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AD15 candidates writing big checks to themselves

The Republicans in the hyper-crowded Assembly District 15 primary race are significantly out-raising their Democratic counterparts but a large chunk of the GOP cash is coming out of the candidates’ own bank accounts, according to financial reports filed Tuesday.

Automobile dealership entrepreneur Robert Rao of Livermore has poured $208,060 of his own money into the campaign, leaving him with $45,170 from other sources.

San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson has loaned his campaign $95,000. He has received $18,474 from other contributors.

The exception to the self-funded trend is GOP activist and businesswoman Judy Biviano Lloyd, who reported $153,781 in contributions through June 30 but only $3,987 came from personal funds.

Campaign finance reports were not immediately available for the other two declared Republican candidates including Alamo real estate appraiser Joe Rubay and optometrist Scott Kamena of Livermore.

UPDATE: Kamena’s campaign finance report was not available on-line at the Secretary of State’s web site but his treasurer faxed it over a few minutes ago. It shows Kamena raised $140,874 between Jan. 1 and June 30, bringing his total contributions for the campaign to $260,891. (He started raising money last year, the only candidate who began raising money that early.) Kamena has not contributed or loaned his own money to the campaign.

The fund-raising numbers for the two Democrats for which campaign finance reports had been filed pale in comparison although it is still far too early to draw too many conclusions as to the significance of the funding gap.

Steve Filson, a Danville health insurance agent and former airline pilot, reported $35,345 in contributions through June 30 although he has not spent any of his own money.

Danville electrician Steve Thomas logged $1,125 in contributions and no personal loans. But he had spent most of it, leaving him with $128 in the bank.

Reports were not immediately available on the Secretary of State’s web site or at the Contra Costa County Elections Department for the other four Democratic candidates, including businessman Fred Klaske of Castro Valley, El Grove resident Davies Ononiwu and Livermore school principal Chris Van Schaack.

The final Democrat, San Ramon Valley School Board Trustee Joan Buchanan, didn’t officially enter the race until July 3, several days after the closing date of the last financial reporting period.

Posted on Wednesday, August 1st, 2007
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McIntosh drops out of AD14 race

Democrat Lesa McIntosh, a member of the East Bay Municipal Utility District board and a former Richmond councilwoman, has unexpectedly dropped out of the Assembly District 14 race.

“I came to my senses,” McIntosh said. “Why would I run for a seat that I’m hoping won’t be available?”

McIntosh is referring to her support for a ballot measure headed for the February 2008 primary ballot that would alter term limits and allow incumbent Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, run for re-election.

Under the current rules, Hancock will term out of the Assembly and run for the state Senate. If the ballot measure passes, Hancock could serve and additional six years in the Assembly. Hancock has said she will run for her Assembly seat if the voters permit it.

McIntosh, a bankruptcy attorney, says she called a time-out a few weeks ago and began pondering the question of whether or not she wanted to run. It’s always better, she said, to call off the wedding before you are walking down the aisle.

Instead, she intends to work on the campaign to help pass the term limits measure.

But if the voters say no to term limit changes in February McIntosh says she won’t rule out her candidacy.

“If the measure fails, I will decide in February who I will endorse and who knows, I might run for it myself,” she said. “But we’ll see what shakes out in February.”

That leaves just one officially declared candidate in Assembly District 14, Richmond City Councilman Tony Thurmond.

However, several others have said they will consider running including East Bay Regional Parks Director Nancy Skinner, Berkeley city councilmembers Kriss Worthington and Darryl Moore, West Contra Costa Unified School District Trustee Charles Ramsey and Richmond Councilman Jim Rogers.

Posted on Thursday, June 28th, 2007
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McCain: “I see dead donors”

GOP presidential hopeful John McCain, a U.S. senator from Arizona, admits he’s been having trouble raising cash but reaching beyond the grave for contributions seems excessive.

A fundraising letter arrived today in the newsroom of the Contra Costa Times addressed to Margaret Lesher, inviting her to join the Patriot’s Circle, a high-level group of campaign insiders. Members who contribute $100 or more will receive a copy of a limited edition commemorative series of three photographs of McCain that depict his service the Navy and the Senate and his family.

Lesher has little use for commemorative pictures or, for that matter, a United States president.

As locals will remember, Lesher died of a tragic drowning in May 1997 in an Arizona lake. She was connected to the Times because she was the wife of the newspaper’s late owner, Dean Lesher.

A McCain campaign spokeman said, “We apologize for the mistake. It was a flawed list and we’re working to remedy the situation immediately.”

This is far from the first time that a campaign has mailed solicitations to deceased folks.

All campaigns from presidential to congressional to state and local races typically rent address lists compiled by outside companies. Mailing lists are notoriously flawed because people move, change their party registrations or die every day. It’s impossible for the campaigns to check every name, especially for national or statewide races.

But this seems like a pretty bad list.

Not only has Lesher been dead 10 years but died in McCain’s own state of Arizona. And she hasn’t used the newspaper as a mailing address since 1995, when the Leshers sold the newspaper to Knight-Ridder.

Posted on Wednesday, June 27th, 2007
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San Ramon mayor to officially enter AD15 race

San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson will announce his plans to seek the Republican nomination in Assembly District 15 at a June 18 fundraiser. He hopes to succeed Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, who terms out next year.

Wilson will also be running his re-election campaign for mayor, which will take place in November of this year, and join the growing numbers of candidates who are seeking more than one office at the same time.

The multi-race phenomenon has surfaced due to an initiative on the February 2008 presidential primary ballot that would loosen term limits and allow incumbents who were scheduled to term out next year to seek re-election.

There’s no telling if it will pass. Opponents have already filed a lawsuit challenging its language, although they lost the first court round today after a judge declared the summary and title legal. U.S. Term Limits spokesman Kevin Spillane says his organization will appeal the decision.

But the uncertainty has left incumbents and would-be challengers with a conundrum.

Houston has said he will seek re-election to his Assembly seat if the voters allow it. In the meantime, he’s contemplating a run for congressional District 11.

Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, has said he will run for his senate seat, too. But if that doesn’t happen, he’ll run for his old Assembly District 11 seat (he only served two of the three terms allowed) and he’s raising money for his 2010 bid for state superintendent of schools.

The incumbent in District 11, Mark DeSaulnier of Concord, will run for Torlakson’s senate seat, unless, of course, his friend decides to keep it. In that case, DeSaulnier will run for re-election in the Assembly.

Got that all down?

Abrams is the 10th candidate to enter the AD15 contest but most view him as the frontrunner among the Republicans due to his political experience and higher name recognition. Click here for a link to the Secretary of State’s web page for the full candidate list.

But he’s getting a late start despite the fact that the election is still a year away. Republicans Judy Biviano Lloyd, Scott Kamena and Robert Rao have been working the race for months.

“I had hoped to wait until after February but my supporters have been asking me to declare one way or the other because they are under pressure from my opponents,” Wilson said late Friday.

He may be running two campaigns but Wilson says he’s 200 percent committed to both the city and the Assembly.

He said he would work hard to ensure that critical city programs, such as the new city hall, are well under way before he potentially leaves for Sacramento in January 2009. That’s a year before his mayoral term ends, if he’s re-elected in November.

Posted on Friday, May 25th, 2007
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Houston still interested in CD11

The official entry Wednesday of the first Republican candidate in the congressional District 11 contest — former state legislator Dean Andal of Stockton — has not deterred Assemblyman Guy Houston, R San Ramon. (Click here for full story on Andal.)

But despite Andal’s early announcement, Houston says he cannot make a final decision about his own candidacy until late summer.

“I want to do it,” Houston said, “but I want to do it right and that means we have to have the resources. I haven’t had the time to contact my major supporters and donors because I’ve had a job to do in Sacramento.”

Houston estimates he will need $3 million for the general election plus cash to fund a primary.

If he decides to run, Houston says he would be far more competitive than Andal in the East Bay, particularly in the general against Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton, who beat Tracy Republican Richard Pombo in a big upset.

“Pombo was swamped in the San Ramon corridor and (Republicans) can’t lose by that many votes again and still win,” Houston said. “I’m better positioned to take on McNerney in his own backyard than Dean or any other candidate.”

McNerney beat Pombo by more than 12,000 votes in Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Pombo lost by less than 1,300 votes in San Joaquin County, where 55 percent of the district’s voters live. (Click here for CD11 map.)

Houston also says that he is less conservative than Andal, a trait that might not appeal to the more moderate East Bay voters.

Just how conservative do you need to be — or not be — to win a Republican primary in District 11?

In the wake of Pombo’s unexpected loss in November to the liberal McNerney, no one is quite sure what type of candidate the voters in this Republican-leaning district will favor next time.

But conservative credentials may not be a problem. According to California Target Book co-author Allan Hoffenblum, ultra-conservative Republican Tom McClintock carried this district by 6 percentage points in November’s lieutenant governor race. (Democrat John Garamendi won statewide.)

On the other hand, the candidate’s conservative score may not matter as much as what happens in the presidential race.

“In my opinion, if that district votes Republican for president, it will choose a Republican for Congress,” Hoffenblum said. “If the district votes for a Democrat, then McNerney has a good chance.”

McNerney hopes his focus on constituent services in the district will persuade voters of all political stripes that he deserves to return to Washington, D.C.

Either way, expect the GOP to pour an obscene amount of moola into this campaign in an effort to revive the interest of the Republican voters who failed to support Pombo during last year’s seismic political shift to the left.

Posted on Thursday, May 17th, 2007
Under: congressional district 11, Election 2008 | No Comments »

Andal officially jumps into CD11 race

As expected, Stockton businessman and former state legislator Dean Andal officially entered the congressional District 11 race today.

Click here for a copy of Andal’s press release: Download file

Click here for a copy of Andal’s biography: Download file

Dean Andal (photo courtesy of the Andal campaign)

Posted on Wednesday, May 16th, 2007
Under: congressional district 11, Election 2008 | No Comments »

Andal appears poised to enter CD11 race

Talk is heating up about the likely public entry this week into the congressional District 11 race of Republican Dean Andal, a Stockton school board trustee, former assemblyman and former member of the state Board of Equalization.

Andal filed a statement of candidacy Friday with the Federal Election Commission, making him the first Republican to declare his intent to run for the seat held by Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton.

Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, has said he is considering a run but hasn’t publicly made up his mind.

Both men visited GOP leaders in Washington, D.C., earlier this year.

Andal, 47, isn’t well-known in the East Bay portion of District 11, which comprises about 45 percent of the district’s voters. (See map here.)

But he’s a veteran of California politics and those who know him say he’s a smart and savvy campaigner who will waste no time lobbying East Bay Republicans for their votes.

Andal is a member of the board of directors of the Lincoln Unified School District. Elected to the state Board of Equalization in 1994, he served two, four-year terms. Prior to the BOE post, he was a Assemblyman who represented Stockton.

Andal ran for state controller in 2002 but lost the Republican nomination to Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks.

In a face-off with Houston, Andal has a deeper political resume and greater name recognition in San Joaquin County, where the majority of the district’s voters live.

But Houston has won three contested Assembly elections and political observers consider him a tough and persistent campaigner. On the other hand, Houston has said he will seek re-election to his Assembly seat if voters approve a measure headed for the February ballot that would loosen term limits.

The news of Andal’s candidacy won’t surprise McNerney or his campaign staff. They’ve been expecting a strong GOP contender to surface from the minute the Democratic wind energy consultant beat seven-term incumbent Richard Pombo in a shocking upset last November.

McNerney is a Democrat in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats by nearly 6 percentage points, odds that favor the GOP in normal election years. Republicans say this seat is theirs and they intend to do everything possible to reclaim it.


See Congressional Quarterly’s story on Andal at

See blog entry by Carl Fogliani, chief of staff to Assembly Greg Aghazarian, R-Stockton, and former campaign manager for Pombo, at

Posted on Tuesday, May 15th, 2007
Under: congressional district 11, Election 2008 | No Comments »

Obama leads in East Bay donations

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama outraised all his opponents among East Bay donors in the first major campaign reporting period of the race, overtaking New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Among the Republican candidates, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney significantly outpaced his GOP opponents in the East Bay, helped by friend and former colleague, EBay Chief Executive Meg Whitman.

A Contra Costa Times analysis of federal elections data tallied by PoliticalMoneyLine, a nonpartisan Web site, found that Obama collected $338,778 in the East Bay between Jan. 1 and March 31. The East Bay includes cities in Contra Costa, Alameda and Solano counties.

Clinton garnered $252,720 in the same period, followed by Sen. John Edwards, D-North Carolina, $182,249; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, $14,850; Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., $5,500; Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., $5,300; and Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, $2,600.

In comparison, Republican Arizona senator John McCain raised $47,755. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani collected $23,210, while Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-El Cajon, and Kansas senator Sam Brownback garnered small amounts.

The Times compiled contributions to all presidential candidates from East Bay residents. Keep in mind that the data is self-reported by the campaigns and the contributors — mistakes and omissions occur.


BARACK OBAMA, DEM — $338,778
JOHN EDWARDS, DEM — $182,249
MITT ROMNEY, REP — $134,775
JOHN MCCAIN, REP — $47,755
JOE BIDEN, DEM — $5,500
Grand Total — $1,011,012


BERKELEY — $230,547
OAKLAND — $161,035
PIEDMONT — $157,450
DANVILLE — $57,310
WALNUT CREEK — $46,935
ORINDA — $45,947
LAFAYETTE — $40,450
ALAMO — $39,250
PLEASANTON — $38,919
MORAGA — $23,950
ALAMEDA — $22,517
LIVERMORE — $14,100
FREMONT — $11,325
SAN RAMON — $10,150
DUBLIN — $8,400
VACAVILLE — $7,770
EL CERRITO — $7,730
SAN LEANDRO — $7,600
DIABLO — $6,925
MARTINEZ — $6,355
CONCORD — $6,200
RICHMOND — $5,950
ALBANY — $5,700
HERCULES — $4,850
FAIRFIELD — $3,750
BENICIA — $3,350
CLAYTON — $2,800
BRENTWOOD — $2,700
BLACKHAWK — $2,300
HAYWARD — $1,750
ROSSMOOR — $1,268
VALLEJO — $1,250
ANTIOCH — $1,000
Grand Total — $1,011,012

NOTE: Updated on April 23, 2007, to include contributions to Dennis Kucinich.

Posted on Friday, April 20th, 2007
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AD15 attracts a crowd

Open political seats seem to attract a crowd faster than a playground fight.

Nine people have either filed or announced plans to run in the June 2008 primary for Assembly District 15, the seat held by soon-to-be-termed-out Republican Guy Houston, including four Republicans and five Democrats.

The newest name on the Democratic ticket is Steve Filson, a commercial airline pilot and Navy veteran. But his name may be familiar: He ran unsuccessfully in the congressional District 11 primary in 2006, losing the nomination to Jerry McNerney.

“I have a good base of support that continued to build even after the congressional primary,” Filson said. “People asked me to seriously consider the Assembly and I felt I had enough support to go forward.”

Terry Coleman, the Democrat who lost against Houston in 2006, says he will not run.

“I’ve encouraged Steve Filson to run,” Coleman said. “I think he will make a fine legislator.”

The other four Democratic candidates include Fred Klaske of San Ramon, who also considered running for Congress in 2006; Davies Ononiwu, an Elk Grove business owner; Livermore high school principal Chris Van Schaack; and Danville electrician Stevan Thomas. (Thomas also ran in the District 11 primary in 2006; he came in third behind McNerney and Filson.)

On the Republican side, San Ramon Mayor Abram Wilson has said he will run although he hasn’t filed a statement of intent with the Secretary of State’s office or formed a campaign finance committee.

The other three GOP candidates are Republican activist and business owner Judy Biviano Lloyd of Dublin; retired auto sales executive Robert Rao of Livermore, and Scott Kamena, Livermore optometrist and board member on the Livermore Area Park and Recreation District.

Click here to see a map of the district.


Lloyd, who turned 47 today, launched her web site this morning and announced her campaign team.

Her honorary campaign chairmen and women include:

Lydia Beebe, corporate secretary of Chevron Corporation of San Ramon; Ann Blackburn, CEO of Blackburn Advisory Services, Inc.;

Floyd Brown, chairman of Citizens United and the Senior Fellow at the Ronald Reagan Ranch in Santa Barbara;

Barbara Cappa, a child abuse prevention and youth advocate;

William Cronk and his wife, Janet, who is the president of the Boy Scouts of America and former president of Dreyer’s Ice Cream;

Carolyn Devine, president of the San Francisco Commission on Aging and Adult Services;

Matt Fong, former California State Treasurer and founder of Strategic Advisory Group;

Robert Fried, partner in the Pleasanton office of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo;

Elizabeth Kearney, president and Founder of Kearney & Associates;

Kristen Kuhns, who will soon become the CEO of Eravita, Inc.;

Anjali Lathi, former Alameda County Chair for Governor Schwarzenegger’s re-election campaign;

Alison Levine, a climber, explorer, entrepreneur, and organizational leadership consultant who served as team captain of the first American Women’s Everest Expedition;

Jack Loyd, medical device entrepreneur, and his wife, Lynne, a community volunteer;

Charles Marsala, Atherton City Councilman;

Carol Morrison, technology start-up entrepreneur and chief marketing officer for Santa Clara County Republican Party;

George Opacic, manager in the political affairs department of Pacific Gas & Electric Company;

Deborah Perry Piscione, president of Marketplace Offense, author, television and radio commentator who serves as a regular guest of political programs on CNN and National Public Radio;

Danelle Storm Rosati, founder of Storm & Company;

Herman G. Rowland, Sr., chairman of the board of the Jelly Belly Candy Company;

Jerry Thorne, Pleasanton City Councilman;

Julie Vandermost, state President of the California Women’s Leadership Association;

Susan Wichmann, senior financial adviser for Merrill Lynch Global Private Client Group of San Ramon and president of the Wellness Community of the San Francisco East Bay;

Deborah Wilder, nationally recognized expert on state and federal employment law matters in the construction field;

Joe Yew, finance director for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2007
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Producer Norman Lear launches voter drive

Declare Yourself, a voter registration organization founded by producer Norman Lear, has started a campaign to register every 18-year-old in time to vote in the 2008 election.

The nonpartisan, youth voting campaign will use partnerships with the Yahoo, MySpace, YouTube, Google, Friendster and Evite in efforts to connect with young would-be voters.

The “Declare Yourself” voter registration icon link will appear on hundreds of youth-focused websites and blogs.

The organization also features celebrity spokespeople such as America Ferrera of “Ugly Betty” and Hayden Panettiere of “Heroes.” Clear Channel and Comedy Central have joined the campaign, too.

Lear founded Declare Yourself in 2003 at the conclusion of a nationwide tour of an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. The nonprofit group registered more than 1 million people to vote in the 2004 and 2006 elections.

Posted on Tuesday, April 17th, 2007
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