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Garamendi visits CD10 again today

Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, a University of California Regent and California State University trustee, will be the keynote commencement speaker – emphasizing “the important role California’s community colleges play in educating our future workforce and retraining unemployed Californians” – at the Solano Community College graduation ceremony, 7:30 p.m. tonight in Fairfield.

Which, coincidentally, falls within the 10th Congressional District, where Garamendi has declared himself a candidate should Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, be confirmed to the State Department post to which she has been nominated.

And I’m sure the fact that this comes after Garamendi has made official visits to or near the 10th District over and over in the past two weeks is coincidence as well.

Meanwhile, two other 10th District candidates — state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, and Adriel Hampton of Dublin — are scheduled to speak at a Memorial Day vigil honoring the nearly 5,000 servicemen and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan at 7 p.m. Monday at the Lafayette Crosses on Deerhill Road, facing the Lafayette BART station.

UPDATE @ 3:01 P.M.: The Solano Community College gig tonight may be in Garamendi’s official capacity, but it comes at the start of a weekend-long campaign blitz in and around the district. Tomorrow, starting around 10 a.m., he’ll join residents in Vacaville (just outside the CD10) along the route of the annual Fiesta Day Parade. At 10 a.m. Monday, he’ll join Walnut Creek’s mayor and city council for that city’s Memorial Day service at the Civic Park gazebo, at the corner of North Broadway and Civic Drive. And at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday he’ll address the El Cerrito Democratic Club in the El Cerrito United Methodist Church, 6830 Stockton St.

Posted on Friday, May 22nd, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, Elections, Ellen Tauscher, General, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 6 Comments »

Green Party opposes special-election measures

Make a note on your calendars: This was the day on which the Green Party of California and the California Republican Party were on the same page. Well, sort of.

The Green Party, which said it polled its members and county councils before coming to a decision, y today urged state voters to vote against on all propositions on the May 19 special ballot.

“We oppose the cuts in transportation, education, social services and other humane services, and we oppose this deal even though we were told that great hardship would result if (this) rotten deal failed to pass,” said Michael Rubin, who analyzed the measures for the Green Party of Alameda County. “Even more we oppose the process which offers us a ‘choice’ of being shot in the leg or shot in the arm, but did not offer us the choice of using our collective wealth to meet human needs.”

Proposition 1A, the spending cap/rainy-day fund measure, would create more problems and require billions more in cuts to needed social services, the Greens say; Proposition 1B, providing money previously promised to school districts, and Proposition 1C, to borrow money against future lottery revenue, are merely there to sweeten the bitter pill of 1A, they say. The Greens rejected 1D and 1E because they say the measures steal money from taxes created to benefit children and the mentally ill, and they said 1F — preventing pay raises for state elected officials when the budget is in deficit — is ineffectual.

State GOP leaders last month voted to oppose all the measures too — but they’re doing it because they oppose any and all tax increases, and believe the state budget should be slashed far beyond the cuts already made.

Strange bedfellows, indeed.

Posted on Tuesday, May 5th, 2009
Under: ballot measures, California budget, Elections, Green Party, May 19 special election, May 2009 special election, Republican Party | No Comments »

Monday is voter registration deadline

This Monday, May 4 is the last day to register or re-register to vote in the May 19 special election, wherein voters will decide on six budget-related ballot measures.

To be eligible to register to vote in this election, a person must be a U.S. citizen and California resident; at least 18 years old on Election Day; not in prison or on parole for a felony conviction; and not deemed by a court to be mentally incompetent to register and vote. Voters must re-register if they have moved, changed their names, or wish to change their political party affiliation (the latter of which makes no difference in this election).

Voter registration cards are available from county elections offices, public libraries, city halls, post offices and DMV offices, or can be downloaded from the Secretary of State’s Web site. Voter registration cards require an original signature and must be submitted in person or through the mail; a registration card postmarked on or before May 4 will be accepted as meeting the registration deadline.

Posted on Friday, May 1st, 2009
Under: ballot measures, Elections, May 19 special election, May 2009 special election | No Comments »

Special election turn-out historically low

Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir

Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir

Contra Costa Registrar of Voters Steve Weir has compiled some dismal turnout data for special elections in California.

The most recent congressional special election was in April 2008 to replace the late Rep. Tom Lantos: Overall turnout was about 25 percent but turnout on election day was less than 7 percent.

Weir is among a growing number of election officials who would like Legislature to pass a law that would allow counties the option to hold mail-only elections if turnout is expected to be low. It costs a fortune to put on a precinct-based election where so few people show up at the polls, and money is especially tight in county coffers these days.

Contra Costa faces the prospect of two or more special elections this year in addition to the May 19 statewide election. An election to replace Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, will likely occur sometime this summer and if voters select someone who occupied a legislative seat, a subsequent special election will be needed to replace him or her.

Here is what Weir found:

SD 26 March 24, 2009                7.91% turn out, 3.3% turn out at the polls         May 19, 2009*                Scheduled

CD 12 April 8, 2008                25.9% turn out, 6.9% turn out at the polls

June 3, 2008*                No Data Posted.

AD 55 December 11, 2007        11.56% turn out, 5.64% turn out at the polls

February 5, 2008*        43.29% turn out (vote by mail data not available)

CD 37 June 26, 2007                12.35% turn out, 7.12% turn out at the polls
August 21, 2007                9.02% turn out, 4.04% turn out at the polls

AD 39 May 15, 2007                14.27% turn out, 10.24% turn out at the polls
No Runoff

CD 50 April 11, 2006                38.86% turn out, 18.20% turn out at the polls
June 6, 2006*                41.04% turn out, 17.67 % turn out at the polls

SD 35 April 11, 2006                19.14% turn out, 14.14% turn out at the polls
June 6, 2006*                28.18% turn out, 12.13% turn out at the polls

CD 48 October 4, 2005                22.80% turn out, 8.3% turn out at the polls
December 6, 2005        25.70% turn out, 8.,89% turn out at the polls

AD 53 March 8, 2005                17.69% turn out, 11.09% turn out at the polls
No Runoff

CD 05 March 8, 2005                27.72% turn out, 12.34% turn out at the polls
No Runoff

CD 32 April 10, 2001                35.25% turn out, vote by mail results not available
June 5, 2001                37.60% turn out, vote by mail results not available

Posted on Thursday, April 2nd, 2009
Under: Election reform, Elections | 2 Comments »

It ain’t just a river in Egypt.

The “Budget Reform Now” campaign for the six state-budget-related measures on the May 19 special election ballot issued a news release last night quoting Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner, the California State Sheriffs’ Assocaition’s president, on the Public Policy Institute of California’s latest poll:

“It is clear from this poll that Californians are less than satisfied with the status quo when it comes to our economy and our government – Props 1A through 1F are aimed at putting an end to the dysfunctional business as usual in Sacramento. As a county sheriff charged with protecting my community I know first hand the harm our budget rollercoaster does to the resources law enforcement needs to do our jobs. We are confident that as voters learn more about how Props 1A through 1F work together to address California’s budget problems both in the short and long term they will join us and the hundreds of thousands of teachers, seniors, workers, taxpayer advocates and many other Californians in voting yes on Props 1A-1F on May 19.”

It’s nice to be confident. The poll, however, showed not only that a majority of voters aren’t in favor of five of the six measures, but also that the Legislature’s and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s popularity are near or at record lows. And with the election looming seven weeks from this coming Tuesday, there’s not much time left in which to find somebody high-profile and popular who can effectively make a case for these measures.

Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2009
Under: Elections, General, May 2009 special election, state budget | No Comments »

Another Republican for the CD-10 special election

Conservative activist, author and former radio talk show host Melanie Morgan sent an e-mail yesterday saying she’s “squealing like a schoolgirl” to announce that Catherine Moy – executive director of the Move America Forward group of which Morgan is chairwoman; co-author with Morgan of “American Mourning;” and a Fairfield City Council member – will run in the special election to succeed Rep. Ellen Tauscher, assuming Tauscher is confirmed to a high-ranking State Department post.

“The conservative counter-insurgency has begun, and I’m going to do everything in my power to get Cat elected,” Morgan wrote. “Cat has terrific name recognition in the area, a devoted following and she is entirely capable of running this race and winning it – as a rock-solid conservative who has never voted to raise a single tax, and has a solid record on national defense working relentlessly with the largest pro-troops grassroots organization in the country.”

I don’t know Moy, as Fairfield is outside the area we often cover here; I intend to call her tomorrow. Fairfield does fall within the 10th Congressional District that Tauscher now serves, but the district’s slices of Solano, Alameda and Sacramento counties together don’t come close to matching the bulk Contra Costa County provides; it’ll be hard for someone without significant Contra Costa name recognition to come out on top of this race. And as I’ve noted before, the district’s Democrats have an 18-percentage-point voter registration edge over Republicans, so that’s an obstacle, too.

Other Republicans considering a run include 2008 GOP nominee Nicholas Gerber of Moraga; California Republican Party Vice Chairman Tom Del Beccaro and Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf. Democrats mulling a run include state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo; former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg; former BART director and retired PG&E executive Dan Richard of Walnut Creek; and former Lafayette Mayor Scott Talan.

For an excerpt from an article about Moy by Morgan, published Friday on, follow me after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Sunday, March 22nd, 2009
Under: Elections, Ellen Tauscher, General, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

Poll shows record high discontent in California

A new poll released a few minutes ago at the California Constitutional Convention Summit in Sacramento shows that 82 percent of voters believe the state is on the wrong track.

It is the highest level of unhappiness since the Bay Area Council began doing the survey in 2002. (The council is the chief sponsor of the summit.) Pollsters conducted the telephone poll of 800 voters between Feb. 3-5 and it has an error rate of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

Just 11 percent though the state was on the right track. (Who are these people, anyway? Did they take this survey while they were on the beach in Hawaii?)

Reasons for the gloom cited included the budget deficit, gridlock in Sacramento, bureaucracy, poor schools and high taxes.

Disapproval ratings for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature are in the tank, too, at 60 and 71 percent respectively. (For comparison purposes, Obama’s disapproval rating was 17 percent.)

The chief purpose of the poll, though, was to gather public opinion on whether state should convene a Constitutional Convention, a group that would examine some or part of the state Constitution and place reforms before voters.

Most voters have never heard of it. It was 1879 when California last convened such a group.

But after a series of explanations about what a convention could accomplish, about half the respondents said they would support it.

In an interesting side note, the poll found that 67 percent of those asked supported an open primary in theory. The poll was taken before the Legislature placed an open primary measure on the June 2010 ballot.

Posted on Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
Under: California Legislature, Election reform, Elections | No Comments »

DeVore’s attack ad against Boxer is a reach

It’s been less than a month since Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, announced he’ll be vying for the GOP nomination to run against U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., in 2010, and he has wasted no time in putting together his first online attack ad. It seems a little long on bluster and a little short on facts, better geared toward turning opinion against House Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., than against Boxer.

From the Associated Press:

The idea of the visitor center dates back to the 1970s, and in 1991 Congress authorized funds for planning.

But momentum for the project did not come until 1998, when a mentally unstable man burst through the doors of the Capitol, killing two police officers before being subdued in the office of then-Republican Whip Tom DeLay. That impressed on lawmakers the need to move security stations for visitors away from the main building. The groundbreaking ceremony took place in 2000.

And while the funding has been complex, it’s hard to see how DeVore lays it at Boxer’s feet.

Oversight of the Capitol Visitor Center’s planning, engineering, design, and construction is vested in the U.S. Capitol Preservation Commission, a bipartisan panel of lawmakers on which Boxer does not and has never served.

Also, it looks as if the money to cover the center’s cost overruns was earmarked via the annual Legislative Branch Appropriations bills; it looks like $70 million in 2002, $49.8 million in 2004 and $44.2 million in 2006. The Senate approved the conference reports on those bills by unanimous consent in 2002 and 2004, and on a 96-4 vote in 2006. And those spending bills were authored, respectively, by then-Rep. Charles Taylor of North Carolina; Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia; and then-House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis of California, with — all Republicans.

So how is this Barbara Boxer’s problem?

Posted on Friday, December 5th, 2008
Under: Barbara Boxer, Chuck DeVore, Elections, General, U.S. Senate | No Comments »

Self-storage firm boycotted for Prop. 8 support

The latest attempt to boycott a company associated with Proposition 8 targets a self-storage chain with several Bay Area locations.

Californians Against Hate founder Fred Karger said he’s running an online campaign to boycott San Diego-based A-1 Self Storage because of owner Terry Caster’s financial support of the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. A-1 has 30 locations throughout California, including Oakland, Concord, Belmont and four in San Jose.

From Karger’s Huffington Post column yesterday:

Why would someone contribute $693,000 to take away the rights of an entire minority group in California? Terry Caster and his family did just that. Caster, his 8 children and many of their spouses gave a total of $293,000 to help qualify Proposition 8 for the ballot earlier this year. Then when the plea went out for more money from the Yes on 8 campaign in late October, Caster opened up his checkbook and gave an additional $400,000 to take away same-sex marriage in
California. That’s $693,000 to Yes on 8! Terry Caster was the 2nd largest contributor in California to the Yes on 8 campaign.

Caster told the San Diego Union-Tribune in May that marriage equality threatens society. “Without solid marriage, you are going to have a sick society,” he said.

This is the third boycott launched by Karger’s group against Proposition 8 contributors. One of the earlier efforts targeted Doug Manchester, owner of San Diego’s Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel and Grand del Mar Resort as well as another resort in Idaho; that boycott is still ongoing. Another boycott targeted Bakersfield-based Bolthouse Farms after former CEO William Bolthouse Jr. gave $100,000 to the Yes on 8 campaign; Karger dropped that one in October after Bolthouse’s current CEO launched a comprehensive diversity program and agreed to contribute to several LGBT groups.

Californians Against Hate already began a “Call Terry Caster” campaign back in August, asking people to call Caster’s personal office and A-1’s headquarters; that’s now being replaced with the boycott, Karger said. He’s also asking people to leave comments on A-1’s Yelp pages.

Now, I blogged earlier this week about how boycotts are a time-honored, fair-game means of political expression, and one that conservative groups have used in the past against businesses supporting gay rights. I’d neglected then to note that Proposition 8’s proponents just last month sent a letter to almost three dozen businesses which had contributed to the campaign against the initiative, essentially demanding that they give equal money to Yes on 8 or risk conservative blowback.

Many thought that skated pretty close to extortion, so let’s not hear any whining about boycotts, OK?

Posted on Friday, November 21st, 2008
Under: campaign finance, Elections, General, same-sex marriage | 3 Comments »

Watching the dominoes fall

It’s never too early for a politician to think about the next office he or she will hold, and each one’s decision ripples through the political ecosystem. The start of a two-year electoral cycle is a time of great flux, ripe with possibilities as ambitious lifelong politicos decide how to structure the next round of musical chairs.

For example, you’ll recall San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris last week announced she’ll run for state Attorney General in 2010, but only if current Attorney General Jerry Brown runs for governor rather than a second term, a decision that could be influenced by whether U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein jumps into the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

So assuming Feinstein’s decision affects Brown’s, and Brown’s affects Harris, then whose does Harris’ affect? Word on the street is that it’s state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, who might run for mayor of that fine city (rather than a second Senate term) if Harris doesn’t; current Mayor Gavin Newsom will be termed out (and is also exploring a 2010 gubernatorial run).

And then, who’ll run for Yee’s state Senate seat if he doesn’t? Ah, all the pretty ripples…

Posted on Tuesday, November 18th, 2008
Under: California State Senate, Dianne Feinstein, Elections, Leland Yee | No Comments »