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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 A unpublished ruling is effective only in the case in which it’s filed and can’t be cited as precedent in other, similar cases; it’s a common practice in California and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 »

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 »