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McNerney will skip convention, Garamendi unsure

Add Rep. Jerry McNerney to the list of Democratic elected officials who won’t attend the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., this September even as they try to retain their seats.

But it seems he has a pretty solid reason.

“The Congressman won’t be attending the convention, as it conflicts with his son’s wedding,” spokeswoman Lauren Smith said today.

McNerney, D-Stockton, is being challenged in the newly drawn 9th Congressional District by Ricky Gill, a recent law school graduate from Lodi whom the National Republican Congressional Committee named one of its Young Guns – a well-funded, well-organized up-and-comer taking on a vulnerable incumbent.

But Gill spokesman Colin Hunter said Gill hasn’t yet decided whether he’ll attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa this August; he declined comment on McNerney skipping Charlotte.

Various national media outlets have been building a list of Democrats avoiding the Charlotte convention, often from districts where President Obama’s approval ratings are low. Likewise, some Republicans who might benefit from distancing themselves from the GOP are avoiding Tampa.

It’s unclear whether Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, will go to Charlotte. Garamendi is challenged in the newly drawn 3rd Congressional District by Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann, another of the NRCC’s Young Guns.

“A decision has not been made yet,” Garamendi spokesman Donald Lathbury said today. “We’ll have a better sense of his schedule closer to the convention.”

A spokeswoman for Vann didn’t immediately return a call or an e-mail.

UPDATE @ 1:05 P.M.: Alee Lockman, Vann’s campaign manager, says “no plans have been made as of yet” on whether Vann will go to the GOP convention in Tampa.

Posted on Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
Under: 2012 Congressional Election, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Jerry McNerney, John Garamendi, Republican Party, Republican politics, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

Brown names Burton’s daughter to state board

Gov. Jerry Brown today nominated Kimiko Burton – daughter of California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton – to the State Personnel Board.

Kimiko Burton, 47, of San Francisco, has been a San Francisco deputy city attorney since 2003. Before that, she was San Francisco’s public defender – a job to which then-San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown had appointed her to fill a vacancy – since 2001; she lost the 2002 election for that office to Jeff Adachi. Willie Brown is a longtime, close political ally of her father, who at that time was the state Senate’s President Pro Tem.

Kimiko Burton had been director of the Mayor’s Criminal Justice Council in San Francisco under Willie Brown from 1996 to 2000, and staff attorney for the State Board of Equalization from 1995 to 1996. She holds a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

The State Personnel Board, according to its website, “was constitutionally created in 1934 to administer the civil service system and ensure that state employment is based on merit and free of political patronage.”

The nomination requires state Senate confirmation; the job pays $40,668. Burton is – need I say it? – a Democrat.

Posted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
Under: Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Jerry Brown | 3 Comments »

Dems and DTS gain, GOP loses voter registration

California’s Democratic and nonpartisan voter registration have increased from the last presidential election cycle to now, while Republican registration has fallen, according to the new report from Secretary of State Debra Bowen’s office.

The report shows that the 3.6 million voters who express no party preference now account for 21.2 percent of the state’s electorate, “a new all-time high” up from 19.4 percent (3 million voters) in January 2008, Bowen said.

The state’s 7.4 million registered Democrats – up from 6.6 million four years ago – now account for 43.6 percent of registered voters, up from 42.7 percent four years ago. Republican registration has dropped from 33.5 percent (5,197,897 voters) in January 2008 to 30.4 percent (5,170,592 voters) now.

“Republicans in California are a half percentage point away from an endangered species designation,” California Democratic Party spokesman Tenoch Flores said this afternoon. “Year after year voters see the GOP shrink away from their responsibilities and abdicate leadership on the tough issues facing our state. The numbers come as no surprise.”

California Republican Party spokeswoman Jennifer Kerns argued that while Golden State voters aren’t self-identifying as Republican, they’re voting like Republicans on the issues.

“Despite the increased numbers of decline-to-state voters, the fact is that Californians have voted our way on ballot initiatives, including overwhelmingly rejecting the last eight tax increases on the ballot,” she said via e-mail this afternoon. “The Republican Party has more work to do to communicate that THOSE principles are OUR principles, and we need to connect those dots for the voters. But the fact that voters are voting the way they do on those ballot measures indicates that they actually agree more with Republican principles of fiscal conservatism, smaller government, and less bureaucracy.”

California law requires statewide voter registration data updates 154, 60 and 15 days before each primary election, and 60 and 15 days before each general election. One “off-year” update is released in February of years with no regularly scheduled statewide election.

California’s new top-two primary system – in which the top two vote-getters in the primary advance to the general election, regardless of what parties they belong to – applies to statewide offices, state legislative offices and House and U.S. Senate offices, but does not apply to the presidential election, county party committees or local offices. Only the Democratic and American Independent parties are letting no-party-preference independents vote in their presidential primaries.

The last day to register to vote in the June 5 primary election is May 21; the last day to request a vote-by-mail ballot is May 29.

Posted on Tuesday, January 31st, 2012
Under: Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Republican Party, Republican politics, voter registration | 4 Comments »

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 bayarea@cadems.org or visit www.cadem.org/clintonvote2010rallies.

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 »