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Skinner to GOPers: Follow Specter to our tent

Well, you’ve gotta give Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, extra points for cheekiness: Today she sent to her Republican legislative colleagues an invitation to switch to the “Spectacular” Democratic Party, a la Arlen Specter.

“Democrats will soon have 60 votes in the US Senate and be able to make many decisions without filibusters—but it will take a bit of time for the final stages of legal challenges and to finally count the votes from last November’s election in Minnesota,” she wrote. “If you act quickly, California can lead the nation rather than following. We need 54 Democrats in the Assembly and 27 in the Senate to match this.”

As benefits of being Democrats, she cited:

  • “Big tent, not a pup tent”
  • “No pledges”
  • “No recalls”
  • “Large party with increasing registrants”
  • “Diverse Democratic jury for future advancement and primary electorates”
  • Posted on Wednesday, April 29th, 2009
    Under: Arlen Specter, Assembly, Democratic Party, Nancy Skinner, Republican Party, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

    Potential CD10 candidates differ on May 19 propositions

    Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

    Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

    Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

    Lt. Gov. John Garamendi

    California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi

    The special election date in the 10th Congressional district to replace outgoing Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, has not been set yet. And two of the three people on the stage at last night’s Contra Costa County Democratic Central Committee meeting in Martinez have not made a final decision about their candidacies.

    But their positions on the six ballot measures on the May 19 special election ballot could not have been any clearer.

    On the yes side is the man who is definitely running for Congress, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, along with his potential challenger, Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

    California Lt. Governor John Garamendi of Walnut Grove opposes them, a view held by a majority of voters according to recent polls.

    Central Committee Chairman Chuck Carpenter gave each legislator time to make a statement to the group and answer a few questions. These appearances before the local party leaders — where a lot of the work on the ground during an election gets done — are part of the courting process that serious candidates undertake when they run for office.

    Garamendi says the propositions will further tie up California’s already knotted budget process while the deficits continue to mount. (Click here to view the voting pamphlet with all the details of the measures.)

    “Where do I stand on the measures? No, no, no, no, no, no,” Garmendi said.

    Of course, it is far easier for Garamendi to say no to the measures. Unlike state legislators Buchanan and DeSaulnier, he did not note vote to put them on the ballot as part of the negotiated budget settlement. A lieutenant governor typically plays little or no role in budget negotiations.

    Buchanan, who came to the meeting to talk about the propositions and not about a congressional race, reluctantly endorsed the measures even though she said it felt like she was “selling her soul to the devil” when she voted to put them on the ballot.

    But Buchanan said the impacts of failing to adopt the budget negotiated between the Democrats, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and a handful of Republicans were too dear.

    And she said she will vote for the ballot measures — holding her nose — because the alternative is also too costly. If voters do not pass these measures, the state deficit could double from $8 billion to $16 billion and more draconian cuts will be on the table.

    DeSaulnier was the most positive of the three speakers. He not onnly pointed out the fiscal impacts of failing to pass the measures but talked about a few of the pluses of the legislation, including what he views as added protection for education funding.

    And he also promoted, as a solution to the annual budget stalemate between Democrats and Republicans, an end to the two-thirds voting threshold in the Legislature to a pass a budget or new taxes. There is a bill in process that would place the question before voters in 2010 and proponents are also prepared to seek signatures and place an initiative on the ballot if the Legislature fails to do it.

    Posted on Friday, April 17th, 2009
    Under: Congressional District 10, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Democratic Party, Democratic politics, Joan Buchanan, John Garamendi, Mark DeSaulnier | No Comments »

    Governing from the center

    Berkeley Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun Magazine and chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, sent out a missive early today discussing “why many of us were shocked and deeply disappointed when we learned on Thursday that Congressman Rahm Emanuel was to be the Chief of Staff in the Obama White House.”

    Emanuel, for those who don’t recall, was the Congressman who traveled the country in 2006 finding “suitable” candidates in “swing districts” to run against Republican incumbents, and in many instances he succeeded. But his theory of how to succeed was destructive: he sought the most conservative possible candidates in each district, insisting that local Democratic Party organizations reject more liberal candidates who, he feared, might not win.

    There were many among the House Democrats who deplored this tactic. The main issue on the mind of the electorate was the war in Iraq, and public opinion had moved so far in opposition to that war that the Democratic leadership in the House was pushed to proclaim that it would cut off funding for the war if Democrats won control of Congress. Well, the outcome was that Democrats did win control, but since the candidates that Emanuel picked were more conservative and militarist than the mainstream of the Party, they were not reliable allies when it came to voting against war funding. Instead of cutting fund for the war, Nancy Pelosi’s House increased the funding, explaining that they had to appear “responsible” in order to solidify their control of Congress in 2008..

    Clever? Not for the people, Americans and Iraqis, killed or wounded in the meantime.

    This was no mistake on Emanuel’s part. Rahm Emanuel has a long history of militarist ideology behind him. His father was a member of the ultra-right-wing terrorist organization Etzel that killed British civilians as part of their anti-British struggle in Palestine in the 1940s. Emanuel, himself a citizen of Israel as well as the United States, has been one of several Congressional leaders enforcing the “Israel Lobby” concensus on the Democrats, in the process shutting out the peace voices that believe Israel’s security would be better served by the U.S. putting pressure on Israel to end the Occupation, move the Wall to inside the pre-67 boundaries, and remove the settlers from the West Bank or tell them to live there as Palestinian citizens.

    It’s not just the pro-peace and reconciliation forces that are unlikely to be given a serious hearing in a White House in which Rahm Emanuel controls who gets to talk to the President. Emanuel will almost certainly be protecting Obama from all of us spiritual progressives and those of us who describe ourselves as the Religious Left-so that our commitment to single-payer universal health care, carbon taxes for environmental protection, a Homeland Security strategy based on generosity and implemented through a Global Marshall Plan, will be unlikely to get a serious hearing in the White House.

    Lest you think this is just another case of Democrats eating their own young, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, issued a statement yesterday blasting — you guessed it — Obama’s pick of Emanuel: “This is an ironic choice for a President-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil, and govern from the center.”

    But Boehner and Lerner surely both know that governing from the center is exactly what Obama intends to do — it’s just that neither Boehner nor Lerner are anywhere near the center themselves.

    Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee has slid smoothly from producing hit pieces on candidate Obama to producing hit pieces on president-elect Obama.

    Yesterday’s “OBAMA’S BROKEN PROMISE” briefing e-mail whined about Emanuel’s appointment, and today’s “MORE PARTISAN PLAYERS” piece complains about how campaign strategist David Axelrod — whose Chicago-based firm‘s client list is a who’s who of local, state and national Democrats — is likely to get a senior White House advisory post.

    Um… duh. Bridging partisan divides doesn’t mean Obama won’t name Democrats and Democratic operatives to his administration; they just have to be capable of implementing his vision. Every president has political advisors, and every smart president hires the toughest, smartest, most bare-knuckled people he knows for such posts. Did the RNC think Obama would invite Karl Rove back to the White House in the spirit of bipartisanship? Or appoint only independents? Absurd.

    And for one of these notoriously partisan “RNC Research Briefings” to complain about partisanship is the height of unmitigated gall.

    Posted on Friday, November 7th, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, General, Republican Party | No Comments »

    This week in big-time campaign cash

    Topping this week’s roundup of big ($25,000 or more) spenders on California campaigns and committees is the $1.25 million that Equality California dumped Wednesday into the campaign against Proposition 8, the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

    Other notable No on 8 contributions this week included $500,000 Tuesday from GeoCities cofounder, venture capitalist and philanthropist David Bohnett of Beverly Hills; $250,000 Wednesday from the Service Employees International Union’s California State Council; $100,000 Monday from San Francisco’s Robert Haas, chairman emeritus of Levi Strauss Inc.; $70,000 Saturday from the National Center for Lesbian Rights; $50,000 Saturday from Anita May Rosenstein of Beverly Hills, a philanthropist and and founder of AR Asset Management Inc.; $25,000 Monday from Vinik Asset Management CEO Mark Hostetter of Boston; $25,000 Tuesday from Johnson Family Foundation chairman James Johnson of New York City; and $25,000 Wednesday from Angle Slate Inc. of Los Angeles.

    Fieldstead & Co. — the personal philanthropic organization through which banking heir Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson Jr. funds conservative causes — put up $300,000 Wednesday to support Proposition 8, bringing its total thus far to $900,000. Other contributions supporting Proposition 8 this week included $100,000 Monday from the Brea-based Evangelical Christian Credit Union; $100,000 Tuesday from Los Altos retiree Joseph Moran; and then $25,000 each Tuesday from former teacher Susan Facer of Rancho Palos Verdes, retired Safeway executive and former Oakland Mormon Temple president Lorenzo Hoopes, Atherton property manager Parley Livingston, and Jaquetia Zinn of San Jose. Laura Armstrong of Irvine gave $25,000 Wednesday to support the measure.

    The Democratic State Central Committee of California gave a total of $288,473 Monday and Tuesday to Manuel Perez‘s campaign for the 80th Assembly District seat; $164,500 Thursday to Fran Florez‘s campaign for the 30th Assembly District; and $130,000 Tuesday to former Assemblywoman Hannah Beth Jackson‘s campaign for the 19th State Senate District seat. The Santa Barbara County Democratic Central Committee kicked in $28,000 Thursday for Jackson’s campaign.

    The Burlingame-based California Teachers Association gave $350,000 Monday to oppose Proposition 4, the proposed state constitutional amendment which would require doctors to inform the parent or guardian of a minor 48 hours before providing an abortion to that minor. That same day, the New Haven, Conn.-based Knights of Columbus gave $200,000 Monday to support the measure.

    Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital anted up $347,812.50 Monday to support Proposition 3, which would authorize almost $1 billion in bonds to be repaid from state’s General Fund to pay for construction, expansion, remodeling, renovation, furnishing and equipping of children’s hospitals.

    The New York City-based Fund for Animals and the Washington, D.C.-based Humane Society of the United States each gave $250,000 Tuesday to the campaign for Proposition 2, which would prohibit confinement of certain farm animals in ways that doesn’t let them turn freely, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs; Gil Michaels of Beverly Hills, owner of GNM Financial Services, gave $50,000 Monday, while retired hedge fund manager Michelle Thomson of Philadelphia and Merriman Curhan Ford & Co. of San Francsico each gave $25,000 Thursday. Ponying up against Proposition 2 this week was the California Grocers Association, which gave $25,000 Wednesday.

    The Service Employees International Union’s California State Council gave $200,000 Tuesday to the joint campaign to defeat Proposition 6 and Proposition 9. Proposition 6 is a tough-on-crime package including adult prosecution for gang-related criminals 14 and up; annual criminal background checks for public housing residents; harsher bail conditions and penalties for certain crimes; and so on. Proposition 9 would expand crime victims’ rights including restitution.

    The campaign for Proposition 1A, the $10 billion bond measure for high-speed rail, got two big contributions this week: $25,000 each Tuesday from the American Council of Engineering Companies California and from the Members’ Voice of the State Building Trades, a “section 527″ group set up by the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California.

    And billionaire former Univision chairman and CEO Jerry Perenchio gave $25,000 Wednesday to the campaign for Proposition 11, the legislative redistricting reform measure.

    Posted on Friday, September 26th, 2008
    Under: Assembly, campaign finance, Democratic Party, Elections, General, same-sex marriage | No Comments »

    Lee/Reich, Bass/Newsom events Saturday

    Interesting happenings in Oakland this Saturday, Sept. 20:

    Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich, now a University of California, Berkeley professor, will discuss the need to craft better economic policy and how Lee’s 9th Congressional District can help end the war in Iraq from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday in the James Moore Theater at the Oakland Museum, 1000 Oak St. (Lee and Reich were early supporters of Barack Obama, so don’t be surprised if that’s where the discussion is headed.) It’s free and open to the public but seating is limited and reservations are required; if you want to go, call 510-763-0370 to provide your name, phone number and e-mail address.

    Then, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom will headline while state Treasurer Bill Lockyer emcees the 38th Annual Alameda County Democratic Unity Dinner, a 6 p.m. reception and 7:30 p.m. dinner Saturday at the Oakland Airport Hilton, 1 Hegenberger Road. All interested Democrats are invited to attend; tickets cost $75 per person in advance and $125 for patrons, and tables cost $1,000 and up, all available by calling 510-263-5222. A limited number of door tickets will be available at $85 each.

    Posted on Thursday, September 18th, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Barbara Lee, Bill Lockyer, Democratic Party, Gavin Newsom, General, Karen Bass | No Comments »

    This week in big-time campaign cash

    I’m including last Friday, Sept. 5 in this week’s roundup of big ($25,000 or more) spenders on California campaigns and committees, as I was out of town that day and had to do last week’s post a day early.

    And what a day it was to miss, as 37 egg-related companies from across the nation chose last Friday to lay a golden egg totalling $3,804,443.41 upon the campaign to defeat Proposition 2, which would prohibit confinement of certain farm animals in ways that doesn’t let them turn freely, lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs. (For brevity’s sake, I’ll save the detailed list of donors for after the jump.)

    Does that seem like a lot of separate entities giving a lot of money — especially when you add in dozens more contributions in increments smaller than $25,000 also reported Friday — all on one day? Sure looked that way to Proposition 2′s proponents, who yesterday filed a new complaint (here and here) with the Fair Political Practices Commission. The complaint notes that United Egg Producers had listed many of these contributors as already committing funds in a July 15 fundraising letter, but California law generally requires all donations of $5,000 or more to a ballot-measure campaign be reported within 10 business days. Said Prop. 2 campaign manager Jennifer Fearing: “The opponents of Prop 2 have been caught red-handed in one of the biggest campaign money laundering schemes of all time.”

    That’ll be for the FPPC to decide. Meanwhile, only two donations were made in favor of Prop. 2 this week — $25,000 on Monday from Farm Sanctuary Inc. of Watkins Glen, N.Y., and $25,000 Thursday from Animal Welfare Advocacy Inc. of Mamaroneck, N.Y.

    In other news, 37 donors gave a total of $1,207,501 this week in support of Proposition 8, the proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. (Again, see a detailed list after the jump.) Meanwhile, the National Center for Lesbian Rights put up another $50,000 last Friday to oppose Prop. 2; Puma Springs Vineyards owner Barbara Grassechi of Healdsburg gave $30,000 Monday; Levco CEO Kathy Levinson of Los Altos gave $30,000 Thursday; New York theatrical producer Ted Snowden gave $25,000 last Friday; and San Francisco housewife Dagmar Dolby gave $25,000 Monday.

    The California Republican Party gave $591,000 Wednesday to Danny Gilmore‘s campaign for the 30th Assembly District seat, and $400,000 Monday to Gary Jeandron‘s campaign for the 80th Assembly District seat.

    The California Democratic Party gave $204,104 Monday to Manuel Perez‘s campaign for the 80th Assembly District seat, and $156,000 last Friday to Hannah Beth Jackson‘s campaign for the 19th State Senate District seat; Jackson picked up another $27,500 that same day from the Santa Barbara Democratic Party, and $55,000 more from the county party today.

    Westport Fuel Systems Inc. of Long Beach anted up $250,000 Wednesday to support Proposition 10, a $5 billion bond measure to provide cash incentives to buyers of certain high-fuel-economy and alternative-fuel vehicles as well as to companies researching and developing renewable energy and cleaner cars.

    Retired Cisco Systems chairman John P. Morgridge of Portola Valley gave $100,000 Monday to the campaign against Proposition 4, the proposed state constitutional amendment which would require doctors to inform the parent or guardian of a minor 48 hours before providing an abortion to that minor.

    New York City-based infrastructure consulting and construction management giant Parsons Brinckerhoff Americas Inc. gave $30,000 Tuesday in support of Proposition 1A, the $10 billion bond measure for high-speed rail.

    Brian L. Harvey of Los Angeles, president of the Cypress Land Company, gave $100,000 Wednesday to the campaign for Proposition 11, the legislative redistricting reform measure; the Western Electrical Contractors Association PAC had given $25,000 Monday.

    Detailed lists of No on 2 and Yes on 8 donors, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Friday, September 12th, 2008
    Under: Assembly, California State Senate, campaign finance, Democratic Party, Elections, General, Republican Party | 3 Comments »

    Thursday’s DNC video highlights

    New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson:

    2000 Democratic presidential nominee and former Vice President Al Gore:

    And I’ll post Barack Obama‘s presidential nomination acceptance speech as soon as I’ve got a clean clip…

    UPDATE @ 9:23 P.M.: Here it is…

    Posted on Thursday, August 28th, 2008
    Under: Al Gore, Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Democratic Party, Elections | No Comments »

    Wednesday’s DNC video highlights

    U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., moves to halt the roll call and nominate Barack Obama by acclimation:

    Former President Bill Clinton:

    2004 Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.:

    And I’ll update with Joe Biden‘s vice-presidential nomination acceptance speech — and his special unannounced guest — as soon as clean clips are available…

    UPDATE @ 10:17 P.M.: Here we are:

    Posted on Wednesday, August 27th, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Democratic Party, Elections, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry | No Comments »

    Tuesday’s DNC video highlights

    U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio:

    U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.:

    U.S. Senate candidate and former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner:

    And I’ll add Hillary Clinton as soon as I find a clean clip…

    UPDATE @ 9:22 P.M: Here she is, in three segments:

    Posted on Tuesday, August 26th, 2008
    Under: Barbara Boxer, Democratic Party, Dennis Kucinich, Elections, General, Hillary Clinton | No Comments »

    Oakland Clintonite lauds Michelle Obama’s speech

    Oakland attorney Meredith Brown, a Hillary Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention, sent me a dispatch in the wee hours of this morning saying she was extremely impressed with Michelle Obama‘s speech Monday night: “Michelle made us love her. People cried and cheered as if Michelle was running for president. Now we, as Democrats, delegates, women and mothers are invested in the Obama family.”

    Read Brown’s full report, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Tuesday, August 26th, 2008
    Under: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Elections, Hillary Clinton | No Comments »