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Clinton dazzles Stockton late Wednesday night

A sodden crowd of 1,000 stood in the rain for hours but they greeted former President Bill Clinton late Wednesday night with the enthusiasm of a reinvigorated Democratic Party who might find itself in charge of Congress next week.

Clinton lived up to his reputation as a dynamic and inspirational speaker who charmed this crowd into forgetting their wet shoes, damp hair and the late hour. He was more than an hour late from a Prop. 87 rally and Democratic Party fund-raiser in San Francisco.

“Oh, I wish Clinton was running again!” gushed one fan, who stood on the Stockton Airport tarmac amidst a sea of umbrellas and makeshift rain shelters. One woman used the plastic top of a grocery store sandwich tray and another wrapped one of those shiny, automobile sunshade around her shoulders.

It was billed as rally for Democratic candidates and several shared the stage with Clinton, including state Insurance Commissioner and lt. governor candidate John Garamendi along with state senator and Secretary of State candidate Debra Bowen.

But unquestionably, the night belonged to congressional District 11 candidate Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton, a mathemetician who defied conventional political wisdom and now runs neck-and-neck in a Republican district with seven-term incumbent Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy.

Here he was standing in front of 1,000 people and the press shoulder-to-shoulder with one of the nation’s brightest and charismatic orators in modern political times.

McNerney has struggled to learn public speaking skills; he has described the prospect of delivering a speech as terrifying experience. And an editorial writer recently opined that McNerney had a “charisma deficit,” a harsh if not entirely inaccurate description.

“Yeah, he’s pretty nervous,” said a McNerney aide.

But McNerney delivered a perfectly adequate speech and even when he flubbed a few words, he laughed it off and the audience laughed with him. The evening ranks as one of the high points of McNerney’s campaign, a moment that could only be topped if he wins on Tuesday.

The audience, meanwhile, had no clue that the evening’s biggest potential disaster for McNerney was averted.

Just hours earlier, the campaign staff of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides put out press advisory saying he would appear at the Stockton rally, too.

That couldn’t have pleased the McNerney campaign staff, who had worked long and hard to persuade Clinton’s advance team to make the stop in Stockton on the former president’s way from San Francisco to Nevada, where he will campaign today.

This was McNerney’s chance to shine among voters who will decide whether he will go to Congress. The last thing he needed was a gubernatorial hopeful behind in the polls to hijack his event.

But a subsequent press advisory said Angelides would instead appear with Clinton and House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, at a fund-raiser at the Warfield in San Francisco earlier in the evening.

Inquiring minds want to know: Why was Angelides scrambling at the last minute for face-time with Clinton?

Posted on Thursday, November 2nd, 2006
Under: congressional district 11, election 2006 | No Comments »

Former President Clinton to campaign for McNerney tonight

Former President Bill Clinton will campaign with congressional District 11 Democratic nominee Jerry McNerney at a rally tonight in Stockton.

McNerney is running against incumbent GOP Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy.

McNerney will introduce Clinton at a Get out the Vote Rally for Democratic candidates for local, state, and federal office.

The rally will be held at the Stockton Jet Center, 6364 South Lindbergh St. in Stockton starting at 9 p.m.

To register for the rally, go to McNerney’s web site at

CORRECTION: I was originally told that Clinton had never been to Stockton prior to this visit but I’ve learned visited in 1992.

Posted on Wednesday, November 1st, 2006
Under: congressional district 11, election 2006 | No Comments »

Holy moly II: Independent poll shows McNerney leading Pombo

A new poll shows congressional District 11 Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney beating incumbent Republican Richard Pombo by 2 percentage points: 48 to 46 percent.

The poll was conducted by a Majority Watch, a project of RT Strategies and Constituent Dynamics, and does not appear at first blush to be connected to either campaign.

Read the poll here.

The poll was conducted Oct. 24-26 with 983 likely voters and margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent points.

Posted on Monday, October 30th, 2006
Under: congressional district 11, election 2006 | No Comments »

Is that Bill Clinton on the other line?

We know the former prez is on our airwaves urging us to vote yes on Prop. 87, which taxes oil to pay for alternative energy.

But Clinton has also recorded a robocall for Congressional District 11, where he’ll urge residents to vote Democratic.

Campaign finance laws preclude him from mentioning Democratic nominee Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton by name.

But McNerney is the only Democrat on the ballot running against Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, so it won’t be tough to decipher the message.

Oh, and Clinton probably intends for folks to vote for all the Democrats on the ticket, particularly Phil Angelides, who trails GOP incumbent Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Posted on Monday, October 30th, 2006
Under: congressional district 11, election 2006 | No Comments »

First Lady to campaign for Pombo in Pleasanton

First Lady Laura Bush will rally for Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, in Pleasanton on Friday, the congressman’s campaign confirmed.

It will probably be a morning event although the time and specific location has not been finalized, campaign spokesman Brian Kennedy said.

It is a rally for Pombo supporters and not a fund-raiser, he said.

The Pombo campaign must have been eavesdropping on Sunday speeches by Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney, who said he wanted his opponent to bring the president back to the district.

“President Bush’s visit was the best thing to happen to my campaign,” McNerney told supporters at fund-raisers in Morgan Hill, Portola Valley and San Ramon on Sunday. “He helped me raise more money. It attracted the national party’s attention and it helped get my name out in the media.”

McNerney was referring to President George W. Bush, of course, who held a fund-raiser for Pombo in Stockton a few weeks ago.

It’s uncertain whether Laura Bush will galvanize anti-Bush voters to write big checks to McNerney.

Laura Bush has considerably higher approval ratings than her husband.

In February, the Gallup Poll reported that 82 percent of Americans approved of the job Laura Bush is doing as first lady, nearly 30 points higher than her husband’s rating.

Laura Bush is viewed as a GOP campaign star and has appeared in recent days on behalf of Republicans in Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Posted on Monday, October 30th, 2006
Under: election 2006 | No Comments »

Former President Bill Clinton in San Francisco on Wednesday

Former President Bill Clinton will be in San Francisco Wednesday for a “Win Back the House” fund-raiser with House Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel.

Democrats hope to retake majority control of the House of Representative and possibly the Senate in the mid-term election on Nov. 7. The Democrats need to gain 15 seats in the House and six in the Senate.

But wait, there’s more. Jackson Browne, Graham Nash and Fred Martin & the Levite Camp will perform. The event will unfold at the Warfield on Market St. in San Francisco.

Okay, so how much will a part in the Democrat’s effort to take control cost you?

For a mere $12,500 per person, you could attend a private reception with Clinton and table seating at the stage.

The $1,000 ticket will get you stage seating. And for $250, enjoy general seating.

Posted on Monday, October 30th, 2006
Under: election 2006 | No Comments »

Rep. George Miller predicts Democratic win in November

The Democrats will win majority control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate in the upcoming mid-term election, predicted 32-year veteran Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez.

“We can clearly see winning the 15 seats we need in the House and some of the analysts are saying we will take the six we need to win the Senate,” Miller told the Contra Costa Times editorial board this morning. “We’re seeing a fundamental shift and opponents (to incumbent Republicans) that were laughable six months ago are now in play.”

Miller includes on his list of potential Democratic gains the congressional District 11 contest between GOP Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy and Democrat Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton, and District 4, where incumbent GOP John Doolittle faces Democrat Charlie Brown.

“Are Pombo and Doolittle in trouble? Absolutely,” said Miller, who is in line to assume the chairmanship of the House Workforce and Education Committee if Democrats prevail. “All the indications are there.”

Read the Contra Costa Times for the full story.

Posted on Wednesday, October 11th, 2006
Under: election 2006 | No Comments »

Got stamps?

Contra Costa and Alameda counties’ ballot is so heavy that for the first time, folks that vote by mail will need to place two first-class stamps on the envelope before dropping it into the mailbox.

Election officials will begin mailing ballots to folks that vote by mail starting Tuesday.

Lack of postage is just one of several growing problems for election clerks as greater numbers of voters opt to vote by mail. Six out of every 10 Contra Costa voters voted by mail in the last election, the highest rate in the county’s history.

“With the explosion in absentee voting, we are seeing an increase in the number of ballots that we cannot count,” Contra Costa election chief Steve Weir said. “We want every vote to count and if you think about this happening all over the state, it adds up to thousands of uncounted ballots. We need to address the problem.”

Contra Costa County’s rejection rate jumped from 1.3 percent in November 2004 to 1.6 percent in November 2005 to 2 percent in June. In the primary, that translated into 2,472 rejected ballots.

If the trend continues in the much higher turn-out Nov. 7 election, it could reach 4,000 uncounted ballots.

Alameda County doesn’t track its rejection rates but election department spokesman Guy Ashley said they have inserted into the envelope a checklist for voters and a big red reminder note on the outside.

The chief reason election clerks reject ballots is a simple one: They arrive after Election Day.

Others arrive with no signature, the wrong signature or an undecipherable signature.

If you want your vote to count, Weir offers these suggestions:

The mail-in ballot is on two pieces of paper this year, so make sure you include both ballots when you cast your votes.

Sign the envelope. And when you sign the outside of the envelope, take your time and use your standard signature. The clerks must match the signature to your voter registration card but if they can’t read it, your ballot will end up in the rejection pile.

Mail your ballot no later than Friday, Nov. 3. Ballots that arrive after 8 p.m. on Election Day are not counted.

If you fail to mail the ballot on time, just take it to your polling place on Election Day or down to your county’s election office.

Posted on Friday, October 6th, 2006
Under: election 2006 | No Comments »

Televised election forums coming to a TV to you

Forgive my absence these past few days. I have been in the CCTV studios taping 29, half-hour segments on three ballot measures and 26 Contra Costa County races headed for the Nov. 7 ballot.

Over the course of three days, I will have traveled, via the magic of television, from Discovery Bay to Pittsburg to Moraga to Danville to Richmond and all points inbetween. Please take the time to tune into your public access television station in the next five weeks and listen to the candidates seeking office in your town or hear the pros and cons about Contra Costa County’s urban llimit line, the state housing bond and public financing of campaigns.

The Times is publishing a full line-up in Sunday’s newspaper. It will also appear in our special election section on Oct. 8. And you may have already seen a few stories about the forums in the pages of the daily paper.

But here’s a full rundown:

Contra Costa County voters have the opportunity to see and hear many of their local candidates on public access television in a series of moderated round-tables set to air up until the Nov. 7 election.

The forums include all of the county’s contested city and town council and mayors’ races, Mount Diablo and West Contra Costa school boards, and the Discovery Bay Community Services District and Ambrose Park and Recreation District.

Voters may also hear debate between proponents and opponents of statewide Proposition 1c, the housing bond; Proposition 89, public financing of campaigns; and Measure L, the Contra Costa’s urban limit line.

Moderated by Times political editor and columnist Lisa Vorderbrueggen, the 29 half-hour segments have been funded and organized by the League of Women Voters of Diablo Valley, Contra Costa Newspapers, Contra Costa Council, Contra Costa TV, Contra Costa County Election Department, Comcast and the Dean and Margaret Lesher Foundation of Walnut Creek.

The shows air on CCTV and Comcast public access stations up until the election.
Contra Costa TV, or CCTV, can be viewed countywide on Comcast Channel 27 and Astound Channel 32.

Forums can also be seen on your Comcast public access Channel 26. Only races affecting the community will be shown within that community, however, they may be viewable to each of the communities served within the cable company’s systems line-up.

Comcast central Contra Costa airs in Martinez, Lamorinda, Danville, Blackhawk, Clyde, Pleasant Hill, and portions of Walnut Creek including Rossmoor. The balance of Walnut Creek airs on Channel 6.

Comcast’s East Contra Costa County line-up airs in Bay Point, Pittsburg, Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley and Discovery Bay.

Comcast’s West Contra Costa County line up airs on El Cerrito, Pinole and Richmond.
Comcast’s Tri-Valley line-up airs in San Ramon and Dublin.

Here are the forums and viewing times:
State and regional

Assembly 11th District (DeSaulnier, Simonsen, Nott) CCTV: 7 p.m., Oct. 8 and Oct. 22; and 8 p.m., Oct. 18 and Oct. 30.

Assembly 15th District (Houston/Coleman) CCTV: 7:30 p.m., Oct. 8 and Oct. 22; and 8:30 p.m., Oct.18 and Oct. 30. Comcast Tri-Valley: 9 p.m., Oct. 13, Oct. 20, Oct. 27 and Nov. 3.

BART, District 2 (Keller/Gomes) CCTV: 8 p.m., Oct. 11 and Oct. 23; and 7 p.m., Oct. 15 andOct. 29. Comcast West County: 5 p.m., Oct. 18 and Oct. 25; 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 20 and Oct. 27.

Measure L (Contra Costa, urban limit line) — CCTV: 8:30 p.m., Oct. 11 and Oct. 23; and 7:30 p.m., Oct. 15; and Oct. 29. Channel 26, Comcast West County: 5:30 p.m., Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 6 p.m., Oct. 17 and Oct. 24.

Proposition 1C (Statewide, housing bond) — CCTV: 9:30 p.m., Oct. 11 and Oct. 23; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 15 and Oct. 29. Comcast West County: 3 p.m., Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 5:30 p.m, Oct. 17 and Oct. 24.

Proposition 89 (Statewide, public financing of campaigns) — CCTV: 9 p.m., Oct. 11 and Oct. 23; 8 p.m., Oct. 15; and Oct. 29. Comcast West County: 10:30 a.m., Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 5 p.m., Oct. 17 and Oct. 24.


Concord City Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa: 6 p.m., Oct. 31; 2 p.m., Nov. 5

Clayton Town Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa: 5:30 p.m., Oct. 31; 1:30 p.m., Nov. 5

Martinez City Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa: 7 p.m., Oct. 31; 3 p.m., Nov. 5

Martinez Mayor — Comcast Cantral Contra Costa: 7:30 p.m., Oct. 31; 3:30 p.m., Nov. 5

Moraga Town Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa: 8 p.m., Oct. 31; 4 p.m., Nov. 5

Mt.Diablo Unified School District — CCTV: 8 p.m., Oct. 8 and Oct. 22; 9 p.m., Oct. 18 and Oct. 30. Comcast Central Contra Costa: 8:30 p.m., Oct. 31; 4:30 p.m., Nov. 5.

Orinda City Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa: 9 p.m., Oct. 31; 5 p.m., Nov. 5

Pleasant Hill City Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa 9:30 p.m., Oct. 31; 5:30 p.m., Nov. 5

Walnut Creek City Council — Comcast Central Contra Costa and Walnut Creek’s Channel 6: 10 p.m., Oct. 31; 6 p.m., Nov. 5


Ambrose Park and Recreation District — Comcast East County: 5 p.m., Oct. 9; 4:30 pm., Oct. 10; 10 p.m, Oct. 12 and Oct. 16; 6 p.m., Oct. 17; 9 p.m, Oct. 20; 6 p.m., Oct. 24; 10 p.m., Oct. 30; 8 p.m., Oct. 31; 9 p.m, Nov. 3; 6:30 p.m., Nov. 6

Antioch City Council — Comcast East County: 6 p.m., Oct. 10; 9 p.m, Oct. 12; 9:30 p.m, Oct. 13; 10:30 p.m, Oct. 16; 8 p.m., Oct. 17; 8 p.m., Oct. 20; 9:30 p.m., Oct. 27; 6:30 p.m., Oct. 28; 11 p.m., Oct. 30; 9 p.m., Oct. 31; 8 p.m., Nov. 3; 6:30 p.m., Nov. 4; 10 p.m,. Nov. 6.

Brentwood City Council — Comcast East County: 7:30 p.m., Oct. 9; 7:30 p.m., Oct. 11; 5:30 p.m, Oct. 12; 7:30 p.m., Oct. 16; 7:30 p.m, Oct. 18; 7:30 p.m., Oct. 23; 4:30 p.m, Oct. 24; 7:30 p.m., Oct. 25; 5 p.m., Oct. 26; 7:30 p.m, Oct. 30; 7:30 p.m., Nov. 1; and 7:30 p.m., Nov. 6.

Brentwood Mayor — Comcast East County: 8 p.m., Oct. 9; 8 p.m., Oct. 11; 6 p.m, Oct. 12; 8 p.m., Oct. 16; 8 p.m, Oct. 18; 8 p.m., Oct. 23; 5 p.m, Oct. 24; 8 p.m., Oct. 25; 5:30 p.m., Oct. 26; 8 p.m, Oct. 30; 8 p.m., Nov. 1; and 8 p.m., Nov. 6.

Discovery Bay Community Services District — Comcast East County: 8:30 p.m., Oct. 9; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 11; 6:30 p.m., Oct. 12; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 16; 8:30, Oct. 18; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 23; 5:30 p.m., Oct. 24; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 25; 6 p.m., Oct. 26; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 30; 8:30 p.m., Nov. 1; and 8:30 p.m., Nov. 6.

Pittsburg City Council — Comcast East County: 5:30 p.m, Oct. 9; 9:30 p.m, Oct. 12; 9 p.m., Oct. 13; 10:30 p.m., Oct. 16; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 17; 8:30 p.m., Oct. 20; 9 p.m., Oct. 27; 6 p.m., Oct. 28; 10:30 p.m., Oct. 30; 8:30 p.m,. Oct. 31; 8:30 p.m., Nov. 3; 5:30 p.m., Nov. 4; 10:30 p.m, Nov. 6.


Danville Town Council — Comcast Contra Costa: 6:30 p.m., Oct. 31; and 2:30 p.m., Nov. 5


El Cerrito City Council — Comcast West County: 11:30 a.m., Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 6 p.m., Oct. 19 and Oct. 26.

Hercules City Council — Comcast West County: Noon, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 6 p.m., Oct. 20 and Oct. 27

Pinole City Council — Comcast West County: 7 p.m., Oct. 4; 12 p.m., Oct. 7; 5 p.m., Oct. 8.

Richmond City Council — Comcast West County: 1 p.m., Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 5 p.m., Oct. 16 and Oct. 23

Richmond Mayor — Comcast West County: 1:30 p.m., Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 5:30 p.m., Oct. 16 and Oct. 23.

West Contra Costa Unified School District — CCTV: 8:30 p.m., Oct. 8 and Oct. 22; 9:30 p.m., Oct. 18 and Oct. 30. Comcast West County: 12:30 p.m, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22; 7 p.m, Oct. 17 and Oct. 24.

Posted on Thursday, September 28th, 2006
Under: election 2006 | No Comments »

Governor signs children’s bill by Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch

Children Now reports that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 638, authored by Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, which “expands the availability of after school programs in California, ensures their quality and provides priority access to new funding for low-income schools,” according to a Children Now e-mail.

Commenting on the bill, Children Now President Ted Lempert said, “California’s children will now have much more access to safe and enriching after school programs. We urge all schools to begin preparing their applications today so that the children they serve can benefit from this opportunity.”

Posted on Thursday, September 21st, 2006
Under: election 2006 | No Comments »