10

California electoral vote measure moves forward

Secretary of State Debra Bowen today cleared conservative activist Ted Costa to start collecting petition signatures for a proposed ballot measure that, if approved by voters, would split California’s presidential Electoral College votes starting next year.

California right now is a winner-take-all state: Whichever candidate wins the Golden State’s popular vote gets all 55 of its Electoral College votes. California’s votes went to the Republican presidential nominees from 1968 through 1988, and to the Democratic nominees since then.

But Costa – perhaps best known for helping to launch the recall effort that eventually replaced Gov. Gray Davis with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – wants California to follow Maine and Nebraska’s lead in awarding most of the state’s Electoral College votes according to the popular vote in each Congressional District, so that some can go to one candidate and some to another. Both those states adopted this method in 2008. Maine has used this method since 1972, Nebraska since 1992.

The Attorney General’s official title and summary for the measure is as follows:

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORS. POLITICAL PARTY NOMINATION AND ELECTION BY CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. INITIATIVE STATUTE. Requires California to join two other states in selecting electors for president by the plurality vote in each congressional district. Two at-large electors to be selected based on plurality of statewide vote for president. Provides for political party nomination of electors pledged to vote for that party’s candidate. Mandates that electors vote for candidate for whom they are pledged. Independent electors to be chosen by independent presidential candidates and also elected by congressional district. Eliminates $10 compensation and 5 cents per mile reimbursement of electors. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Reduced state expenses of less than $10,000 every four years. (10-0024.)

Costa must collect signatures of 504,760 registered voters – the number equal to five percent of the total votes cast for governor in the 2010 gubernatorial election – by July 5 in order to qualify it for 2012’s primary ballot.

A similar proposed measure backed by a Republican-funded group failed to get enough petition signatures to appear on the June 2008 ballot.

2

Bowen: Contractor messed up voter guide mailing

A contractor’s error was responsible for some Bay Area households never receiving their official state voters’ guides before the June 8 primary, Secretary of State Debra Bowen reports.

In a letter sent yesterday to Assemblyman Jerry Hill, who’d contacted Bowen’s office after taking complaints from San Mateo County residents, Bowen said managers at Admail West, the Sacramento firm contracted to mail the guides, admitted “their company is responsible for duplicate or triplicate mailings of state voter guides to voter households in some counties, while at the same time failing to mail a single state voter guide to other households.”

“No one at Admail West has ever been able to fully explain the extent of the mailing problem, or why the company did not have better quality-assurance procedures in place for such an important statewide project,” Bowen wrote. “Moreover, Admail West managers reported that the one employee who handled the mailing data and caused the San Mateo County mailing errors passed away in June, and many key details are not known by anyone else at the company.”

Regardless of who screwed up at Admail West, she wrote, “there is no excuse for the sloppy tracking and lack of quality control by any vendor when the Secretary of State’s office provides extremely clear mailing specifications and voter address data.”

Checking around online, I see that Admail West’s president is Kathleen Pescetti. Her husband is Anthony Pescetti, the Republican former Assemblyman from Gold River; their son, also named Anthony, is Admail West’s business development manager.

Hill, D-San Mateo, issued a news release today noting there are still unanswered questions that must be resolved to ensure this doesn’t happen again: “I will be working with the Secretary of State to identify corrective actions that may include legislation or a state audit.”

Hill on June 16 introduced AB 814, which would require that for a statewide election, officials include a notification with the sample ballot informing voters they can obtain a voter information guide on the Secretary of State’s website. The notice also would include the telephone number, designated by the county elections official, at which a voter could request that a ballot pamphlet be mailed to him or her; ballot pamphlets also would be made available at polling places. The bill passed the state Senate Appropriations Committee on a unanimous vote Monday, and now awaits a Senate floor vote.

Hill also this year authored AB 1717, authorizing county and city elections officials to create procedures letting a voter opt out of receiving their sample ballot, voter pamphlet and polling-place notice by mail and instead get them electronically by e-mail or on the county’s or city’s Web site. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed that bill into law last month.

1

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.

6

Another candidate declares in CD-10

With 11 candidates already declared or most likely in the field and a few more rumored to be mulling it over, the race to succeed Rep. Ellen Tauscher in the 10th Congressional District became an even dozen Monday with an entry from the “who’s that?” department.

Self-described “soccer mom” Tiffany Attwood of Danville, a Democrat and Bay Area native, says she’s the only minority woman (Latina/Filipina) in the race.

“Why would anyone elect the same officials that put California in a $21 billion deficit in a federal seat?” she said. “I don’t think constituents of the 10th District want to put an experienced deficit-spending, tax-increasing politician in Congress.”

Her news release says that with her father and two brothers as former or current Marines, she’s “acutely aware of the issues surrounding veterans and senior citizens, especially with health care.” She also touts her experience as a wife, a mother, a mortgage officer with Emery Financial and a Danville Planning Commissioner, noting she faces the everyday challenges of holding down two jobs and balancing a family life to make ends meet.

From her campaign’s Web site:

As health care is a personal issue with Tiffany and her family, she has taken on a second job with United Parcel Service (UPS) to secure full health benefits, which her union manages. Over the years with UPS, Tiffany has found that not only do her coworkers hold down second jobs too, but are there also to cover family health benefits. Outside of UPS, health care is a cost problem within the 10th District and needs to be addressed.

She said her priorities will focus on responsible home ownership, open dialogue on solutions for the health care industry, and federal help for small business owners in order to boost the district’s employment.

“Defaults in home ownership are up, on average by 14 percent in the district. Families are now faced with possible layoffs, bad credit and nowhere to turn to for help. I want to get the word out that Obama’s stimulus for housing is working, although a little bureaucratic, we’ve been able to give families their lives back,” she said. “We’re all going through tough times right now – my family is too. But there is hope! With American ingenuity and a positive attitude we can ALL make it through this.”

This race ought to be getting off the ground in earnest soon, as Tauscher’s confirmation hearing went off without a hitch last week and the vote on her appointment to a high-ranking State Department should be soon to follow. Other declared candidates or those likely to run include Democrats Tony Bothwell, Joan Buchanan, John Garamendi, Adriel Hampton, Mark DeSaulnier and Anthony Woods; Republicans Nick Gerber, David Harmer and Catherine Moy; Green Jeremy Cloward; and independent Gino VanGundy.

UPDATE @ 3:24 P.M.: I spoke with the new candidate about an hour ago; read about it here.

7

David Harmer in, Tom Del Beccaro out in CD-10

Lisa had reported the possibility in April, but now it’s official: Republican attorney David Harmer – son of former California lieutenant governor and Southern California state legislator John Harmer – says he’ll be a candidate in the 10th Congressional District should Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, be confirmed to the State Department post to which she is nominated.

“Now more than ever, we need Congress to practice prudent fiscal management,” he said in his news release. “Instead, Congress is mortgaging our children’s future with trillions of dollars in new debt. It’s the opposite of the American dream. We’re living beyond our means and leaving the bill for our kids.”

Harmer, of San Ramon, said he believes the district’s voters share his commitment to fiscal responsibility. “The 2008 elections offered a great opportunity for change, but a doubling of the national debt within four years and massive corporate bailouts is not the change we had in mind I am running for Congress to work toward common-sense solutions.”

And although this will be an uphill battle for him – the district has an 18-percentage-point Democratic registration edge – Harmer said he already has raised more than $150,000 for this race. Spokesman Michael Caporusso said if this early support is any indication, “we’re well on our way to raising over $1 million for this election.”

California Republican Party Vice Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette told me this morning he won’t be a candidate – “It’s just not the right time for me,” he said – and we’re hearing that Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf probably won’t seek the seat either (although I couldn’t immediately reach him this morning to confirm).

Other potential GOP candidates include Fairfield City Councilwoman Catherine Moy, who has set up an exploratory committee Web site; 2008 10th District nominee Nicholas Gerber of Moraga; and CBS News Radio National Business Correspondent and former KTVU Channel 2 Business Editor Brian Banmiller.

6

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.