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Tauscher introduces weapons acquisition reform bill

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo

Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, introduced a bill Tuesday designed to reform the way the nation buys its weapons arsenal. The bill matches a similar bill introduced in the Senate last month.

Here is Tauscher’s press release:

Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), chair of the House Armed Services’ Strategic Forces Subcommittee, and Rep. John Spratt (D-S.C.), chair of the House Budget Committee and a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced the Weapons System Acquisition Reform Act of 2009 on Tuesday, March 31.

The bill would reform our defense acquisition programs to avoid unreasonable cost and schedule estimates, unrealistic performance expectations, and technology flaws, to hold down costs and reduce delays.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced the same bill in the Senate last month.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, April 1st, 2009
Under: Ellen Tauscher | No Comments »

New York congressional race too close to call

The New York Times reports this morning that Tuesday’s special election to replace Kirsten Gillibrand is too close to call.

“A mere 65 votes separated the two candidates late Tuesday in a Congressional contest in upstate New York that received national attention and was widely seen as a referendum on the Obama administration’s economic recovery efforts,” wrote the NYT.

Why do we care in California?

Both parties are closely watching the outcome in this race for signs of voter backlash against Democrats. A Republican win could nudge the GOP to target the upcoming special election to replace Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo. Pending Senate confirmation, Tauscher will take an under secretary position in the U.S. State Department.

Granted, these are very different districts.

The New York district is heavily Republican while Democrats have an 18-point registration lead in Tauscher’s 10th congressional district. The math heavily favors a Democratic win in CD10 while the Republican candidate in New York, under typical circumstances, should have the advantage.

Upstate New York voters there elected Democrat Gillibrand (who left to take the U.S. Senate seat held by Hillary Clinton)  to Congress during the Democrats’ 2006 sweep across the country and it is widely viewed as a bellweather political district.

Posted on Wednesday, April 1st, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, Ellen Tauscher | No Comments »

Second CD10 poll reveals weak name IDs

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

Former BART director Dan Richard

Former BART director Dan Richard

A poll commissioned by potential Democratic congressional candidate and former BART Director Dan Richard shows state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier in statistical dead heat with Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (15 and 13 percent respectively) and Richard trailing at 7 percent.

Nearly 40 percent of those polled had no opinion about who should replace Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a Democratic congresswoman from Alamo who has accepted an under secretary post in the U.S. State Department.

Veteran Democratic pollster Jim Moore conducted the telephone survey of 400 likely voters over the weekend. It has an error rate of plus/minus 5 percent.

Richard says his third-place finish is “about what I expected for a guy who hasn’t been in  public office for four years.” Richard left the BART board in 2004.

But Richard says he was surprised at the relatively low numbers for DeSaulnier, who has held public office in Contra Costa County since 1991, and Buchanan, who just came off a high-profile contested campaign for her Assembly seat.

The poll showed DeSaulnier with a 19 percent favorable approval rating compared with a 9 percent unfavorable while 23 percent did not know. The remaining 49 percent said they had never heard of him. Ouch.

Buchanan received similar numbers: 16 percent favorable approval, 8 percent unfavorable, 29 percent didn’t know and 47 percent had never heard of her.

Richard ordered the poll as part of his study of whether to enter the race. And while he is not ready to say yes or no, the results do not discourage him. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Tuesday, March 31st, 2009
Under: Congressional District 10, Ellen Tauscher | 11 Comments »

Tauscher, Miller endorse DeSaulnier

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier

Ending days of speculation, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, has publicly endorsed state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, as her replacement in Congress.

“(DeSaulnier) is a seasoned, hardworking public servant who would do a great job,” Tauscher said.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, has also thrown his support behind his longtime ally and friend.

“We have worked together at all levels of government and he is a tremendous advocate and representative for our constituents. He is a hard worker, has great integrity and will help move our country forward.”

Pending U.S. Senate confirmation, which could take weeks or months, Tauscher will leave Congress to take a position as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

Some predicted Tauscher would stay neutral on the matter of her successor given the federal vetting process and the likelihood that other Democrats she has supported in the past will run against DeSaulnier in the special election.

But Tauscher has served 13 years in Congress and it would have uncharacteristic for her to remain silent.

Tauscher’s blessing and that of the wildly popular Miller are a huge boost for DeSaulnier’s candidacy and may well dissuade potential opponents or at least dampen their fundraising prospects.

Other Democrats considering the seat include Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, former BART Director Dan Richard, San Francisco City Attorney’s Office investigator Adriel Hampton and one-time Lafayette Mayor Scott Talon.

Republicans are interested, as well, despite the Democrats’ 18-point registration advantage in District 10. The district encompasses portions of central and eastern Contra Costa County, Lamorinda and portions of Alameda, Sacramento and Solano counties.

Among Republicans eying a run are Contra Costa Sheriff Warren Rupf, Fairfield City Councilwoman and Move America Forward Executive Director Catherine Moy, California Republican Party Vice Chairman Tom Del Beccaro and 2008 GOP congressional nominee Nick Gerber.

Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2009
Under: Congress, Congressional District 10, Ellen Tauscher, George Miller, Mark DeSaulnier | No Comments »

Drats! Sullenberger not interested in congressional run

Capt. Sully Sullenberger

Capt. Sully Sullenberger

Capt. Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger, the heroic pilot who saved the lives of every single one of his 155 passengers through a deft landing of a jetliner on the Hudson River in January, says he is honored that folks want him to run for Congress.

But he respectfully says he will continue to decline requests that he “throw his pilot’s hat into the ring,” says family spokesman Alex Clemens.

“He is focusing his time and energy fully on his family, his work for US Airways, and the other obligations that he has taken on since the dramatic events of January 15,” Clemens added.

I wasn’t surprised. When I called his house, Sully’s wife laughed out loud when I explained why the Times’ political writer wanted to talk with him.

This is far from the first time that Sullenberger has fielded this question. Political sources tell me that minutes after the news of Sullenberger’s hometown surfaced, political operatives scoured the voter registration rolls to find out which party he was affiliated and look at his voting record.

Oh, but what a race that would have been!

Sullenberger is a registered Republican and with his starpower, the GOP might have had a chance for a victory in the upcoming special election to replace Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher in District 10. (Tauscher has accepted an undersecretary job to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pending Senate confirmation.)

Democrats hold an 18-point party registration lead in this district, a nearly insurmountable hurdle under ordinary circumstances. Sullenberger has already proven he can beat impossible odds.

Granted, Sullenberger lives in Danville, which is in Rep. Jerry McNerney’s neighboring District 11. But there is no legal requirement that a congressional candidate live in the district and he could always move a mile or two.

On the other hand, Congress might feel like a demotion for Sullenberger.

For one, he would have to give up those six-figure motivational speaker’s fees. (And good for him. He deserves it.)

But more important, Sully is a true hero. If someone polled his numbers, he probably has a 6000 percent approval rating.

As a member of Congress, his popularity would plummet so fast that even a skilled pilot such as Sullenberger might not recover in time for a safe landing.

Posted on Thursday, March 26th, 2009
Under: Congress, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Ellen Tauscher | No Comments »

Washington, D.C., paper lists potential CD10 candidates

The Hill, a prominent Washington, D.C., newspaper that chronicles the Beltway, posted its take on the opening created by Rep. Ellen Tauscher, who has accepted an undersecretary post with the U.S. State Department pending confirmation.

Possible candidates on its list include former San Francisco 49ers tight end Brent Jones, a man who also reportedly considering running for congressional District 11 in 2008.

Soon, it will easier to list the people not interested in the CD10 race.

Posted on Monday, March 23rd, 2009
Under: Congress, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Ellen Tauscher | No Comments »

Progressive Democrat enters CD10 race

Former newspaper political editor Adriel Hampton of Dublin announced his candidacy today as a progressive choice for the seat held by Rep. Ellen Tauscher, who has been nominated for an undersecretary’s post under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

He’s also among the first candidate to announce his campaign via Twitter, according to

Hampton writes on his web page that he is “just a guy” but he’s a “guy with a dream.” If he is serious about running for Congress, he had better become a “guy with money.”

Hampton’s web site says:

Inspired by the community-focused revolution of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, today I am officially launching my campaign for California’s 10th Congressional District.

Many of you know me, but for those who don’t, I want to share a little of my background:

I was born in Modesto in 1978 and am a lifetime NorCal boy. I moved to El Cerrito in 1999, after graduating from Delta College, to attend Cal Berkeley. Around the time of my graduation in 2001, I moved to Walnut Creek, where I lived near downtown. Two years ago, I moved to our current home in Dublin.

My wife and I celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary next month, and have two children, 4 and 2. I’ve been a regular BART rider since moving to the Bay Area, and jump on each day to make it to my job as a municipal investigator for the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office. I remember using BART to get from El Cerrito to Cal, and from Cal to my job as news editor of the Hayward Daily Review at the ANG News Center, sometimes barely catching the midnight line back home.

I am just a guy, but I am a guy with a dream. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, March 23rd, 2009
Under: Congress, congressional district 11, Ellen Tauscher | 7 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 »

Warren Rupf for Congress?

Lots of names continue to circulate in the speculation over who’ll run to succeed Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, if she’s confirmed to a high-ranking State Department post. In chatting with a few people today, someone mentioned the name of Contra Costa County Sheriff Warren Rupf as a possible Republican contender, so I gave him a call.

“I have not closed out the possibility,” he told me about an hour ago, adding that despite some misgivings, he has agreed to meet with several of the people who’ve urged him to run.

“I don’t know that I’d be a good partisan politician,” he said, noting that as Sheriff since 1992 and with the department for more than 40 years, he has had to operate in a bipartisan way. (Now, isn’t that exactly what a moderate Republican candidate, looking to overcome the CD-10’s 18-percentage-point Democratic voter registration advantage, would say?)

He’ll not rush into anything, he said. “It’s far and away too important a position, and certainly the issues are so important, that it’s not something that should be entered into for emotional or ego-driven motives.”

Rupf lives in Martinez, which is in Rep. George Miller’s 7th Congressional District. But as I’ve reported, that’s no legal obstacle and might be significantly less of a political problem when the jurisdiction someone has been serving for a long time overlaps significantly with the Congressional district at issue.

Other Republicans mulling a run to succeed Tauscher include 2008 nominee Nicholas Gerber of Moraga and California Republican Party Vice Chairman Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette. I also spoke today with 2006 GOP nominee Darcy Linn; she said she’s not considering a special-election run, and she believes Del Beccaro is the strongest GOP candidate.

On the Democratic side, state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, already has the blessing of Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, who decided to stay with his campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2010. Other possibilities include Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo; former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg; Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Susan Bonilla; former BART director and former PG&E executive Dan Richard of Walnut Creek; and former Lafayette Mayor Scott Talan. Watch for any or all to get involved in the domino effect as some run for CD-10, and some run for the seat the new Congressmember vacates, and so on and so on.

I’ll be on KQED-TV/Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California” to talk about CD-10 at 7:30 p.m. tonight.

Posted on Friday, March 20th, 2009
Under: Ellen Tauscher, General, U.S. House | No Comments »

Tauscher’s departure fuels major political buzz

Rep. Ellen Tauscher

Rep. Ellen Tauscher

I may be at home on my couch recovering from bunion (foot) surgery but the calls are coming in about Rep. Ellen Tauscher’s decision to accept an under secretary job working for her long-time pal and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Tauscher must still win U.S. Senate confirmation, which could take weeks or months, but there is nothing to suggest that she will not secure the post. (Click here and here for my colleagues’ stories about the job.) Tauscher has serious national security creds and very well-placed friends in the field in which she would be entering, chiefly nuclear non-proliferation negotiations.

The political landscape is abuzz in Contra Costa County over who will run for the rare opening in an elected office with no term limits.

The names that most immediately come to mind are state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier of Concord or Assemblyman Tom Torlakson of Antioch, veteran Democrats and longtime friends. Both men have expressed interest in the seat but they probably won’t run against each other. Torlakson is serving his final year in the state Legislature, per term limits, and he has been running for state superintendent of schools. (Incumbent Jack O’Connell terms out in 2010.)

Other names include newly elected Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, a former San Ramon School Board trustee who had Tauscher’s endorsement. Contra Costa Supervisor Susan Bonilla’s name come up in conversations with local politicos, although she would likely run for the open senate seat should DeSaulnier take the plunge. Former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, a moderate from Pittsburg, may also be thinking about it. One-time Lafayette Mayor Scott Talon has said he is interested but he’s been out of the political eye for years.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, March 18th, 2009
Under: Congress, Contra Costa County, Contra Costa politics, Ellen Tauscher | No Comments »