; Schmier was not.

This is Schmier’s third Democratic primary bid for Attorney General; he ran in 1998 and 2002. He also ran in the 2000 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, challenging incumbent Dianne Feinstein, and he ran for governor in the great recall circus of 2003.

His platform each time has centered on the cause that he and his brother, attorney Ken Schmier, have made their crusade: Ending the practice of “nonpublication” of court rulings. A unpublished ruling is effective only in the case in which it’s filed and can’t be cited as precedent in other, similar cases; it’s a common practice in California and federal appellate courts, but the Schmiers and others contend it erodes courts’ accountability to the people and to the law. Mike Schmier argues that fixing the economy, education, health care, housing, environmental protection and transportation all depends on restoring uniform and equal enforcement of the law.

(UPDATE @ 12:10 P.M. MONDAY: Mike Schmier reminds me that the federal courts already ended their old practice forbidding citation in 2006, and citation of unpublished opinions issued since January 1, 2007 may not be prohibited. The Schmiers continue their battle trying to get California’s appellate courts to do the same.)

California Democratic Party spokesman Tenoch Flores said the party’s convention rules state that the party’s statewide officers in consultation with the chairman determine which Democratic candidates for statewide office are viable and eligible to seek the party’s endorsement.

“As best I can tell this candidate has no endorsements listed on his own web site and has either received zero contributions to his campaign or the contributions don’t rise above the threshold required to be listed on the SoS (Secretary of State) web site,” Flores e-mailed me. “I’m sure those were among the factors that statewide officers took into consideration when determining which candidates were viable and eligible for party endorsement.”

The party is returning to Schmier the banners, videos and promotional gifts he had intended to use at the convention. Schmier says it’s “marginalization” and “fascism.”

It’s an interesting situation. Does anyone who manages to get on the ballot deserve time at the party’s podium? If so, it’ll get crowded, because Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner aren’t the only major-party gubernatorial candidates this year – there are six other Democrats and six other Republicans on the ballot. Should all of them get equal time from their respective parties?

On the other hand, Schmier is the only Democrat on the ballot who was deemed ineligible for his party’s endorsement. Another way to look at it would be the shallowness of Schmier’s pockets: How seriously would the Democratic Party have taken Chris Kelly, who also has never held elected office, had he not put up $4 million of his own money for his campaign? And do endorsements follow money, or vice versa?

Posted on Wednesday, March 31st, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Attorney General, Democratic Party | 4 Comments »

One-stop shopping for Democratic candidates

The Coalition of Bay Area Young Democrats, conjunction with the San Francisco Young Democrats, will host a massive candidates’ forum at 1 p.m. this Saturday, Feb. 6 at the SEIU Local 87 hall, 240 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco.

Free and open to the public, the forum aims to hear from, and give attendees a chance to ask questions of, candidates in some of 2010′s highest-profile races. Confirmed speakers include gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown; lieutenant governor candidate Janice Hahn; Attorney General candidates Kamala Harris, Chris Kelly, Pedro Nava and Alberto Torrico; incumbent state Treasurer Bill Lockyer; Insurance Commissioner candidates Hector De La Torre and Dave Jones; Superintendent of Public instruction candidates Larry Aceves and Tom Torlakson; and incumbent Board of Equalization member Betty Yee.

Posted on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Alberto Torrico, Attorney General, Bill Lockyer, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Elections, Janice Hahn, Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris, Lt. Governor, Pedro Nava, Political events, Tom Torlakson | 1 Comment »

Protestors prepare to meet Obama in SF

So President Barack Obama will be here in the Bay Area tomorrow for a Democratic Party fundraiser at San Francisco’s Westin St. Francis Hotel; he’s flying in to San Francisco International Airport tomorrow afternoon and leaving Friday morning. A $500 ticket is for standing room only; a $1,000 VIP ticket gets you a seat.

I see various groups of conservative activists are gearing up for street protests outside the hotel – some with general complaints, some focused more on health care reform. And I see at least one group from the other side of the political spectrum will be there calling for “Healthcare Not Warfare! Money for People’s Needs, Not the Pentagon!;” “End the Occupations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Haiti!;” “U.S. Out of Latin America – Restore President Zelaya in Honduras!;” and “Overturn NAFTA and CAFTA!”

What, nothing on his failure to deliver so far on his promise to end the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy? Oh, I’m sure there’ll be some people there for that, too.

And of course the Republican National Committee has something to say about it, as well, per spokesman Jahan Wilcox:

“President Obama is heading to San Francisco for a fancy dinner in the penthouse suite of the St. Francis Hotel. Rather than holding a public event to explain why California has lost over 477,000 jobs since President Obama signed his so-called economic stimulus package, Democrats opted for a private event where Californians will only be able to catch a brief glimpse of their president if they sign over a $500 check to the Democratic Party.”

UPDATE @ 4:31 P.M.: Hearing that CODEPINK and other groups plan to protest outside the event, San Francisco NAACP chapter president and Third Baptist Church pastor Amos Brown said, noted “President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership in working to bring the nations of the world together. We should stand together as Americans and support the President’s efforts to bring peace to our people and end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

“These so-called activists are putting their own personal political agenda ahead of what is good for our country,” Brown continued. “We must let President Obama finish the work he has started to get our troops home safely and end these unnecessary wars. I call on these people to stand with me in support of the President.”

Posted on Wednesday, October 14th, 2009
Under: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, General, Obama presidency | 4 Comments »

CD10: Get your loophole here

In the interest of keeping up with the fast-moving events of the 10th Congressional District special election, here is a round-up of what caught my attention today. (Sidenote: I’ll post round-ups between now and Sept. 1 as warranted. You can also find the latest list and links to the declared candidates and/or those who have filed for the seat at the bottom of this post.)


From the Arcane Political Bureaucracy files, the Democratic congressional candidates have been busy exploiting a loophole in the California Democratic Party bylaws in an effort to secure the party’s endorsement.

Here’s how it works.

The party delegates who live in the 10th District will hold a caucus on Aug. 1 at a yet-to-be named location hold an endorsement vote. Delegates within the district typically include about 100 or so elected officials and their appointees, members of the Central Committee and other local activists. The winner must obtain at least 60 percent of the vote of delegates who attend the caucus.

But here’s the rub: Democrats with authority to appoint delegates to the party from throughout California may appoint as delegates any Democrat in the state. There are no restrictions based on their home districts. For example, a San Diego Democratic Assemblymember can appoint Yreka registered Democrats as his delegates.

So, several of the CD10 Democratic candidates’ campaign teams have in the past couple of weeks lobbied elected officials from up and down the state and asked them to appoint as their delegates folks who live in the 10th District and support their respective candidates.

As a result, the number of delegates in the 10th District has expanded to as many as 300, sources say. Reports put state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier in the delegate count lead over Lt. Governor John Garamendi and Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan.

Folks can debate the value of a party endorsement in a low turnout primary election where most of the voters will be die-hard partisans who probably already know the candidates. On the other hand, the winner can take advantage of the California Democratic Party’s reduced bulk mailing rate.

But for the most part, it sounds like an exercise in campaign organization rather than democracy.




Tiffany Attwood of Danville –

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan of Alamo –

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier of Concord –

Lt. Governor John Garamendi of Walnut Grove –

Adriel Hampton of Dublin –

Anthony Woods of Fairfield –


David Harmer of Dougherty Valley –

David Peterson of Walnut Creek –

John Toth of Pleasant Hill

Chris Bunch of Fairfield – (added 7/8/09)


Jeremy Cloward of Pleasanton Hill –


Mary McIlroy of El Cerrito -


Jerome Denham of Walnut Creek –


Gino Van Gundy of Fairfield –

Posted on Thursday, July 9th, 2009
Under: 2009 CD10 special election, Democratic Party, Democratic politics | 1 Comment »