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CA15: Bussell’s lead over Corbett has been halved

Republican Hugh Bussell’s narrow lead over state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett in the 15th Congressional District was halved by an election-results update posted Wednesday afternoon by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

Bussell, of Livermore, and Corbett, D-San Leandro, are vying to finish second in the race; whoever prevails will face Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, in November’s general election. Swalwell finished first with 49.1 percent of the vote in last Tuesday’s primary.

Since the previous update on Saturday, Bussell had led Corbett by 721 votes, or about 1 percent of all votes cast. But after the update at 4 p.m. Wednesday, his lead is now 323 votes, or about four-tenths of a percent.

However, this might be as close as Corbett gets.

This now Alameda County’s “unofficial final” result, spokesman Guy Ashley said Wednesday afternoon – all ballots have now been scanned, and the county is now starting its one-percent manual tally to audit its results, as required by law.

The district also includes a slice of Contra Costa County, where registrar Joe Canciamilla won’t update his online results until Friday; as of Monday, his county had about 6,000 provisional ballots and about 4,000 exception ballots – damaged or otherwise questionable – left to count.

But Bussell has led Corbett in Contra Costa County all along, so it’s unlikely that further results there will help her.

Corbett could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Posted on Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

CA15: Corbett still lags as uncounted ballots wane

A Saturday update in Alameda County’s ballot tally didn’t help state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett gain any ground in her bid to finish second in the 15th Congressional District race.

Ellen CorbettAs of now, Corbett, D-Hayward, trails Republican Hugh Bussell by 721 votes, or about 1 percent of all votes cast in the race; before Saturday’s update, she’d been trailing by 713 votes. Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, finished with a more-than-comfortable 49.3 percent of the vote to Bussell’s 25.9 percent and Corbett’s 24.9 percent.

Alameda County, which contains most of the district, still has about 4,500 ballots (1,000 vote-by-mail and about 3,500 provisional) to process county-wide; a spokesman said the registar will next update the results on his website Tuesday afternoon. Contra Costa County has about 10,000 (6,000 provisional and 4,000 exceptions – damaged or otherwise questionable vote-by-mail ballots); registrar Joe Canciamilla said he’ll next update the results on his website Friday before 5 p.m.

But Bussell has basically maintained the same lead as the number of ballots still outstanding has dwindled tremendously since last Wednesday, and so it’s growing ever more unlikely that the relative few ballots remaining will suddenly turn the tide.

Corbett couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

Posted on Monday, June 9th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 9 Comments »

CA15: Bussell now leads Corbett by 710 votes

The long, tough wait goes on in the 15th Congressional District, where Friday’s vote-tally updates still couldn’t provide a clear picture of who’ll finish second behind Rep. Eric Swalwell.

Alameda County’s update had narrowed Republican Hugh Bussell’s lead over state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-Hayward, from 600 votes to 310, but then Contra Costa County’s update broke in Bussell’s favor so that he now leads Corbett by 713 votes – about 1.1 percent of all votes counted so far.

Both counties still have tens of thousands of vote-by-mail and provisional ballots to process, so the candidates must remain on pins and needles – except for Swalwell, of course, who’s sitting pretty no matter who’s in second place.

Posted on Friday, June 6th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 31 Comments »

CA15: Swalwell sits pretty as rivals fight for 2nd

As of now, Rep. Eric Swalwell has taken 49.2 percent of the 15th Congressional District’s vote with Republican Hugh Bussell 25.9 percent and state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett at 24.9 percent.

And that looks a recipe for Swalwell’s second term.

Bussell, the Alameda County GOP vice chairman from Livermore, leads Corbett, D-Hayward, by only about 600 votes, too small a margin to call which one of them will make it into the top two. In Alameda County, which includes the lion’s share of the district, the registrar still must review and/or count about 64,000 vote-by-mail ballots plus about 8,000 provisional ballots countywide. Likewise, Contra Costa County has as many as 50,000 more ballots to count.

The district’s voters are 48 percent Democrats, 22 percent Republicans and 21 percent nonpartisans. Swalwell, D-Dublin, built a Democrat-nonpartisan bloc – with a few Republicans too, probably – to dominate the middle of the field and crowd Corbett to one side; by drawing almost half the vote, he left her no room to maneuver beyond her liberal, labor-backed, Democratic base.

Bussell seemed happy Wednesday, and rightly so – his share of the vote slightly exceeded his party’s registration. But he’s probably too smart and well-versed to believe in his heart that if he gets to November, he can win.

Few who voted for Corbett will vote for him; they’ll vote either for Swalwell or not at all. And Bussell can expect no monetary aid from the state GOP, the National Republican Congressional Committee or other party entities, who’ll be focused on winnable races; he had about $3,200 cash on hand to Swalwell’s $697,000 as of mid-May.

“It’s a very steep hill to climb,” he acknowledged Wednesday. “On the other hand, as people take notice that there’s a Republican in the race, they may take a closer look at what I stand for … and Eric might find some of his support falling away as well.”

If Corbett edges out Bussell, it’s hard to imagine Bussell voters pivoting to support her instead of Swalwell – she argues Swalwell isn’t liberal enough for the district. And if her support from labor unions only just barely gets her into the top two this week, it’s hard to see how they can suddenly push her to victory in the larger-turnout, less ideological electorate we’ll see in November.

Corbett was enduring the primary cliffhanger stoically Wednesday.

“I called Mr. Swalwell this morning and wished him well and congratulated him in coming in first,” she said. “But we’re just going to have to wait for the votes to be counted … We’ll see how that goes.”

Bussell agreed. “I’m guardedly optimistic. At some level, it’s just fantastic we’re even at this point.”

Posted on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 11 Comments »

CA15: Corbett says Swalwell mail is ‘based on lies’

State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett is seeing red over a new campaign mailer from Rep. Eric Swalwell that takes liberties with her legislative attendance record.

The mailer Swalwell, D-Dublin, sent to 15th Congressional District voters doubles down on claims, previously made in a mailer and television ad two weeks ago, that Corbett, D-Hayward, missed 949 votes in the Legislature; pocketed $32,000 in per diem expenses for days she didn’t show up; and accepted her $95,000 annual salary in the Senate.

Click to enlarge:
Corbett attendance back

Corbett attendance front

Swalwell’s campaign provided an opposition research memo it says backs up the claims – but that memo notes Corbett has a 97 percent attendance record in the Senate and a 98 percent attendance rate in the Assembly. Remember, she has served in the Legislature for 14 years.

Also, most of the absences for which she allegedly claimed per diem pay was for “legislative business” on days in which there were no votes taken.

And above all that, “there are serious discrepancies in this opposition research, there are days I did not take per diem and they say that I did,” Corbett said Wednesday. “This is all very tightly controlled – you must be present to receive per diem or you must be on legislative business, and records are kept.”

Even were all those absences accurate, a 97- to 98-percent attendance rate is nothing to sneeze at, she said. “Their own research tells you that I have an excellent attendance record, that I do work hard. … They are making false allegations, there are blatant lies.”

Corbett said Swalwell “will say anything to get elected, and that’s the worst kind of politician; his own research proves that this campaign mailing is based on lies.” She accused him of adhering to the age-old campaign strategy that “if you don’t have your own strong record to talk about, then you say false things about your opponent. I’ve seen it time and time again, it’s very disappointing.”

Posted on Wednesday, May 28th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, California State Senate, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 12 Comments »

CA15: No, Swalwell didn’t vote for Ryan’s budget

State Sen. Ellen Corbett tells a bit of tall tale in one of her latest mailers attacking fellow Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell, whom she’s trying to unseat in the 15th Congressional District.

The mailer’s front offers check-boxes for “Paul Ryan’s Republican Budget” and the “House Progressive Caucus Budget,” and asks, “Which one did Eric Swalwell choose?” Inside, the mailer claims Swalwell chose “Paul Ryan’s Radical Republican Budget.”

Click to enlarge:
Corbett mailer - front

Corbett mailer - inside top

Corbett mailer - inside bottom

Corbett mailer - back

The mailer details the Spring 2013 budget battle in which House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., offered a conservative budget, while liberal Democrats offered their own alternatives.

“On March 20, 2013, the House of Representatives voted on a motion to replace the Ryan budget with the House Progressive ‘Back to Work Budget.’ How did our Representative vote? Eric Swalwell voted with Paul Ryan – and against the Progressive Budget!” Corbett’s mailer reads. “The same day, Swalwell voted against an alternative by the Congressional Black Caucus that would also have protected vital services.”

“Eric Swalwell says he represents Democratic values, but when forced to choose between Paul Ryan and House Progressives, he made the wrong choice,” the mailer concludes.

Except Swalwell did NOT vote for the Ryan budget.

It’s true that Swalwell voted against the House Progressive Caucus Budget, which failed on an 84-327 vote. In the Bay Area, only the most consistently liberal members voted for it: Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; and Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz.

Joining Swalwell in voting against it were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo; and Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; George Miller, D-Martinez; and Mike Thompson, D-Napa, didn’t vote.

And the Congressional Black Caucus’ proposed budget failed on a 105-305 vote, with the Bay Area’s delegation all voting the same way as on the progressive caucus budget except for Pelosi, who didn’t vote.

But when it came time to vote on Ryan’s budget the next day, not a single Democrat voted for it; it passed on a 221-207 vote.

Clearly Corbett identifies with the Bay Area’s most liberal voices, the Lee/Honda/Huffman/Farr camp, while Swalwell sided with what passes for moderates in this region (though the rest of the nation would probably take issue with calling Pelosi, Speier, Lofgren and such “moderate”).

However, to say Swalwell chose “Paul Ryan’s radical Republican budget” is simply not true.

UPDATE @ 11:56 A.M.: I neglected to mention that Swalwell and every other Bay Area Democrat (except Miller, who didn’t vote) supported the mainstream Democratic alternative budget that was put forth during that March 2013 budget fight; it failed on a 165-253 vote.

Posted on Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
Under: Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 54 Comments »

CA17: Honda has more cash on hand than Khanna

Rep. Mike Honda’s re-election campaign now has a slight cash-on-hand edge over Democratic challenger Ro Khanna’s, pointing to a more level playing field this summer and fall should the two of them finish on top in the June 3 primary.

honda.jpgNew reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission for the 17th Congressional District race show Honda’s campaign had $1,038,360 cash on hand with $64,984 in debts as of May 14, while Khanna’s campaign had $1,009,673 cash on hand with $185,123 in debts.

Also, Honda’s campaign has reported raising $36,100 in contributions of $1,000 or more each since May 14, and while Khanna’s has reported $16,000 in such contributions.

Khanna over the course of this election cycle has raised about $3.8 million and spent about $2.7 million, while Honda has raised about $2.1 million and spent about $1.2 million.

“The fact that Khanna’s campaign feels the need to spend $3 million just to make it into the general election means that Ro Khanna is still not getting any traction with voters, while he is quickly running out of resources,” said Doug Greven, Honda’s campaign manager. “Voters overwhelmingly prefer Congressman Honda and want him to continue his record of delivering for the district, and our campaign will continue to save our resources to communicate that message to voters in the general election.”

Honda’s campaign believes that his incumbency and name recognition will tilt things in his favor between the primary and general elections if he and Khanna have roughly the same money to spend on advertising; Honda also is counting on greater turnout in November to bring him more votes.

Ro KhannaBut Khanna campaign spokesman Tyler Law said he’s sure “no one is surprised that we made smart investments with our resources ahead of the primary.”

“It’s what helped us reach out to over 240,000 voters, hold 173 meet-and-greets, and introduce Ro on both TV and mail,” Law said. “Ro has built an unparalleled grassroots organization, received every major newspaper endorsement, and stuck to talking about the issues that really matter. Frankly, the Honda campaign wouldn’t have avoided all debates and wouldn’t be paying to spread false attacks about Ro if they were confident in their standing with the voters.”

Republican Vanila Singh’s pre-primary report could not be found on the FEC’s website Thursday afternoon. Republican Joel VanLandingham has not raised any money for his campaign.

Meanwhile, in the 15th Congressional District, Rep. Eric Swalwell maintains his solid fundraising lead over fellow Democrat Ellen Corbett and Republican Hugh Bussell.

Swalwell’s campaign had $696,587 cash on hand with no debts as of May 14; Corbett’s campaign had $116,033 cash on hand and $18,000 in debts; and Bussell’s campaign had $3,236 cash on hand and $1,740 in debt – a loan he made to his own campaign.

Swalwell over the course of this election cycle has raised about $1.5 million and spent about $830,000; Corbett has raised about $386,000 and spent about $270,000; and Bussell has rasied $4,300 and spent about $2,800.

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, Mike Honda, U.S. House | 11 Comments »

USA Freedom Act vote splits Bay Area reps

The Bay Area’s House delegation was somewhat split – and along surprising lines – as the House voted 303-121 on Thursday to pass a bill supporters say would end the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of American phone records.

The USA Freedom Act, HR 3361, was amended after it arrived on the House floor, and some former supporters believed it had been watered down too much; for example, a requirement for an independent public advocate on the secret intelligence court that oversees the NSA was dropped from the bill.

Voting for the bill were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, and representatives Mike Thompson, D-Napa; Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; and Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton.

From Thompson:

“Our government has a responsibility to protect people’s civil liberties and our national security, and this legislation does both. It ends the government’s bulk collection of metadata, it strengthens oversight and improves accountability of our intelligence community, and it allows our intelligence community to continue their brave work to keep Americans safe.”

Voting against the bill were representatives Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; George Miller, D-Martinez; Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin; Mike Honda, D-San Jose; Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose; Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo; and and Sam Farr, D-Santa Cruz.

From Lofgren:

“Across the country, many people were surprised to learn that the privacy rights they believed were protected under the 4th Amendment did not apply to NSA surveillance of their communications.

“I originally cosponsored the USA FREEDOM Act when it was introduced last yearbecause it was a small step toward reform and transparency. Unfortunately the bill was changed in key ways after committee action and will no longer provide the protections I sought.

“I voted against it today because it falls short of the Fourth Amendment protections Americans deserve.

“There is strong bipartisan concern that this bill makes it legal for the NSA to continue mass surveillance of U.S. citizens. Many civil liberties groups and leading tech companies share these concerns and felt compelled to withdraw their support.

“Without much needed improvements to the USA FREEDOM Act, Congress risks a continuation of mass surveillance in this extension of the Patriot Act.”

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
Under: Anna Eshoo, Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell, George Miller, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Jerry McNerney, Mike Honda, Mike Thompson, Nancy Pelosi, Sam Farr, U.S. House, Zoe Lofgren | No Comments »

CA15: Swalwell mailer & ad attack Corbett

Rep. Eric Swalwell has sent out an attack mailer and begun airing a matching television commercial that take his Democratic rival, state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, to task for allegedly “gaming the system” by taking pay and perks she hasn’t earned.

“Ellen Corbett missed 949 votes, but she always pocketed the paychecks and perks,” the mailer says. “Corbett gamed the system and collected $32,000 in per diem pay for days she never bothered to show up! Despite her failure to vote, she always found time to cash her $95,000 taxpayer funded paycheck. Now Corbett expects a promotion?”

The mailer also claims Corbett, D-San Leandro, accepted taxpayer-funded cars worth $75,000; bought office furniture worth $67,000 while serving as San Leandro’s mayor; and took trips to Maui, India and Spain. The TV ad reiterates all this, and ends with Swalwell, D-Dublin, saying he approves the message “because I know being your representative is a full-time job.”

Click to enlarge:
Swalwell mailer outside

Swalwell mailer inside

“There’s no gaming of the system. People know my work ethic as a legislator, they knew my work ethic as a mayor and councilmember – I’m someone who’s very hard-working and I take my job seriously,” Corbett responded Friday.

“It’s really disappointing that Eric Swalwell is just a typical politician who’s willing to say or do anything to get elected,” she said. “It shows he has no regard for the truth, he’s willing to put his election before his integrity and his honesty – he’s not the breath of fresh air that people think he is.”

Corbett said she has cast about 43,000 votes during her 14 years in the Legislature.

“I have near-perfect attendance, I have missed a handful of days for sickness or family sickness,” she said, adding she raised her son as a single mom. “From time to time there are votes I’ve abstained on, but I was present … Nobody gets paid per diem unless they actually check in for the session, so we are physically present.”

More, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, May 16th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, California State Senate, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 36 Comments »

CA15: Corbett mailer takes aim at Swalwell

State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, has a new mailer in the field for her bid to unseat Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, taking aim at the freshman congressman’s experience and bona fides.

The mailer contrast “Eric Swalwell – not ready for Congress” – with less than one Dublin City Council term prior to his 2012 election to the House, his pro-development votes on that council, the Republican votes he took in his 2012 election, and his lowest ranking among Bay Area liberals from the National Journal – to “Ellen Corbett – 2 decades of leadership on progressive Democratic issues,” from her time as a San Leandro councilwoman and mayor to three terms in the Assembly and two in the state Senate.

Click to enlarge:
Corbett mailer - front

Corbett mailer - inside1

Corbett mailer - inside2

Corbett mailer - rear

Corbett appears to be off the mark in concluding that “of the 10 Democrats representing the Bay Area, Swalwell has, by far, the worst record on progressive issues.” According to the National Journal’s 2013 vote rankings, both Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, and Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, came in less liberal/more conservative than Swalwell.

Also, if some of these attacks on Swalwell sound familiar, it’s because Pete Stark attacked his relative inexperience, his GOP support and his Dublin City Council votes in 2012.

And Corbett’s mailer says “Swalwell is supported by the Washington, D.C. Democratic Party leadership” while Corbett “is endorsed by our local Democratic Clubs, representing grassroots, progressive activists here in our community.” True, though Swalwell won the California Democratic Party’s endorsement as well as those of the Tri-Valley Democratic Club and the Contra Costa Young Democrats – not as many local groups as Corbett lists on her mailer, but grassroots nonetheless.

Meanwhile, Swalwell is holding a fundraiser Wednesday night in San Francisco, headlined by Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, D-Mass., with tickets ranging from $50 to $1,000.

UPDATE @ 11:39 A.M.: Corbett is holding a campaign meet-and-greet this Saturday evening, May 17 at the Hayward home of former Alameda County Supervisor Gail Steele; it’s billed as an “important conversation about the future of our nation.” And Corbett also is flexing the muscle of her labor-union support, inviting backers to join her for phone banking on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons/evenings at the Alameda County Labor Council office in Oakland and on Wednesday and Thursday evenings from the United Food and Commercial Workers hall in Hayward.

UPDATE @ 10:35 P.M.: Corbett takes issue with my analysis.

“McNerney is not a Bay Area representative. His district is based in Stockton and Lodi,” she wrote to me in an email this evening. That’s true, but his 9th Congressional District still includes almost 86,000 registered voters in Contra Costa County, so I usually include him among Bay Area members; clearly she does not.

Corbett also disputed my noting that Swalwell isn’t the most conservative member of the Bay Area delegation. In her email, she provided ratings not only from the National Journal but also from the American Civil Liberties Union, Progressive Punch and Peace Action West which – when averaged together – indicate that he is. “Swalwell is clearly the least progressive member of the Bay Area Congressional caucus,” she wrote.

This may be true, but her mailer cited only the National Journal as a source; by that standard, Swalwell is rated 86th most liberal in the House, Zoe Lofgren is ranked 99th and McNerney is ranked 171st.

Posted on Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Ellen Corbett, Eric Swalwell, U.S. House | 29 Comments »