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Christine Pelosi delivers speech to Lamorinda Dems

See my story on-ilne about Christine Pelosi’s speech to the Lamorinda Democratic Club.

Pelosi is the daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

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Posted on Friday, September 15th, 2006
Under: election 2006 | No Comments »

Campaign advertising moves to cable

Capitol Weekly News has a fascinating article today about how campaigns are beginning to spend more money on cable television advertising.

Traditionally, television advertising has been used to reach broad audiences. But cable TV allows the campaign to target specific groups, such as those that watch Fox, sports or programming targeted specifically to women or minorities.

Check out the story at

Posted on Thursday, September 14th, 2006
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Christine Pelosi in Orinda tonight

I’m headed to Orinda tonight to hear Christine Pelosi’s assessment of the mid-term elections.

Pelosi is the daughter of House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and a Democratic and labor organizer.

Several members of the Bay Area’s Democratic congressional delegation say they can easily see the Democrats winning 12 of the 15 seats needed to take majority control of the House. It will be interesting to hear Pelosi’s take on the Democratic Party’s chances.

Pelosi is speaking to the Lamorinda Democratic Club at 7:30 p.m., at the Orinda Community Church, 10 Irwin Way. The cost is $5 for members and $10 for non-members. Students are free.

To follow Christine Pelosi’s work throughout the country, visit her blog at

Posted on Thursday, September 14th, 2006
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Dinner with the guv? Pull out the checkbook

For the mere cost of a compact car or a down payment on a house, you and your spouse could sit at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s dinner table and have your picture taken with the Terminator himself.

It’s all part of the governor’s re-election fund-raiser sponsored by Home Builders Association of Northern California on Sept. 19 at the Round Hill Country Club in Alamo.

To sit at the governor’s table, it will cost $22,300 a couple or $11,150 a person, a figure that just so happens to match the state’s contribution limit.

If you can’t quite swing it, a $10,000 check will net you and your partner a photo but no chance to see if the governator chews with his mouth open.

Posted on Monday, September 11th, 2006
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Pombo asked to return Alaska oil company money

GOP Rep. Richard Pombo’s Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney has called on his opponent to return campaign contributions from Alaska oil company executives under federal investigation for alleged influence peddling in their firm’s home state legislature.

FBI agents, according to the Associated Press, raided the offices of several Alaskan state legislators last week in an investigation into the dealings between Veco Corp., its top executives and lawmakers.

A copy of one of the search warrants, the wire service said, links the probe to negotiations involving a recently signed Alaska oil production tax and natural gas pipeline contract.

The investigation has not been linked to Congress but McNerney said Pombo should return the money.

U.S. Senate GOP candidate Mike McGavick of Washington State returned $14,000, his campaign announced this week.

Veco Corp. executives had contributed $15,312 to Pombo and his political action committee between 2003 and April of this year, according to data provided by the Times’ campaign finance analysis service, Dwight Morris & Associates.

“I think all these questions underscore the need for stronger ethics rules in Congress, and reform of our campaign finance laws,” McNerney said in a release. “A first start in that effort would be for Congressman Pombo to return the money that he’s received from Veco.”

The League of Conservation Voters also called for Pombo to give back the cash.

“We just hope Rep. Pombo doesn’t get a sunburned palm from having it open so often,” said l President Gene Karpinski. “Here’s another … example of how he has abandoned the 11th District in California and become a puppet of Big Oil. As working families back home struggle with record high energy prices, Rep. Pombo sits in Washington allowing himself to be showered with more special interest cash than virtually every other member of Congress. “

Pombo returns all contributions from donors in serious trouble, said the congressman’s campaign manager Carl Fogliani. The lawmaker gave to charity contributions from convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

“We haven’t looked into the Veco case yet but we’ll be watching it,” Fogliani said.

Fogliani characterized McNerney’s request as yet another in a string of “attacks from a desperate candidate who is looking for any angle.”

Anti-Pombo forces have for months hammered the congressman for taking large contributions from oil and energy companies at the same time he pursues opening up more areas of the country to oil and gas drilling.

In this election cycle, oil and gas interests have been Pombo’s fifth-highest source of campaign money with contributions of $117,340 through Aug. 7, according to

Casinos and gambling topped the list, followed by real estate, political action committees and food processing.

Given Pombo’s ideology and his role as the chairman of the House Resources Committee, the source of his contributions is not unusual or unexpected.
Special interests on both sides of the political aisle commonly contribute to the candidates they hope will advance their agendas.

Veco Corp. executives have contributed $300,000 to mostly Republican members of congress and their political action committees since 2003.

But critics say special interest money has a lock on Congress at the public’s expense and they frequently point to Pombo as a prime example of the problem. They hope the public’s low opinion of Congress will translate into a defeat in November for Pombo and Republicans all over the country.

Posted on Thursday, September 7th, 2006
Under: congressional district 11, election 2006 | No Comments »

Environmentalists gird for anti-Pombo battle

In the waning days of summer, environmentalists are girding up for an all-out fall offensive against Rep. Richard Pombo’s re-election bid in Congressional District 11.

It’s conceivable that environmental organizations will spend as much or more money on anti-Pombo initiatives than his Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney.

The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund now has seven full-time campaign organizers in its Pleasanton office and has plans to hire three more.

The group has produced anti-Pombo TV and radio ads and held a joint press conference this week with to release a report on the cost of the Iraq War to residents in the district. ($974 million and counting.)

The two groups have launched what they call the “Caught Red-Handed” campaign, intended to highlight what they consider Pombo’s ill-advised positions and unethical actions. They’ve been following Pombo around the district during the congressman’s summer break from Washington, D.C., wearing large, foam rubber red hands.

Meanwhile, environmentalists have formed a new 527 committee, named after the IRS designation for political groups, called the Ocean Champions Voter Fund. Its executive director is David Wilmot, a former director of the National Audubon Society’s Living Oceans Program.

The Ocean Voter Fund has produced two mailers in opposition to Pombo’s bill, the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act, (H.R. 4761), which would allow states to authorize oil and natural gas drilling between 50 and 100 nautical miles from shore.

But the green wave had a misstep this week.

The League of Conservation Voters fired off a rousing e-mail this week that denounced Pombo’s appearance in Montana at an immigration hearing of the House Resources Committee, of which he is the chairman.

“While we’re glad to see Rep. Pombo deep in Montana listening to Montana voters, we’re quite sure he actually represents the 11th District of California,” the statement read.

The league has named Pombo one of its “Dirty Dozen 2006,” a group of candidates they have targeted. Since 1996, the league says it has helped defeat 28 of the 49 anti-environment candidates.

There’s only one problem: Pombo was never in Montana. He’s been at home in his district.

“Mea culpa,” said League spokesman Chuck Porcari. “Pombo was on the schedule to go to Montana and we should have checked to make sure he went.”

But Porcari says the premise of the league’s message remains true.

“Pombo spends more time looking out for the interests of his campaign funders than those of his constituents,” he said.

Pombo and his advocates vigorously disagree, of course.

On the surface, all this anti-Pombo money helps McNerney, right?

Maybe. McNerney has far less money than Pombo and his advocates welcome anything that helps soften the well-funded incumbent.

On the other hand, Pombo’s campaign staffers repeatedly discount the greenies’ efforts as a bunch of out-of-town liberals trying to tell the good folks of Congressional District 11 how to vote.

Posted on Thursday, August 31st, 2006
Under: congressional district 11, election 2006 | 1 Comment »

Contra Costa growth measure finally finds a champion

For a while, Contra Costa County’s much-ballyhooed growth initiative was headed for the Nov. 7 ballot with no one at the campaign helm.

But today, Martinez City Councilman Mark Ross officially formed a Measure J campaign committee that will promote the next generation urban growth boundary in Contra Costa County. His wife, Dianne Dunlap, will serve as its treasurer.

The measure extends until 2036 an urban growth boundary that voters originally adopted nearly two decades ago. It was imposed on the county in a voter-approved, 2004 half-cent transportation sales tax, which conditioned local agencies’ receipt of their road maintenance money on the adoption of the boundary.

The county and its cities fought bitterly for almost two years over where to place the line, eventually prompting Antioch and Pittsburg voters to adopt their own lines last year. Both allowed expansions of the line that county leaders opposed.

An urban limit line redirects new homes, businesses and shops into areas with existing infrastructure and stems suburban sprawl.

Ironically, the resulting line that voters will see in November was the product of so much compromise that almost no one emerged from the process with much enthusiasm. The environmentalists felt it didn’t go far enough, while property rights advocates view the line as an unfair restriction on the use of their properties.

The Board of Supervisors placed the line on the ballot but government agencies are not permitted to use taxpayer dollars on political campaigns except to provide factual information. In most cases where public agencies agree to put issues to the voters, private citizens or elected officials acting on their own form campaign committees and raise money.

The board voted on the measure months ago but until today, it had no campaign organizers and to date, there is no opposition force, either.

Barring a significant no-campaign, few expect the measure to lose. The urban limit line is wildly popular in Contra Costa County.

And cities stand to lose a great deal if it fails: Each receives a share, based on population, of the sales tax proceeds to use for local road repairs. It amounts to millions of dollars at a time when communities face deteriorating roads and declining sources of cash.

“We don’t want to take voters for granted,” Ross said. “We need to tell them why they should vote for this measure and why it’s important for the future of the county.”

Posted on Thursday, August 24th, 2006
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House leader to fund-raise for Pombo

House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, is the star attraction at a Friday fundraiser for Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, at a private home in Stockton.

The price of admission, dinner and photo opportunity is $150 a person. For tickets, contact Pombo’s campaign office at 209-956-3976 or visit

But it won’t cost anything to attend the protest scheduled for the street in front of the hosts’ home on Roberts Road in Stockton.

One of the losers in the Democratic primary, Steve Thomas of Danville, Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund and will hold a rally to draw attention to their unhappiness with Pombo’s conservative politics and what they consider the incumbent’s ethics problems. The fun starts at 5:30 p.m. Click here for specific address and additional details.

Boehner’s appearance prompts the bigger question: Will President George Bush come to California to campaign for Pombo?

To Bush or not to Bush: It’s a dilemma for California Republicans. The president is unpopular with a majority of the state’s residents but a huge fundraising draw among conservative contributors.

Pombo campaign manager Carl Fogliani says he can’t say whether or not Bush will show in Congressional District 11.

“We’re running the campaign based on circumstances under our control,” Fogliani says.

Few political experts consider Pombo seriously vulnerable in his race against Democrat Jerry McNerney, so the incumbent doesn’t necessarily need massive amounts of cash in his campaign. But as chairman of the House Resources Committee, Pombo is also expected to raise money for the party and other GOP candidates.

Posted on Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006
Under: congressional district 11, election 2006 | No Comments »

“Nurses Vs. Arnold” movie premiere

A documentary about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s struggle with California nurses in the 2005 election premieres Thursday.

After the governor imprudently told nurses publicly he was going to “kick their butts,” the nurses successfully beat down the governor’s efforts to reverse nurse-to-patient ratios and pass ballot measures unfriendly to labor.

The Bay Area premiere will take place Thursday, Aug. 24, 7 p.m., at the Grand Lake Theater, 3200 Grand Ave., in Oakland.

The film is also serving as a campaign tool for the California Nurses Association’s Proposition 89, a November ballot measure that would establish voluntary public financing of campaigns.

The association says it sponsored Prop. 89 as an antidote to the current campaign finance system, which they say gives corporations too much access to and power over the incumbents.

Called the California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act, it sets tighter limits on contributions from unions, corporations and individuals. It bars contributions from professional lobbyists and state contractors and calls for prison time for candidates who break the law.

Opponents call the initiative phony reform at the taxpayers’ expense. To read their arguments, visit

The proponents’ web site is

Posted on Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006
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National group issues voter defense manual

Project Vote Smart, a national nonpartisan political research group based in Montana, has released its “2006 Voter’s Self-Defense Manual” for California.

The free, 100-page report lists congressional voting records, campaign finance contributions, ratings by special interest groups and candidate information.

It also includes results from the organization’s National Political Awareness Test, a lengthy questionnaire that touches on everything from abortion to taxes.

This segment is sketchy for California as only five of its members of Congress completed the questionnaire this year. When the group launched the test a few years ago, lawmakers were under tremendous political and public pressure to participate. That no longer appears to be the case.

The test has found itself at the center of a controversy in the Congressional District 11 race after Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney changed the answers on about a third of the questions in a shift toward the middle on a number of positions in this conservative district.

Incumbent CD 11 Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, has slammed McNerney’s flip-flops but fails to mention that he has never completed the questionnaire himself. For Pombo’s part, though, he does have a 13-year voting record, so his positions are far from a mystery.

Project Vote Smart was founded by former presidents Jimmy Carter and Jerry Ford, as well as presidential candidates Barry Goldwater and George McGovern. It refuses corporate or special interest financial assistance.

To obtain a copy of the manual, visit the website or call 1-888-868-3762.

Posted on Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006
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